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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRUTH AND ACCURACY

The Founding Fathers who wrote and approved our Constitution did not like the idea of political parties. If they could see the low road upon which so many campaigns travel today, they would feel their disdain was well-placed.

Campaign ads take legislative votes out of context and innocent comments are edited to distort meaning. It's not exactly lying, but it's a close relation.

Voters would be well-advised to be skeptical of the information that comes hurtling out of campaign attack ads like so many poison darts.

One ad hitting the airwaves for U.S. Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato is worth noting in that regard. In the ad, D'Amato claims that his opponent, Rep. Charles E. Schumer of Brooklyn, cares nothing about the concerns of upstate. It quotes Schumer as saying, "To me, the West begins across the Hudson River." It's accurate. He said it. It's just not true.

Schumer made the remarks as a joke at his own expense. He had mistakenly identified an Illinois senator as being from Idaho. When the mistake was pointed out, Schumer made his west-of-the-Hudson remark in jest. Next thing you know, it's part of an attack ad.

Not that Schumer couldn't be legitimately held accountable by some upstate voters for certain of his votes. For example, he voted to raise gasoline taxes and supported measures that would trim payments to dairy farmers in order to keep down the price of milk. Of course, as a Brooklyn congressman, Schumer would be likely to vote for measures that would tend to benefit his constituents. And, one could argue, the zeal he used to represent his constituents as a Brooklyn congressman could be expected to transfer over to his conduct as a senator representing the entire state.

But that's not the salient point here. Candidates will always exaggerate their own accomplishments and distort the stands of their opponents. But there's a line that ought not to be crossed without some voter indignation. The D'Amato ad crosses that line.

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