Once again we have a case of plagiarism, which is as old as writing itself, but now we have a growing offshoot: fabricating entire books. They are not exactly the same, but both are literary rip-offs. This crime spree gets mentally delicious, if you like fakes, frauds and rotten scoundrels getting their comeuppance. Let’s start with plagiarism. The latest liar and thief worked in the White House, of all places. That’s certainly a first. He is Tim Goeglein, who had served as an aide to President George W. Bush since 2001, working as a liaison to social and religious conservatives. Before that, he had worked for Gary Bauer and Karl Rove. What is it about televangelists, law-n-order officeholders and uptight moralists that makes them such hypocrites? In Goeglein’s case, he had published guest op/ed columns in his hometown paper, The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Ind., for more than a decade. But a former colleague at the paper discovered the aide had lifted major paragraphs in his column from The Dartmouth Review. Further investigation by the newspaper turned up 19 cases of Goeglein’s plagiarism from the New York Sun and the Washington Post, among others. Recall that recently Barack Obama was caught using sections of a speech first delivered by a friend, Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Hillary Clinton immediately demanded that Obama drop out of the race, adding, “As I have often said while dodging sniper fire in Bosnia, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.’” Obama refused to quit, vowing, “We shall fight in the fields. We shall fight in the villages. We shall fight on the beaches, for all I have to offer is blood, sweat and tears, and don’t steal those lines, Hillary.” There are other instances of plagiarism in politics. Sen. Joe Biden had to drop out of the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries when it was discovered he was stealing entire speeches from a British politician. Thomas Jefferson, in writing the Declaration of Independence, borrowed heavily from John Locke’s 1693 Concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government. Charles Caleb Colton wrote, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” At least Colton claims he wrote that. Plagiarism is also flattery, and abounds. The authors of “Roots” and “The Da Vinci Code” were accused of looting other writers’ works. Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin resigned her post on a Pulitzer Prize committee and was dropped by PBS after it became known that she had lifted several paragraphs from other authors in some of her books. Stephen Ambrose was found to have plagiarized entire passages in at least six books and investigators found a similar pattern of plagiarism going all the way back to his doctoral thesis. Speaking of doctorial theses, the president of a medium-sized Texas university and his wife were both accused of stealing information in their doctorial theses years earlier. He resigned to “gather material that will prove my innocence.” I never heard from him again. I am told that today, with computers and Web sites, professors have a real problem spotting students stealing term papers whole cloth. In Latin, a plagiarius is a kidnapper, literally one who snares another’s child or slave in a plaga or net. Until the late 17th century, the English term was ‘’plagiary’’; only then did it acquire an ‘’ism,’’ suggesting a syndrome or habit rather than an individual perpetrator. And only then did plagiarism come to mean the theft, not of any beloved person or thing, but specifically and exclusively of writing. Incidentally, I stole the above paragraph in its entirety from a review of “Stolen Words” by Thomas Mallon. Another form of this duplicity is self- plagiarism, whereby a journalist submits a column that he or she had written before. In recent years the Houston Chronicle has had problems with two journalists – one column had appeared years before, the other liberally lifted from the Washington Post. I never do that – submit a column that I have written before. Indeed, I never submit a column that I have written before, as I was telling President Carter. Never do that, submit something twice. Never repeat myself. There is another form of literary theft: defrauding the publisher by writing a book that isn’t true. Recently there was the embarrassing case of “Love and Consequences,” the gripping autobiography of Margaret B. Jones, a half-white, half-Native American, who lived in Los Angeles with a foster family, ran drugs for street gangs, but graduated from the University of Oregon. After interviews, a scheduled book tour and a profile in The New York Times Magazine, it turns out Margaret B. Jones is really Margaret Seltzer, who never did any of that. She grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles with her all-white biological family. She graduated from a private Episcopal school, but did not graduate from the University of Oregon. The red-faced publisher, Riverhead Books, part unit of Penguin Group USA, recalled all the books and cancelled the tour. Two years ago James Frey wrote a best-selling memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” which detailed his life of drug addiction and recovery. Oprah Winfrey had Frey on her show to tout the book. Unfortunately, much of his story turned out to be exaggerations or outright lies. Winfrey brought him back on TV to chastise him. We must also include “Hitler’s Diaries.” But perhaps the best known literary hoaxer was Clifford Irving. In 1972 he sold a bogus autobiography of Howard Hughes to the McGraw Hill Book Company for a $765,000 advance. He can now put on his dust cover that he spent 17 months in jail for fraud. Finally, remember that stealing from one source is called “plagiarism.” Stealing from many is called “research.” This column has been extensively researched, because in God we trust, mission accomplished and a penny saved is a penny earned. You may quote me, but give credit. Ashby researches at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..