Congressman Ron Paul is currently placing third in the Floria primary polls, behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (who is leading!) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, but he got amused at last night's debate, when he said of Newt Gingrich's moon base idea, "I don't think we should go to the moon. I think we maybe should send some politicians up there." Less amusing is the Washington Post's report that Paul did in fact know that his newsletters contained racist content.

A former secretary at Paul's company told the WaPo, "It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. ... He would proof it." Another associate, though, disagreed, saying that Paul was too busy, "He was in demand as a speaker; he was traveling around the country. I just do not believe he was either writing or regularly editing this stuff." But an unnamed person said:

A person involved in Paul’s businesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid criticizing a former employer, said Paul and his associates decided in the late 1980s to try to increase sales by making the newsletters more provocative. They discussed adding controversial material, including racial statements, to help the business, the person said.

“It was playing on a growing racial tension, economic tension, fear of government,’’ said the person, who supports Paul’s economic policies but is not backing him for president. “I’m not saying Ron believed this stuff. It was good copy. Ron Paul is a shrewd businessman.’’

The articles included racial, anti-Semitic and anti-gay content. They claimed, for example, that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “seduced underage girls and boys’’; they ridiculed black activists by suggesting that New York be named “Zooville” or “Lazyopolis”; and they said the 1992 Los Angeles riots ended “when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.’’ The June 1990 edition of the Ron Paul Political Report included the statement: “Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.”

The WaPo adds, "It is unclear precisely how much money Paul made from his newsletters, but during the years he was publishing them, he reduced his debts and substantially increased his net worth, according to his congressional and presidential disclosure reports. In 1984, he reported debt of up to $765,000, most of which was gone by 1995, when he reported a net worth of up to $3.3 million. Last year, he reported a net worth up to $5.2 million."

While Paul has denied that he realized the content in various newsletters was offensive, his campaign has previously said, "Ultimately, because the writing appeared under his name and he should have better policed it, Dr. Paul has assumed responsibility, apologized for his lack of oversight and disavowed the offensive material." Plus, Kelly Clarkson still likes him. Come on, people, isn't it easier to enjoy his folksy charm when answering questions about whether he's too old for office?