Another regular feature here at Phawker will be truth squad-ing the wingnut memes and distortions of token DN red-stater/ Big Talker gasbag Michael Smerconish. Let us say up front that we have no reason to believe Smerconish is a bad person, per se. Nakedly ambitious, remarkably self-absorbed, a little clueless in the way all patricians are about what really happens beyond their manicured hedgerow? Sure. He’s also polite and well-spoken, especially when sending out invites to one of his this-will-get-me-on-O’Reilly-again verbal hammer parties where he smashes some easy-target liberal glass house with barely contained glee. Usually it’s some diluted-to-suit-local-taste variation on the latest talking points memo sent from the RNC by flying monkey and delivered to the reader/listener still hot and steaming, straight from Karl Rove’s ass and out Smerconish’s lips. We’ve grown inured to this kind of craven I’ll-say-whatever-gets-me-on-TV desperation from Machiavellian media-climbers like him. But what really sticks in our craw is that we can’t quite decide if he’s a fool in rose-colored Republican shades or a deeply, deeply cynical man. Frankly, he seems smart enough to know better. In fact, we’re pretty sure he does. Instead, he only comes across as someone smart enough to know what will garner little extra bandwidth in a crowded TV punditocracy, refresh his brand and up his standing in the rolodexes of cable news show bookers — filed under The Likable Bush Apologist. We believe there will come a day of reckoning for guys like him, and that day is coming soon. Smerconish speaks often of his happy brood, and he has every reason to be a proud papa. But how, we wonder, will he ever explain to his sons that he was an accomplice-via-opinion to the killing of as many as 600,000 people in Iraq by dint of his shameless parroting of the neocon talking points that got us there in the first place — just so he could get his shiny head on Fox. We realize that death toll number is “disputed” — always disputed, though never actually disproven, so that the cable talking heads are forced to put a question mark after this appalling figure for fear of being called *shudder* LIBERAL. Typically, Smerconish and his fellow shouters in the right-wing echo chamber dismiss that 600,000 dead figure with a ‘Gee willikers folks, look at what the wacky liberals dragged in now! Aren’t they cute?’ — sorta the same way they said ‘Pay no attention that National Intelligence Estimate, the one that says we are making terrorists, not eliminating them, because, hey, those NIEs are often riddled with inaccuracies.” Yeah, no shit. Hello Baghdad! Even more galling was the White House’s denial of the study, which was published in the esteemed British medical journal The Lancet and conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Johns Hopkins team used a scientific extrapolation method of tallying the dead — in this case sending Iraqi doctors into sample villages across Iraq to collect all the death certificates — which is the same method used for earthquakes and tsunamis and usually recognized as legitimate and accurate by the United States. The White House is disputing the the 600,000 death toll figure because, get this, it’s SO much higher than the figure the Pentagon put out. Asking the Pentagon for a death toll is like asking the fat kid how many cookies he ate while mommy was away. And that’s the saddest part of the Smerconish saga, and how he is actually hurting America: because of guys like him, nobody even expects the truth any more.