In the coming weeks, your morning commute will take you through a landscape of lies, damned lies and campaign slogans. These signs are, as The Five Man Electrical Band once put it, blocking out the scenery and breaking your mind. Billboard Spotter will do its best to interpret where the road markers point.
Sign: "Pants on Fire."
Location: We saw it on Highway 30, near Metro Central Hazardous Waste. But there are about 30 across the city.
What it says: "FALSE or TRUE? Portland school bond improves education. PANTS ON FIRE. Vote no on 26-144."
What's at state: Ballot measure 26-144, a $482 million construction bond to replace Portland Public School buildings.
What it's really saying: "Take that, pedantic PolitiFact Oregon referees. We just used your Truth-O-Meter to state an opinion that cannot easily be quantified, and there's nothing your fact-checkers can do about it. Nyah, nyah, nyah."
Who paid for it: Oregon Transformation Project, a Republican-oriented PAC funded chiefly by Stimson Lumber.
What they say: Lindsay Berschauer, Oregon Transformation Project's director, says she's whacking two enemies with one sign. "Clearly, the billboard is a satire of PolitiFact," Burschauer says. "There's been speculation that PolitiFact is biased or slanted in the way they do their rulings. I thought, well, how can we highlight the fact that one of the arguments [for the measure] is that bricks and mortar improve education? There is absolutely no evidence that that's the case."
UPDATE, 6:29 pm:
The Tampa-based headquarters of PolitiFact sent a cease-and-desist letter to Oregon Transformation Project on Friday, demanding the conservative activists take down billboards that use the "Truth-O-Meter" logo.
"We didn't think we'd ruffle feathers that much," says Rob Kremer, treasurer for Oregon Transformation Project. "I think a reasonable person could certainly see it's a parody."
See a billboard you want explained? Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.