Mark Kirk, the Republican running for President Obama's old Senate seat, said on several occasions that he received the Navy's exclusive Intelligence Officer of the Year award. He hasn't. And the Washington Post found out about it.

The award is given to one individual a year. And is thus a big deal. Kirk, who is currently a Congressman, wasn't particularly ambiguous about his winning it, either. He claimed it on several occasions. Most notably during a House committee hearing in 2002 when he said simply: "I was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year."

Except he wasn't. The intelligence unit he served in in Serbia in the 1990s (not he as an individual) won another award entirely — one given by some private group, not the Navy. His spokesman, the wonderfully-named Eric Elk, would say only that "we found the award was misidentified and corrected the name."

It's amazing how these mistakes always make politicians look better. We've looked at the law of averages and it seems that the mathematics should lead half of all misspeakings, misstatements and misidentifyings to make the person look like their service was less spectacular than in fact it was. But this never seems to happen. Weird.