As the current political campaign season enters its final weeks it seems that we are going to be hammered by ads disparaging the candidates. It is bad enough that they persist in taking these viscous shots at each other, but they also play pretty fast and loose with the truth.
We are protected by laws that ensure truth in product advertising, but there is no such protection in political ads for the most part. A few states (such as MN) do have laws on the books to try to outlaw outright lying, but it seems that they are largely ineffectual and are no real deterrent. There is an interesting article on this at FactCheck.org.
Some examples from races in our area are particularly blatant. Our district's state senator has spent his entire term working to defeat any legislation that might spend any more money on schools, in the goal of keeping taxes down. However, the campaign literature that he sent to my house touted all of his efforts to benefit our schools. When they are struggling to pay their bills I don't see how he can claim to have been so helpful. Our illustrious Governor has run TV ads featuring a person who states that 'I'm not being paid to say this, I'm not an actor, I'm an accountant'. This person then proceeds to point out how the challenger's proposed expenditures will cost us all so much more in taxes. Later we hear that this 'non-actor' is actually an official in the Governor's party. He is made out to look like an impartial outside observer, when he is nothing of the sort. It would have been fine to have this person state that he is an accountant and has problems with the challenger's plans, but to throw in the implication that he is unbiased goes too far.
On top of these we see way too many examples where voting records and candidate statements are purposely misrepresented and taken out of context so as to paint an ugly picture. A vote for a bill with many amendments is taken as outright support for all of them - especially the ones that can be presented as evidence of a 'bad' voting record.
The way these folks lie and cheat in order to cover each other in mud it is no wonder they are regarded with less respect than sewer rats. And then they wonder why nobody likes politicians. Maybe if they would focus on promoting their positives, and just pointing out the true negatives of their opponents, they could start to work back toward a semblance of trust and respect. I am sure that some of them are good people who want to work for the betterment of society, but you'd never know it from the ads we are fed.