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We couldn’t help but feel yesterday that Salon got set up. The charges against Allen (used the N-word, dead deer head in black family’s mailbox) seemed a bit too good to be true and bit poorly sourced. Then journos looking into the story began getting flooded with refutations, character witnesses, and counter-accusations from Allen HQ. Then the good Senator’s blog had a couple remarkably well-researched posts responding to the charges by Monday afternoon. Suddenly the story was about Salon itself, or the trustworthiness of Scherer’s only named source, or that weird deer story, and it seemed like Allen’s guys had finally learned damage control.

One thing they didn’t count on: LARRY SABATO, the single smartest human being ever.

Appearing on Hardball last night, he almost — but not quite — claims to have personally heard Senator Allen use the (in their charmingly euphemistic phrase) “N-word.” And when Larry Sabato says you used the N-word, that story’s got legs.

Meanwhile, Macaca spits at people and Webb’s campaign calls Allen a Jew so self-hating, he’s actually a Nazi. And Mr. Reasonable himself, Brendan “Too Hardcore for The American Prospect” Nyhan, thinks we aren’t even-handed enough.

Oy.

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