In recent months, conservatives have been caught red-faced spreading smears about Barack Obama via emails and blogs and Web sites, their sources eventually unmasked as tainted or non-existent people. Now here's another example, but this one is a little different--the source is a Washington Post reporter named Dale Lindsborg.

Of course, there is no Dale Lindsborg at the Post (or seemingly anywhere) but when did that get in the way of a good smear?

Even a giveaway line in his alleged account where Obama endorses an old Coke commercial song as our new national anthem did not deter some from believing it and making it "viral."

For at least two weeks the "Lindsborg" account of an Obama appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sept. 7 has been rocketing around the world and back again via email and the Internet, sometimes showing up at reputable sites -- such as the Post itself -- in their Comments sections. Someone even brought it up on Wednesday in an online chat with Washington Post reporter Ann Kornblut at the paper's site. She said she knew of no Lindsborg but would check on it (hey, put Bob Woodward on the case).

The charge is the old familiar tale of Obama not believing in honoring the flag, and hating America, with the new twist that he said this on "Meet the Press" a month ago (somehow the world missed this) and that it has been confirmed by the aforementioned Dale Lindsborg.

It was debunked this week on the Snopes.com site, which traced it back to a satiric entry at an obscure site that was taken seriously and spread widely.

The giveaway should have been Obama saying he wanted to junk our "bellicose" national anthem, the "Star-Spangled Banner," and replace it with the more peaceful "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" -- adding that if that was our anthem "then I might salute it."

He supposedly then added, "It's my intention, if elected, to disarm America to the level of acceptance to our Middle East Brethren." And: "My wife disrespects the Flag for many personal reasons. Together she and I have attended several flag burning ceremonies in the past, many years ago."

Reporter "Lindsborg" then winds up his account: "Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you heard it right. This could possibly be our next President. I, for one, am speechless."

Taylor Batten, editorial page editor at the Charlotte Observer, commented yesterday at one of his paper's blogs, "Come on, people. You're e-mailing this to all your friends, in a panic, in disbelief that this man is leading in the polls.

"Here's an idea: think for yourself! Spend, oh, 10 seconds on Google and see if there really is a"Dale Lindsborg at the Washington Post. Spend 30 seconds seeing if Obama was even ON the Sept. 7 'Meet the Press.' Are you so predisposed to one candidate or the other that you can't think critically?"

UPDATE The Arizona Republic cover this:

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/arizonaliving/articles/2008/10/18/20081018obamarumor1018.html

Also, an interesting email from a reader below.
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By chance I got a Google alert yesterday about this item, referring to "Dale Lindsborg." We got it because we live in Lindsborg, Kansas.

The interesting thing is the name, since (to my knowledge) this is the one and only "Lindsborg" in the world. It is a Swedish-American community and the name was invented for it by the pioneers. Furthermore there are no family names of "Lindsborg."

So, one suspicion might be that the name "Dale Lindsborg" had to come from somebody who knows of our town (or maybe even lives here? Perish the thought!) It's a town of only 3,000 so I doubt our fame has
spread very far or for somebody to just invented that name by chance.

Thanks for the fine piece. That was a stunning bit of smear-mongering and deserves to be exposed in the light of day.

Jim Richardson
Lindsborg, Kansas