To file under rumors John McCain shouldn't rush to squelch: Man-handling Communists. Republican Sen. Thad Cochran is telling a newspaper in his home state of Mississippi that in 1987 McCain, acting in his capacity as co-chair of Central American working group in the Senate, traveled to Nicaragua to meet with the Sandinistas. He especially didn't like one of them. According to Cochran, "John... reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever..." That sound you just heard was Oliver North denying he creamed his jeans.

Cochran again:

"I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission.' I don't know what had happened to provoke John, but he obviously got mad at the guy ... and he just reached over there and snatched ... him."

This is the man who everyday gave the finger and shouted "Fuck you!" to his Vietcong captors, so it's definitely plausible. Except not to Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute, which McCain chairs: "Honestly, if my boss had grabbed a foreign government official like that and lifted him up I would certainly remember that." Why the McCain camp rejected this anecdote instead of letting it impress the hawks and wingers before its quick death on the vine is a mystery. The Russians love their wrasslin' pituitary case of a leader, why can't we?

[Associated Press]