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By Ned Cantwell

If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts. This is very scary when you think about the future of New Mexico.Failed presidential candidate Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, has not been truthful about the reason he dropped out of the presidential race. Although quite popular in New Mexico, where he is affectionately called “Big Bill,” the aspiring politician has a tarnished past.When serving as Secretary of the Department of Energy, Richardson had an illicit relationship with Hillary Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton.When Hillary, who simply referred to him as “Bill,” ended the affair, Richardson was shuffled out of the White House.Richardson, however, had developed a strong affinity for power and began dreaming of taking up residence in the nation’s most famous home. Although he repeatedly denied to New Mexico constituents he harbored these aspirations, the governor, sure enough, entered the presidential race in 2007.His campaign did not gain a lot of traction, but the persistent candidate soldiered on, looking forward to the Nevada primary as the spark that would ignite a nationwide grass roots movement. It was then that Barack Obama, seeing Richardson as his ultimate challenger, sent word to the New Mexico governor that he was aware of the years-ago affair and would make it public if Richardson did not drop out of the race.Big Bill immediately announced he was abandoning his hopes for the White House and quietly slipped back into New Mexico, where he grew a beard in a futile attempt to hide from the press. Flecks of super-sized Snickers bars on his facial hair tipped off alert reporters. Outlandish? Of course.Full of lies? You know it is. Sadly, though, rubbish like this gets written on the Internet on a regular basis and is forwarded like wildfire in e-mails as though it were the gospel truth.There is no more important revolution in communication than the amazing power of the web. Its potential for good is unlimited. Its downside for malicious harm is frightening.Did you know Barack Obama is a radical Muslim who refuses to honor the Pledge of Allegiance and insisted on using the Koran instead of the Bible when sworn into Senate office? Claptrap. Did you know that President George Bush refused to sell his Dallas home to a black person? Pure balderdash.You can demean traditional media all you want, but the fact is that before something appears in your newspaper, there has been at least some attempt to verify its validity. Not true with the Internet, where anything goes and where naive readers too often accept as “reporting” even the most outrageous tales.But popular blogs, although prone to leaning heavily on unconfirmed rumor, often do some good things.New Mexico political blogger Joe Monahan, as an example, posted on his website a county by county breakdown of the voting totals as they came in within hours of the New Mexico Democratic primary.Tom Jefferson was a fan of the printed word. Said he in 1787, “Were it up to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”We newspaper folks like to forget that in 1807, Jefferson said, “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.” Wonder what old Tom would have thought about the Internet?

Ned Cantwell – ncantwell@beyondbb.com – thinks if you can’t get your hands dirty reading it, it’s probably not news.