During the 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina, GOP operatives spread the lie that Senator John McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child, when in fact his family had adopted a young girl from Bangladesh.

McCain denounced the smear as politics at its worst–and it was.

Now McCain is dipping into that very same race-tinged well by hiring operative Terry Nelson as his campaign manager for another presidential run, the man responsible for the racist television “bimbo” ad run against Harold Ford Jr. this year in Tennessee. Wal-Mart dropped Nelson as a consultant after the ad generated controversy and was eventually pulled from the air. McCain promoted him.

Nelson’s palate is not simply limited to racist ads. He was an unindicted co-conspirator in the effort spearheaded by Tom DeLay to illegally funnel corporate cash to Texas legislature candidates in 2002. He oversaw the guy who was convicted of improperly jamming Democratic Party phones in New Hampshire in 2002.

It’s more than a little ironic that McCain, Mr. Straight Talk Express, has chosen a campaign manager whose career represents a laundry list of scandal. It begs the question: Is McCain a hypocrite, a fraud, or both?