In one of his "the senator can't get his facts straight" scoldings last night, Dick Cheney just couldn't get his own facts straight. Cheney plugged Brooks Jackson's truth-squadding FactCheck Web site as an outfit that, according to Cheney, had debunked claims John Edwards made about Cheney's tenure at Hallburton. Edwards said: "Here's why we didn't think Halliburton should have a no bid contract. While he was C.E.O. of Halliburton, they paid millions of dollars in fines for providing false information on on their company, just like Enron and Ken Lay. They did business with Libya and Iran, two sworn enemies of the United States. They're now under investigation for having bribed foreign officials during that period of time. Not only that, they've gotten a $7 billion no-bid contract in Iraq and, instead of part of their money being withheld, which is the way it's normally done, because they're under investigation, they've continued to get their money."
Cheney promptly called Edwards a liar and used the FactCheck web site as corroborating evidence. "Well, the reason they keep mentioning Halliburton is because they're trying to throw up a smoke screen," Cheney said. "They know the charges are false. They know that if you go, for example, to factcheck.com, an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton. It's an effort that they've made repeatedly to try to confuse the voters and to raise questions, but there's no substance to the charges."
There were two glaring problems with the vice president's answer, however. First, as FactCheck lays out today, the document Cheney was referring to was on a different subject entirely -- it examined charges that Cheney profited personally from Halliburton's Iraq contracts while in office. In that document, FactCheck said a Kerry-Edwards campaign ad that claimed Cheney profited from these contracts as VP was misleading. But on the point Edwards made in the debate -- the point Cheney dodged by changing the subject -- the senator was "mostly right," FactCheck says.
But Cheney didn't even get the Web site address right, he directed viewers to "FactCheck.com," when the Brooks Jackson Web site is actually "FactCheck.org." If you visit FactCheck.com, as Cheney recommends, you'll get automatically redirected to the Web site of liberal benefactor George Soros, which bears this message: "Why we must not re-elect President Bush."
[Update from Salon's Michelle Goldberg: Its still not clear who owns FactCheck.com. The domain is registered to what looks like a reseller in the Cayman Islands, and whoever controls it hasnt had any contact with Soros or DonorDigital, the company that created and maintains his site. "GeorgeSoros.com had nothing to do with the redirect to our site -- but we thank whomever did it," says Donor Digital president Nick Allen.]