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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Will Ferrell, Pygmy Horses and Health Insurance

MoveOn.org Political Action’s latest video is a satirical send-up of a public service announcement titled "Protect Insurance Companies." It features a collection of actors – including "Saturday Night Live" alum (and Dodge Stratus driver) Will Ferrell, "Mad Men"’s Jon Hamm and "The State"’s Thomas Lennon – who defend, among other things, the right of insurance CEOs to pursue an American dream that includes a "mini-zoo in your backyard for exotic animals like a white tiger and pygmy horses."

Czar Search

Q: Does Obama have an unprecedented number of "czars"?
A: "Czar" is media lingo, not an official title. But our research shows that George Bush’s administration had more "czars" than the Obama administration.

September 25, 2009

Pittsburgh, Pa., was named by Gen. John Forbes in honor of British statesman Sir William Pitt in 1758. In 1816, it was chartered as a city. 
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Zero Pay Raise for Congress, Too

The current Congress is being falsely blamed for the fact that Social Security recipients are not due to get a cost-of-living increase in January. As we noted in an Ask FactCheck item posted Sept. 23, the real reason for the freeze is volatile oil prices and the formula that Congress adopted, and President Richard Nixon signed and claimed credit for, in 1972.
That hasn’t stopped some from claiming that the current Congress is not only to blame,

McDonnell Ad Cites Praise, Leaves Out Criticism

More on that governor’s race in Virginia: Bob McDonnell, the GOP candidate and the former state attorney general, is running an ad that’s meant to bathe his "comprehensive transportation plan" in a warm glow. Ironically, though, the ad’s only reference for its claims is an editorial from the Washington Post in July that devotes far more space to criticizing McDonnell’s plan than to praising it.

Part of the ad – the portion that cites the Post‘s critique of state Sen.

Dying from Lack of Insurance

A new study from researchers with the Harvard Medical School found that 45,000 deaths a year can be attributed to the lack of health insurance. Our readers ask: Really? And, they want to know, isn’t this finding actually from the single-payer advocacy group Physicians for a National Health Program?
We’ll answer the latter first: The study was conducted by six researchers who were all with the Department of Medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

September 24, 2009

The 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, created term limits for the president. The longest a person can serve is 10 years, by serving for two years to fill the vacancy of the previous president, and then being elected president twice.

Source: Annenberg Classroom

Social Security COLA

Q: Will Social Security recipients be denied a cost of living increase next year? Are Democrats to blame?
A: There won’t be a COLA increase paid this January, and probably not in January 2011, either. But the cause is volatile oil prices, not anything done by the current Congress.

September 23, 2009

Benjamin Franklin, at age 81, was the oldest person to sign the Constitution. Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey, at 26, was the youngest.
Source: Annenberg Classroom

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Sept. 15-Sept. 21

This week, readers sent us comments on emergency health care for undocumented immigrants, proper citations, persistent falsehoods about ACORN and Muslim holidays.
In the FactCheck Mailbag we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.