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The American Debate | Huckabee tobacco tie puffs out

And Giuliani's picture of his transparency as mayor appears to be in contrast with the facts.

From time to time, we run excerpts from Dick Polman's blog, "Dick Polman's American Debate."

Just when it appears [Mike] Huckabee might be the man of conviction that grassroots Republicans are yearning for, we get the news that he was once a wholly owned subsidiary of the tobacco industry.

It turns out that, while Huckabee was serving as lieutenant governor of Arkansas back in 1994, R.J. Reynolds helped finance a nonprofit organization that paid Huckabee to crisscross the country and attack Hillary Clinton's health-care plan. The tobacco giant's role was kept secret for years - Huckabee neglected to report this income on his '94 state financial disclosure form - but now it's all coming out. A former Huckabee political adviser - who doubled as a consultant to R.J. Reynolds - is talking openly about how the tobacco giant put money in Huckabee's pocket. . . . The company has now confirmed it.

But here's the good part: Huckabee claimed last Friday that he didn't know he was taking big-tobacco money while he was on the public payroll. His former adviser, J.J. Vigneault . . . recalls that Huckabee met with R.J. Reynolds officials in his Little Rock apartment.

Vigneault is quoted as saying: "There's no way he could not have known about the money from R.J. Reynolds. If he's saying he didn't know about the Reynolds money, he's been less than truthful."

Whopper of the week

And speaking of untruths, the whopper of the week (last week, anyway) was uttered by Rudy Giuliani during the final Republican debate of 2007. Giuliani (who is viewed favorably by 41 percent of Republicans) promised that, if elected, he would run an open administration, just as he had as mayor: "I would make sure that government was transparent. My government in New York City was so transparent that they knew every single thing I did almost every time I did it. . . . "

Those statements contradict factual reality. In truth, Rudy was the opposite of transparent. When independent budget watchdogs . . . tried to audit the fiscal practices of his administration, Rudy's stonewalling on data was so endemic that the City Council had to set aside money for the specific purpose of suing him. Later, when the state comptroller tried to do routine audits of city performance, Rudy stonewalled him, too - which prompted the comptroller to issue multiple subpoenas for information, all of which Rudy simply ignored. The comptroller finally sued . . . the case dragged on for two years, with Rudy stonewalling all the way. In the end, Rudy lost when the state's highest court ruled against him.

. . . The Hillary Clinton campaign has released a new Iowa TV ad, featuring the candidate's mother.

Dorothy Rodham says: "What I would like people to know about Hillary is what a good person she is. She never was envious of anybody - she was helpful. And she's continued that with her adult life with helping other women. She has empathy for other people's unfortunate circumstances. I've always admired that because it isn't always true of people. I think she ought to be elected even if she weren't my daughter."

Translation: Hillary is bleeding. Support from women has dropped. . . . Mom to the rescue.