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The best lies $6.1 million can buy

If President Obama has failed as spectacularly as his Republican detractors argue, shouldn't it be easier for them to come up with honest attack ads?

In other words, if Obama's presidency has been genuinely awful, the right shouldn't have any trouble at all coming up with devastating criticism based solely on facts -- there would be no need to make stuff up because the truth would be brutal enough on its own.

And yet, the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity is running new attack ads like this one.

The investment behind this spot is pretty remarkable given that it's only April and the election is still 192 days away.

The group Americans for Prosperity just went up with a $6.1 million ad buy in swing states that accuses the Obama administration of squandering American taxpayer dollars on green energy projects, asserting that some of the money actually went to foreign entities. The ad is going up in eight states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia.

The principal problem with the commercial is that it's breathtakingly wrong. AFP would have voters believe the administration gave $1.2 billion "to a solar company that's building a plant in Mexico," when in reality the investment was a federal loan guarantee for an energy project in California. The ad points to "half a billion to an electric car company that created hundreds of jobs in Finland," which is a claim that made the rounds last fall, before being completely and thoroughly debunked.

Stephen Lacey and Rebecca Leber ran a detailed fact-check of the ad that's well worth checking out, but the larger point that's worth pondering is the fact that the Koch brothers and their attack operation feel the need to lie so blatantly in the first place. To hear Republicans tell it, the Recovery Act that saved the American economy was a terrible disaster. It wasn't, but that's their pitch.

But if the stimulus were really so bad, couldn't Americans for Prosperity find legitimate criticisms that stand up to scrutiny? Why lie when the truth is supposed to be so damaging? Perhaps because the facts aren't on conservatives' side at all.

What's more, I'd be remiss if I didn't note the level of irony underpinning the AFP's new offensive. They're complaining that the Obama administration's investments benefited overseas workers, but someone might want to remind the Koch brothers that they're trying to elect Mitt Romney -- who, as Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and the Obama campaign have noted in recent months, has quite a record of outsourcing American jobs and investing heavily outside the United States.

It's almost as if the right is trying to neutralize one of Romney's vulnerabilities by projecting his faults onto the president in an I'm-rubber-you're-glue sort of way.