Page last updated at 05:28 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 06:28 UK
McCain and Obama clash in TV debate

Barack Obama and John McCain made a number of arguable claims during their second presidential debate.

The BBC News website took a look to see which claims stacked up - and which ones were less than accurate.


Claim: Barack Obama said: "The oil companies... currently have 68 million acres that they're not using. Either you use them or you lose them."

Fact: Mr Obama was probably basing his claim on a June report from the Democratic staff of the House Natural Resources Committee, which cited statistics from the Interior Department's Minerals Revenue Management that classified 67,055,715 acres of oil and gas leases as "non-producing" in 2007.

But just because land is defined as "non-producing", it doesn't mean that it is not being used. It can take more than 10 years for an oil company to start producing oil or natural gas from a parcel of land, during which they are often engaging in serious exploratory work.

Throughout this time, however, the land parcel in question must officially be described as "non-producing".

Verdict: It is misleading for Mr Obama to use statistics about "non-producing" land to make a point about oil companies not using their existing land holdings.


Claim: John McCain said Mr Obama "has voted 94 times to either increase your taxes or against tax cuts".

Fact: The claim comes from a Republican National Committee fact sheet, which counted votes on non-binding budget resolutions, as well as votes that, in the opinion of "would not have resulted in a net tax increase, but instead redistributed the burden among different payers".

Using the RNC's methodology, in an effort to demonstrate the bogusness of the McCain team's claims, the Obama campaign released their own fact sheet detailing the 477 times that Mr McCain had "voted for tax increases or against tax cuts".

Verdict: Technically, Mr McCain's claim can be stood up, but - as the Obama camp's tallying of McCain's 477 pro-tax hike votes demonstrates, such apparent statistical exactness actually obfuscates more than it enlightens.


Claim: Mr Obama said that "the computer was originally invented by a bunch of government scientists who were trying to figure out, for defence purposes, how to communicate".

Fact: Early versions of the computer were developed by governments during World War II, but the personal computer was created by private enterprise in the 1980s. However, the first version of the internet was created as a secure network by US defence scientists working for ARPA who were trying to find a way to protect networks from nuclear attack.

Verdict: It does sound here like Mr Obama was referring to the internet, but misspoke.


Claim: John McCain said that "an energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies... sponsored by Bush and Cheney" was supported by "that one", meaning Barack Obama.

Fact: Mr Obama did vote for the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which did indeed contain tax breaks for oil companies.

But, as have pointed out "according to a Congressional Research Service report, more tax breaks were taken away from oil companies than were given. Overall, the Act resulted in a small net tax increase on the oil industry."

The Act contained about $2.6bn of tax cuts for the oil and gas industry, but also $2.9bn of tax increases on the oil and gas industry.

It also provided tax breaks to alternative sources of energy.

Verdict: Mr McCain's claim is misleading - the opposite of his claim is actually the case.

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