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By W. Gardner Selby December 15, 2010

Democratic wag Paul Begala says Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell has been in office about as long as Sarah Palin was Alaska's governor

Democratic banterer Paul Begala, a former Bill Clinton adviser who was once student-body president at the University of Texas, tried a Texas tack on CNN's "Situation Room" Dec. 6 to poke at Sarah Palin possibly being the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Palin governed Alaska, Begala said, which he described as home to fewer people than the Texas capital of Austin. An Austin American-Statesman editorial columnist, Ken Herman, later noted that Alaska has about 700,000 people, while Austin has about 786,000.

Begala continued: "Now, quick: Who's the mayor of Austin? Turns out it's Lee Leffingwell. And Lee Leffingwell's been the mayor of Austin for about as long as Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska, but nobody is saying that Lee Leffingwell ought to be president."

We're not getting into the population contrast or Leffingwell's designs on the White House. But has he been hizzoner about as long as Palin was governor?

According to a city of Austin web page, Leffingwell's term as mayor started June 22, 2009. So he's held that post for nearly 18 months of his three-year term. Palin was sworn into office as Alaska's governor Dec. 4, 2006, according to the Associated Press. She resigned effective July 26, 2009, according to another AP news article, having served about 32 months of her four-year term.

We asked Begala about his calculation. He replied by e-mail that while he checked the populations of Austin and Alaska, he also "should have checked the mayor's duration in office versus Palin's. I stand corrected."

In the spirit of his broadcasted Palin dig, Begala added: "So in another year and a half let's run the mayor for prez."

No comment. His statement is False.

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Our Sources

The Associated Press, news articles, "Jubilant crowd welcomes Sarah Palin to Fairbanks," posted by the Juneau Empire, Sept. 11, 2008 and "Sarah Palin Steps Down, Sean Parnell Sworn in as Governor of Alaska," posted by Fox News July 26, 2009 (accessed Dec. 13, 2010)

City of Austin, website, "Austin City Council, Mayor Lee Leffingwell" (accessed Dec. 13, 2010)

Austin American-Statesman, political column, Ken Herman, editorial section staff writer, "How's that hopey, weirdy thing working out for ya?," Dec. 12, 2010 (accessed Dec. 13, 2010)

CNN, program transcript, "Situation Room," Dec. 6, 2010

E-mail (excerpted), Paul Begala, Democratic commentator, response to PolitiFact Texas, Dec. 13, 2010

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Democratic wag Paul Begala says Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell has been in office about as long as Sarah Palin was Alaska's governor

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