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Yesterday when I was researching a post on what Missouri’s Washington D.C. delegation had to say about the latest overblown Obamacare roll-out “crisis,” I came across this claim in an official news release issued by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-3):

Consider this: the Administration spent a total of $500 million on the Obamacare website and its back end systems. To put this into perspective, Facebook operated for six years before surpassing the $500 million mark.

Unfortunately for Rep. Luetkemeyer’s credibility, his statement is totally untrue and, hence, the comparison between the costs of Obamacare.com and Facebook is so much gibberish.

The $500 million number is probably a riff on an erroneous report in Digital Trends that was subsequently corrected. Republicans, eager to slander Obamacare in any way possible, seized on the initial report, omitting in the process to note that it referred to a decade of work by the company in question and covered many projects other than Obamacare.com. However, Republicans eager to do their special brand of mischief went to town with the false number. As Media Matters reported:

The life of the $600 million figure appears to be the latest example of how misinformation is fermented within the right-wing media and then adopted as quasi-policy by the Republican Party. After all, Rep. Camp is holding a hearing specifically to determine why the government’s $600 million health care website doesn’t work, even though the site didn’t cost $600 million.

Secretary Sebilius, in answer to questions during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last Wednesday, set the total costs at $174 million, which coincides with an earlier estimate based on analysis of government documents by the Washington Post Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, that put total direct costs somewhere in the vicinity of $170 million. Obviously, the government won’t get Obamacare.com set up and running for nothing, but the actual cost so far is nowhere near the $500 million figure Rep. Luetkemeyer and his ilk are presenting as the current cost of Obamacare.com in order, presumably, to gin up outrage over the roll-out of the Website.

Which brings me to the real issue here. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer has sufficient staff and resources to come up with numbers similar to those of the WaPo‘s Kessler if he had cared about accuracy rather than trying to make a partisan point. Actually, since the Luetkemeyer release I referenced above was issued on Oct. 25, he or his staff could have easily found lower estimates if they had performed a simple a Web search. No one is forcing him to promulgate erroneous talking points. The conclusion we are left with is either that Luetkemeyer is so intellectually lazy that he doesn’t care whether or not he gives his constituents the right numbers, or he deliberately used an incorrect number to bolster an anti-Obamacare stance that is so weak that it won’t withstand the truth.

And, given that this is not Rep. Luetkemeyer’s first blatantly overt ofense against the truth, I’d end to go with the latter explanation. In his 2011 skirmish against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he cited a totally spurious report that purported to represent the work of 700 scientists whom Luetkemeyer claimed challenged the work of the IPCC on climate change.

Taken individually, these may not be life-and-death issues – although a good case could be made that health care and climate change, in general, are just that. But whatever the case, questions that give rise to worries about either the competence or the honesty of our elected representatives are important. We all know that we’re worse off as a nation because of the misinformation that pervades Fox Nation. What may yet doom us is when trusted officials like Luetkemeyer are willing to abuse their integrity in the name of partisan advantage to the extent that they will play a role in helping to maintain that miasma.