A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

The $79 Billion Iraqi Surplus, Re-reconsidered

During the 2008 campaign, we repeatedly called out then-candidate Barack Obama for complaining that the U.S. was spending billions in Iraq while the Iraqi government sat on a projected $79 billion surplus. We said that Obama’s projection didn’t account for updates to the Iraqi budget. But things were slightly more complicated than we originally thought: On paper, Iraq’s budget showed a surplus of up to $57 billion, but the U.S. Government Accountability Office pointed out that the Iraqi government had shown little ability to spend all that it had budgeted.

Harry Reid’s Outlaw Ancestor?

Q: Was Harry Reid’s ancestor a horse thief?
A: That’s a hoax. Sen. Reid is only the most recent political figure to be accused of fabricated outlaw ancestry.

Mining the Minnesota Recount

Republican incumbent Norm Coleman headed into the Minnesota U.S. Senate recount leading Democratic challenger Al Franken by more than 200 votes. But on Jan. 5, the state Canvassing Board certified recount results showing Franken received 225 more votes than Coleman in the general election, out of nearly 2.9 million votes …

American Legion’s Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball

Q: Did Obama snub Medal of Honor recipients at the Inaugural Balls?
A: Obama is the first president since Eisenhower to miss the American Legion’s Salute to Heroes ball. A Legion spokesman says it "does not feel offended or ‘snubbed,’" and Medal of Honor recipients were invited to the Commander in Chief’s ball, which Obama did attend.

‘Clean Coal’ Confrontation

On the campaign trail, President Obama embraced the coal industry’s vision of “clean coal” technology. But even before he took office, a coalition of environmental groups (including Al Gore’s) launched ads ridiculing the idea as a myth: “In reality, there’s no such thing as clean coal.” We’re sure to hear …

Comparing Inauguration Costs

Q: Did Barack Obama’s inauguration really cost 4 times as much as George Bush’s 2005 inauguration?
A: Claims of a huge disparity are untrue. Actually, an apples-to-apples comparison shows that the two inaugurations likely cost about the same.

Obama’s Inaugural Bobble

President Barack Obama made one factual error in his first speech in office when he said, immediately after being sworn in:

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.

It is true that Obama is counted as the 44th president, but he’s only the 43rd person to take the oath. Grover Cleveland is counted as both the 22nd and the 24th president.
Cleveland took the oath the first time in 1885, served four years and then was defeated by Benjamin Harrison in 1888.

Ammunition Accountability Act

Q:Are states going to require serial numbers on bullets and require disposal of existing ammunition?
A:Such a proposal is being pushed by a company that holds a patent on bullet-coding technology. But none of the 31 bills introduced last year ever made it out of committee.

Blair House

Q: Why did the Obamas stay at a hotel instead of Blair House?
A: The family wanted the daughters to start school in early January, much earlier in the month than recent presidents have taken up residence there. The Bush administration said the guest house was unavailable, and a former Australian prime minister stayed there Jan. 12.

Sliming Pelosi

Pelosi has taken her place with Obama and Palin as a favorite target of false claims in chain e-mails, judging by the examples our readers send us. Here’s the truth about some of the bunk being thrown at her by anonymous Internet rumormongers. Her husband does not own a …