Sections of an op-ed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul wrote on mandatory minimums in The Washington Times in September appear nearly identical to an article by Dan Stewart of The Week that ran a week earlier. The discovery comes amid reports from BuzzFeed that Paul plagiarized in his book and in several speeches.

Paul also delivered testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 16, 2013, that included the copied sections.

In an interview Sunday on ABC’s This Week, Paul said “hacks and haters” were trying to manufacture controversy over relatively minor transgressions.

“I take it as an insult and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting,” Paul told host George Stephanopoulos. “I have never intentionally done so.”

“And like I say, if, you know, if dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. But I can’t do that, because I can’t hold office in Kentucky then.”

The office of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has released a statement on allegations that he has plagiarized in speeches, his recent book, and in a recent op-ed in the Washington Times. It comes from Paul’s senior advisor Doug Stafford:

“In the thousands of speeches and op-eds Sen. Paul has produced, he has always presented his own ideas, opinions and conclusions. Sen. Paul also relies on a large number of staff and advisers to provide supporting facts and anecdotes – some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly.

“Footnotes presenting supporting facts were not always used. Going forward, footnotes will be available on request. There have also been occasions where quotations or typesetting indentations have been left out through errors in our approval process. From here forward, quoting, footnoting and citing will be more complete.

“Adherence to a new approval process implemented by Sen. Paul will ensure proper citation and accountability in all collaborative works going forward.

Sitting in a conference room in his Senate office complex, Mr. Paul, drawn and clearly shaken by the plagiarism charges, offered a mix of contrition and defiance. He said that he was not certain whether it would affect his prospects should he decide to run for president in 2016 — he said he would happily return to his Kentucky doctor’s practice — and he asserted that was being unfairly targeted.

Acknowledging that his office had “made mistakes,” he said he was putting a new system in place to ensure that all of his materials are properly footnoted and cited.

“What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we’re going to do them like college papers,” he said. “We’re going to try to put out footnotes. We’re going to have them available. If people want to request the footnoted version, we’re going to have it available.”

Mr. Paul also said he could not rule out that other examples of past plagiarism would come out, but he unequivocally added that no staff members would be fired.

The Washington Times said Tuesday it had independently reviewed Mr. Paul’s columns and op-eds and published a correction to one column on Sept. 20 in which the senator had failed to attribute a passage that first appeared in Forbes.

The newspaper and the senator mutually agreed to end his weekly column, which has appeared on each Friday in the newspaper since the summer.

“We expect our columnists to submit original work and to properly attribute material, and we appreciate that the senator and his staff have taken responsibility for an oversight in one column,” Times Editor John Solomon said.

For more than a week, Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s flagship host, has been doggedly pursuing the story surrounding Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) lifting of the plotlines of the movie Gattaca from the film’s Wikipedia page in a speech. She pursued the story nightly, even when there was no new information to report.

Her tenacity in pursuit of that story inspired a series of jokes among conservatives at Maddow’s expense. The seeming frivolity of the infraction on Paul’s part (or, more likely, his speechwriting staff’s part) did not merit the excessive coverage that Maddow devoted to it. Many believed that the MSNBC host was attempting to reignite her long-standing feud with the senator, even at the risk of her credibility…

A week ago, it was Maddow who could have been accused of “immaturity.” Today, she is vindicated. There is nothing trivial about plagiarism. Paul would be well-advised to take ownership of these infractions, correct for them, and ensure that they never happen again. Furthermore, he would also be well-served to not lash out at those who criticize them – especially when they can be so easily proven correct.

The second problem, which cuts straight to the heart of the difference between Rand Paul and his dad, is that he’s actually trying to win the presidency. If your goal is to genuinely compete in a general election with your once-marginalized ideas, instead of building a revolutionary movement at the margins, then you don’t need to be as clean as the competition–you need to be cleaner. Why? Call it The Weird Man’s Burden…

So what does that mean in this instance? If he wants to run for president, he needs to be better, not worse, and not merely as good, as the competition when it comes to the most seemingly trivial matters of comportment. Journalists, particularly (though not only) from those outlets sensitive to the allure that libertarian ideas have on some progressive voters, will be gunning for every possible gaffe, glitch, error of judgment, and stated deviance. He should consider it an honor to be challenged, instead of a challenge to get huffy about.

People who choose the Inside Game know, or at least should know, that the deck is stacked against them, and that they will be judged more harshly. Those were always the rules. On the upside, being the first real truth-teller inside an empire of lies carries with it enormous galvanizing potential. Whining about being picked on in this context is like complaining about getting fouled when you drive to the hoop against Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn. The answer is to dunk the damned basketball, not bitch to the refs. And for god’s sake, make sure your shoes are tied.

Via Greg Hengler.