I'm sure you've known someone in your life who insists that something is true, despite the fact that he has absolutely no proof to back it up, other than his own undying faith and his desperate desire that his belief be true. That girl who insists that her boyfriend is faithful, despite how often she gets weird late-night hang-up calls. The guy who loudly proclaims the inescapable truth that all women are stupid and evil, no matter how non-stupid or non-evil any actual women he knows may be. The child who knows that Santa Claus is real. The Defense Secretary who knows that Iraq has WMDs.

The word "truthiness" was invented by comedian Stephen Colbert on the first episode of "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central on October 17, 2005. The program is a satire of "talking head" political television shows, particularly the Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor" with conservative blowhard/falafel enthusiast Bill O'Reilly.

In Colbert's monologue, he said:
"I will speak to you in plain, simple English. And that brings us to tonight's word: 'truthiness.' Now I'm sure some of the 'word police,' the 'wordanistas' over at Webster's are gonna say, 'hey, that's not a word.' Well, anyone who knows me knows I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books. I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart. And that's exactly what's pulling our country apart today. 'Cause face it, folks; we are a divided nation. Not between Democrats and Republicans, or conservatives and liberals, or tops and bottoms. No, we are divided between those who think with their head, and those who know with their heart."
And that really seemed to sum up the way things were, politically, in the first years of the 21st century. Everyone believed things that were kinda like the truth, except they weren't really true at all -- but it didn't really matter, because being kinda like the truth was better than the real truth. The truth could make you feel unhappy or worried -- but truthiness always made you feel good and strong and brave and important. The point was not to arrive at the truth, but to stoke one's own ego.

Everyone knew that Iraq had WMDs because, well, it really seemed like they should. Everyone knew that the same media that dutifully reported GOP talking points was liberal because, well, everyone says it's so. Everyone knew that Terri Schiavo was alive and okay, because, well, who wouldn't want to believe that a nice person couldn't recover from a terrible injury? Everyone knew that the President was keeping us safe because, well, isn't it nice to feel safe? Everyone knew that dissent is treason because, well, wouldn't it be fun to curbstomp those fags who make fun of George?

"Truthiness" got more and more play, and in January 2006, the American Dialect Society chose it as the 2005 word of the year. Is it a word that is here to stay, or will it fade as current administration scandals fade? Only time will tell...

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