I told myself after last week's issue that I was done with election columns until October, at least. However, a scattered group of conversations has kind of forced my hands to type out what I'm promising to be my last political column until October. It's not really about politics, however, but rather a political figure that has become a bane to the existence of the Clinton clan.

I'm, of course, talking about U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois.

What began last year as a long-shot presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination against the venerable U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, has turned into a possible political upset in the making. Of course, as I write this, the March 4 primaries have not taken place yet, so the race may be a lot closer as you read this.

What can I say? Deadlines and paid printers are two things that sometimes don't cooperate with certain historical events.

But back to the topic at hand - with Obama's position (as of press time) as a frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination comes a host of criticism and, unfortunately, some pretty ridiculous rumors being taken by some as fact. However, I'm only going to focus on what I feel are two of the most serious and egregious errors being floated around.

Now, stop me if you've heard this one: "Obama's a Muslim and was sworn in on the Koran."

I have relatives who have said they will not vote for Obama, even if he is the nominee in November, because he is a Muslim. Imagine my surprise at that little piece of news.

First of all, Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., was raised as a Muslim, but did not practice the religion by the time his son was born. In fact, the Illinois senator said in his 2006 autobiography, "The Audacity of Hope," that he was not raised in a religious household.

I'm sure there are more than a few people out there who can lay claim to that, even if they would rather not admit it publicly. By the way, Obama is a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ, the largest congregation of the UCC with an estimated 10,000 members.

Also, Obama was not sworn in on the Koran, although there is nothing in the constitution that says he is required to be sworn into office with a religious text, even a Bible. Oddly enough, I think religious freedom is mentioned, though. By the way, the person being confused for Obama is, in fact, someone else entirely.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, made headlines in 2006 when it was incorrectly stated by media outlets that he wanted to be sworn into office using a Koran. Rather, Ellison planned to pose with a Koran for a photo reenactment of his swearing-in ceremony. No books, Bible or otherwise, are used for the official ceremony.

In the end, Ellison, who is the first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. Congress, was given a copy of a Koran previously owned by one of the founding fathers of our nation, Thomas Jefferson, to use for his photo.

But these are just two rumors of many that are out there. I'm sure other candidates, Republican or Democrat, have them as well. What I'm asking you, the voter, to realize is that just because it's on the Internet doesn't mean it's true.

If anything, it should be more reason to take it with a grain of salt and find out the truth on your own. And if all else fails, trust the media. Shocking, huh?

Tim Olmeda is the news editor for the Nueces County Record Star. Readers may contact him via e-mail at news@recordstar.com