McCain grilled on ‘The View’ over ads, earmarks, lockstep

After a week basking in the celebrity of running mate Sarah Palin, on Friday morning John McCain finally faced some tough questions — from the ladies of The View. Perhaps “faced” isn’t the right word, as he risked whiplash turning from Joy to Barbara to Whoopi, who peppered the senator with the questions everyone has been wanting to ask this week: What were you thinking? What’s happened to you?

Joy Behar pins McCain to the couch with questions about his recent ads, citing the “lipstick on a pig” dissembling and the infamous “sex-ed in kindergarten” smear: “Now, we know that those two ads are untrue, they’re lies. and yet you at the end of it says, ‘I approved this message. Do you really approve them?”

“They’re not lies,” McCain says.

Let’s watch:

Defending his choice of Alaska Gov. Palin as his running mate, McCain touts her as a “reformer” as his increasingly skeptical hostesses circle. Pressed on her record, he unconvincingly tries to fashion a purse from a sow’s earmark requests, claiming “not as a governor she didn’t.

As the show aired, the AP pounced:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Friday running mate Sarah Palin has never asked for money for lawmakers’ pet projects as Alaska governor when in fact she has sought nearly $200 million in earmarks this year.

Josh Marshall is less polite:

It’s become pathological. John McCain just claimed on TV that Sarah Palin has never requested an earmark for her state — when actually her state gets more earmarks than any other state in the country. And this year she asked for $197 million worth of them herself. …

For the record Palin requested $197 million this year and $256 million last year. Per capita, that’s $288 this year and $376 last year.

To give you some perspective, Palin herself requested at least ten times the dollar value of earmarks as most states get total every year.

TPMTv captures McCain’s “misstatement”:

Later, When Behar says, “You know, you used to be more of a maverick and then you turned,” observing that McCain “became more lockstep” with the Bush administration, McCain defends his 2008 version with: “I’m the same person I always was.” It’s a heartfelt exchange:

In perhaps the most unexpected exchange, Whoopi Goldberg discusses McCain’s “strict Constitutionalists” test for Supreme Court nominees and asks, “Should I be worried about being a slave or being returned to slavery?” McCain says he “understands her point,” as the ladies joke about taking care of their African American members:

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