The Arizona senator who took the stage last night to sing the praises of that miserable failure some people call president, had quite a different take during the last campaign.

Senator John McCain, in a provocative and politically risky speech, sharply criticized leaders of the religious right on Monday as ''agents of intolerance'' allied to his rival, Governor George W. Bush, and denounced what he said were the tactics of ''division and slander.''

Specifically, Mr. McCain singled out the evangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as ''corrupting influences on religion and politics'' and said parts of the religious right were divisive and even un-American.

The only difference this time around is that the Trojan horse of the extreme, right-wing reactionary Republican rhetoric is being kept at bay.

And as they look court the Catholic vote, the media seem to forget that Bush was forced to apologize for the clearly anti-Catholic overtures he made last time around.

The Texas governor sent the letter Friday after being confronted by continuing criticism from the McCain camp that he appeared at Bob Jones University on Feb. 2 without speaking out against prejudice. The university, a conservative Christian institution in Greenville, South Carolina, bans interracial dating, and its officials have derided the Catholic faith.

The media also seem to forget that although McCain took the high road in his address to convention delegates in New York, his place in history is substantially tarnished for being part of the Keating Five and the savings and loan debacle that cost taxpayers $2.6 billion.


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