The Bush administration’s propaganda arm — which operates under the misnomer: White House Communications office — is pushing the fantasy that Thursday’s House vote to delay action on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement was “trade pandering.”

But what does former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican with a long record of backing free trade pacts and a basic sympathy with the Colombia FTA say?

“The Colombian free-trade agreement faces stiff opposition because many in Congress believe the Colombian government has not taken sufficient measures to ensure the safety and security of its workers. This opposition could derail its passage this year, setting a negative precedent for the Colombia FTA, as well as for the Panamanian and South Korean free trade agreements,” says Lugar.

Are these belief’s irrational?

Lugar doesn’t seem to think so.

“I ask President Bush to work with the Colombian Government to show tangible progress regarding labor practices in Colombia,” says the Republican senator. “Without proof in this regard the significant economic and political benefits of the FTA with Colombia could be jeopardized.”

In the House, six Republicans broke with their party leadership — and the White House — in order to pander to workers in the U.S. and Colombia, farm, environmental and human rights groups that say the Colombia FTA is the wrong deal at the wrong time.

Along with the 218 Democrats who voted against what is officially referred to as “the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement,” the six Republicans who voted “no” were: Alabamans Bob Aderholt and Mike Rogers, Virginian Virgil Goode, North Carolinians Robin Hayes and Walter Jones and Texan Ron Paul.

Does the White House think these Republicans were pandering?

Does the White House think that Richard Lugar does not know what he is talking about?

Or is the White House Propaganda, er, Communications office just spinning?