I have received some interesting e-mails lately regarding my skepticism of all of the men and women running for president this year.

For instance, Mitt Romney supporters, apparently swayed by endorsements or adulation offered up by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, among others, want to know why I am not falling in lockstep with these notable conservatives.

Well, first of all, regular readers of my columns and books will know that I do not consider myself a conservative. I reject the label out of hand. I won’t get into this whole discussion here, but feel free to review what I have previously written – over and over again.

Secondly, I have written reams on the shortcomings of Mitt Romney. I’ve explained specifically why he’s a phony and not to be trusted. It’s simply wishful thinking to believe that a smart, good-looking, ambitious multimillionaire suddenly and earnestly changed positions on every issue under the sun in time for the 2008 presidential election. Paul had his Damascus Road experience, but I am deeply suspect of Romney’s Washington Road experience.

Thirdly, ask yourself who was right in 2000? Did not all of the above well-intentioned friends of mine all swoon over George W. Bush? Did they not tell you he was the next Ronald Reagan? And what did I say?

In case you forgot, I warned you that Bush was dangerous – that electing leaders like him had the potential to destroy the Republican Party. I told you he was a phony “conservative.”

I warned you in the primary season in 2000, and I warned you again in the general election.

Let us concede, at least, that I have differed with these illustrious men and women of the media before. And I think my independent position in previous elections has been vindicated by history.

So when I tell you Romney is a phony – and certainly no conservative – I can say I speak from experience. I can say I have a track record of accurately forecasting bad presidents. I can say I have a track record of seeing through campaign rhetoric even when many around me seemingly cannot.

And that goes for John McCain, too. I warned you about him way back in 2000 when he ran the first time. I put him in the same category as Bush, though I certainly think he has the potential to be far worse – even dangerous, because of his temperament.

Where does that leave us?

Again, it leaves us without many exciting choices for president in 2008.

Obviously, I am not going to support Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or Michael Bloomberg.

But there are two men left in the race that deserve further scrutiny and consideration. Neither is perfect. Neither was my first choice. But if you insist on playing the lesser of evils game, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee should be considered.

My reservations about Paul are twofold: He’s wrong about the external threats we face as a nation. He believes we brought them all on ourselves. He believes they will disappear if we retreat. He’s just plain wrong about that. He also has no experience in governing and leading. It’s easy to sit in the House of Representatives and vote correctly, which he has done, most of the time, for many years. Turning around the federal monster single-handedly is another story.

My reservations about Huckabee run deeper: His record as governor of Arkansas was not good at all – tax increases, welcoming illegal aliens with open arms, pardons for killers, corruption. He’s still enamored of the powerful elite and courts New World Order types as advisers. And while correcting a number of positions from the past, he still seems to think government is part of the solution, not part of the problem, as Ronald Reagan understood.

But that’s where we are today.

That’s a little insight into my political soul.

Now do you understand why I don’t run with the pack?

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