Not long ago, a good friend and I engaged in the taboo — a discussion about politics. When I said something critical of President G.W. Bush, my friend lashed out, “Well, that makes you a liberal and me a conservative.” Not so. But we ended the conversation and remained friends.

Labels are everything. It’s how simple minded people relate. It’s how we define one another, it’s how we define celebrities and politicians. We like the one-word pigeon holes, it makes it easy for we humans to identify who and what people are. Bush, the conservative. Clinton, the liberal. Bin Laden, the terrorist. Britney Spears, the mental case. Jack Kervorkian, Doctor Death. Pavarotti, the voice. Jeffrey Dahmer, the killer. Nixon, crook.

Much ado is being made these days of Senator McCain’s credentials as a “true” conservative.

Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. What does it matter? All that matters is his loyalty to the nation as an American, and his ability to lead the nation in fiscal responsibility and to make our citizens secure from foreign invaders.

These days, if a politician is opposed to abortion, that makes him a conservative. Pro-choice, means liberal. If a Republican dares to join with Democrats in forming bi-partisan legislation, the party dubs him disloyal and not a true conservative. Meanwhile, Senator McCain, like any politician, is sucking up to the power brokers and the special interest groups assuring everyone that he is everything they all want him to be. Just elect me, please!

Frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing the term bantered about as though conservative means “good” and liberal means “bad.” In my book, it all depends on the issue. When it comes to illegal immigration, I’m a hard core conservative. When it comes to legalizing marijuana, I’m a flaming liberal. Go ahead. Pigeon hole me.

Rush Limbaugh is considered the number one talk-show host in America. He’s bright, articulate and a hard-core, unapologetic conservative. I take issue with his brightness. One can listen to Rush on any given day and you cannot find one sentence from his lips that does not utter the words “conservative” or “liberal,” invariably in positive and negative context. That’s all that is on the man’s mind, pigeon-holing individuals according to their so-called “conservative” values.

We hear that stupid phrase all the time on news shows. I often wonder what it means — “conservative values” — as though it is synonymous with “Christian values.” Frankly, I would prefer hearing about American values, which could be liberal or conservative, Jewish or Christian, rich or poor, black or white. American values is all that matters.

Rush consistently lionizes George W. Bush as a great conservative. Is that so?

George W. Bush, and his Republican congress, presided over the greatest six years of spending in the history of this nation, never vetoing any bill that contained billions of dollars in unnecessary earmarks. That’s the kind of politics liberals are usually accused of.

George W. Bush presided over the greatest surge in illegal immigration in the nation’s history by failing to have the Justice Department prosecute employers, then proposing a plan that would give amnesty to over twelve million illegals. That’s a conservative?

George W. Bush argued to allow our nation’s ports to be secured by a Islamic mid-east country, not long after three thousands citizens were murdered in a terrorist attack by mid-east Islamics. Conservative?

Now, Rush, and other hard-core “conservatives” are on the warpath dubbing McCain as not being conservative enough, and pledging to scuttle his election. In doing so, he and others like, him, (Hannity, Beck, Savage) are dooming the Republican party in the upcoming election by handing it over to Hillary or Barack. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, depending on one’s orientation, but it’s plain stupid on the part of the so-called kings of talk shows.

Fact is, John McCain has often been accused of being the Republican party maverick because, historically, he does not march in lock-step with party policy, thus demonstrating he has a mind of his own. I consider that a good thing. What’s best for America is, and should be, always more important than what’s best for the party. Politics aside, I have always respected the man.

Meanwhile, as Hillary and Barack stand by laughing, Republican in-fighting will assure the Democratic nominee the forthcoming election. All over a stupid label. After January of 2009, the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of America will bitch and complain about all the liberal policies of the new president, the pro-life Supreme Court Justices, the clamp on run-away spending, and the stop to an unnecessary war, pointing fingers and issuing blame everywhere but in their own bailiwick — which is where it will belong.

As for me, I’m waiting for the first candidate to tell us what he or she will do about the impending incursion of radical Islam extremism within the borders of our country. That, alone, will likely be the most pressing problem facing the future of America, yet no one utters a word.

Is that a liberal or a conservative issue? It’s neither. It’s an American issue. It’s about our grandchildren. Let’s hope the next president has the guts to stand up to the threat.

As for me, ask me the issue before assigning a label. I’m a fan of another great American named, Johnny Cash. Just like him, I Walk The Line.