Senator John McCain

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Last week someone forwarded me the e-story of a vacationing family thrown together with Sen. John McCain and his family at a luxury resort on Turtle Island, Fiji. McCain comes off as overbearing, tedious and a lecherous pig—a boor, bore and boar.

The piece is so explicit—written with such outrage and so filled with detail—that its truth seems self-evident.

Or, is it the work of a master fiction writer out to spread a rumor and help scuttle John McCain's campaign?

Welcome to a discussion about rumors and smears—and what to do if you're the spreader, the smearee or the smearer.

One day God and St. Peter met on the first tee of the celestial golf course, and St. Peter hit a magnificent drive straight down the fairway.

God stepped up, addressed the ball and-with a mighty swing-hooked it deep into the woods.

One minute later, a squirrel with God's golf ball in its mouth ran out of the woods and started across the fairway.

Whereupon an eagle swooped out of the sky, grabbed the squirrel in its talons and flew off. When the eagle got over the hole, it squeezed the squirrel, who dropped the ball, which landed on the green and rolled into the cup for a hole-in-one.

St. Peter turned to God. "Are you going to play golf," he asked, "or are you going to screw around?"

From where I sit, both presidential candidates are screwing around.

The nuts-and-bolts of the issues are buried under mounds of slung mud.

And in terms of marketing, John McCain is playing a most dangerous game.

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