McCaughey first began lying in 1994, because she was bored. While working at a conservative think tank and conferring on the regular with the tobacco industry, McCaughey wrote a lengthy and incredibly misleading story about Bill Clinton's health care reform bill that Andrew Sullivan's New Republic happily printed, despite the fact that it was just full of lies.
Michelle Cottle just wrote a piece for Franklin Foer's newer, less annoying New Republic all about McCaughey, and while it doesn't go into the gritty details of how incredibly irresponsible Sullivan was as an editor back in the '90s, when TNR printed all sorts of bullshit for attention and to be provocative, it is satisfyingly mean to McCaughey.
After her lying article of lies became a series of false talking points repeated endlessly by Republicans (like friendly old Bob Dole), everyone noticed that this cheerfully dishonest ideologue was also a nice-looking blonde lady! A veteran Republican pol selected her as a running mate! You can imagine what happened next.
Celebrated for both her brains and beauty, she was declared a brave new model of feminist pol. (A glam-shot photo spread in Vanity Fair set the GOP abuzz, while the New York Post cheered her for having "Henry Kissinger's brains and Jessica Rabbit's body.") Even some of her academic quirkiness—her love of raw data and obsession with pie charts—conveyed a not-politics-as-usual freshness. Admittedly, there were bumps of the sort former Governor Palin could sympathize with: Anonymous Pataki staffers dropped quotes about the newbie candidate being unusually self-absorbed, and her frequent clashes with the veteran Pataki aide assigned to help her adjust to campaign life were downright operatic. (During one battle, McCaughey had her campaign van pull over on the side of a highway as she shrieked at the aide to get out.)
Of course her political "career" ended in disaster because she's impossible to work with or for, and she rightfully faded back into obscurity at another conservative think tank. Until, weirdly, she came back with columns and op-eds and radio appearances and TV interviews in which she shamelessly lied about Barack Obama's health care plans, just this year! It is weird how that happens, right? How no one is ever so wrong that they're not allowed back on TV to be wrong some more, as long as they're useful to people with lots of money at stake?
This also means, of course, that Sarah Palin will never completely go away.