Hopefully the left will challenge this. Anything that keeps McCain’s heroism front and center, without a shred of evidence from any eyewitness that he’s lying, is tantamount to an in-kind campaign contribution. More, please.

I called Orson Swindle, a fellow POW who is campaigning for McCain, to ask him about it.

“I recall John telling that story when we first got together in 1971, when were talking about every conceivable thing that had ever happened to us when we were in prison” Swindle told me a few minutes ago. “Most of us had been kept apart or in small groups. Then, in 1970, they moved us into the big cell. And when we all got to see each other and talk to each other directly, instead of tapping through walls, we had 24 hours a day, seven days a week to talk to each other, and we shared stories. I vaguely recall that story being told, among other stories.”

“I remember it from prison,” Swindle continued. “There were several stories similar to that in which guards — a very few, I might add — showed compassion to the prisoners. It was rare, and I never met one, but some of the guys did.”

I’ll make you follow the link for Swindle’s assessment of the naysayers. He’s right too about the guards and their associates occasionally showing compassion; Bob Owens googled around to see if he could corroborate McCain’s story and stumbled upon a similar incident involving former POW (and GOP senator) Jeremiah Denton. The dumbest part of all of this — aside from the fact that the nutroots is pushing it into the mainstream media, where it’ll redound to McCain’s advantage and dirty St. Barack’s hands by association — is that if he was going to make up stories to prove his devotion while in prison, surely he could do better than this. I remember some lefty (at TNR, I think) noting quite rightly after McCain’s Christmas ad came out that the specifics of it really are more a testament to his captor’s faith and humanity than to McCain’s. If Maverick wanted to dazzle believers with evidence of his own grace under pressure, he’s got material to work with. But then, this is a guy whose son was stationed in Iraq and yet who almost never mentions that fact on the trail even though it gives him moral cover in his push for a sustained troop presence. Anyway, rock on, nutroots.