Even the United Nations sponge who called the United States “stingy” immediately retracted the insult, saying he had been misinterpreted and that the U.S. was “most generous.” But the New York Times was sticking with “stingy.” In an editorial subtly titled “Are We Stingy? Yes,” the Times said the U.N. sponge “was right on target.” This followed up a patriotic editorial a few days earlier titled “America, the Indifferent.”

America’s stinginess is a long-standing leitmotif for liberals – which is getting hard to square with their love for America. When it comes to heaping insults on America, U.S. liberals are the nation’s leading donors.

In 2003, the Center for Global Development – funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, despite the fact that it could have used that money on future tsunami victims – concluded that the U.S. ranked 20th out of 21 nations in helping poorer nations. This came as a surprise, inasmuch as the U.S. gives the highest absolute amounts of foreign aid to the developing world.

But as the study explained, the center “assesses policy effort rather than impact.” As any liberal can tell you, it’s not results that count, it’s intentions! In other words, the CGD discounted some countries’ foreign aid because the CGD decided it was the sort of aid that wouldn’t work – even if, in the end, it did work.

The CGD’s evaluation of “effort” somehow managed to bump U.S. contributions from the No. 1 spot to second-to-last. Sending the military to liberate millions of people from ruthless dictators, for example, did not count as “aid,” whereas sending in peacekeepers afterward did.

The U.S. did not merely write a check to help the oppressed people of Afghanistan and Iraq: The U.S. did most of the fighting and liberating as well as a significant share of the dying. Where’s Michael Moore with that up-to-the-minute body count of U.S. soldiers when you need him?

But in the words of the CGD, military aid doesn’t count because “one country’s security enhancement is another’s destabilizing intervention” – you know, the way U.S. soldiers “destabilized” France in 1944. (My guess is, Presbyterian missionaries in the jungle don’t get as many points as U.N. seminars on condom use either.)

Consequently, in 2003, Norway got 7.1 points for “peacekeeping.” Denmark got 7.4 points. France got 5.2. The country that dispatched the Taliban and Saddam Hussein – and, before that, ensured that the above countries would not be speaking German or Russian – got 1.5 points for “peacekeeping.”

But at least we beat Japan! Except in other studies by liberals – who certainly do love their country – that claim Japan beats the U.S. in foreign aid donations.

Among Al Franken’s proofs that Bill O’Reilly is a “liar” – in addition to his jaw-dropping revelation that O’Reilly’s former TV show won a “Polk” and not a “Periwinkle” Award – Franken attacked O’Reilly for having the audacity to say the U.S. gives more foreign aid than any other country in the world.

Responding to this outrage, Franken writes: “Japan gives more. Not per capita. More.” (And Franken is the world’s largest donor of mentions of his own USO tours.)

I guess there are as many ways to calculate “aid” as there are to calculate “love of country.” According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in 2003, the U.S. gave $37.8 billion out of a total $108.5 billion in foreign aid from the world’s major countries – notable for being more than three times the amount from the next largest donor, the Netherlands, clocking in at $12.2 billion. Americans make up about 5 percent of the world’s population and give about 35 percent of the aid.

So it’s interesting that a great patriot like Al Franken – who goes on USO tours regularly, in case he hasn’t called you at home in the last 10 minutes to remind you – would choose the method of calculating foreign aid most disparaging to his country and call O’Reilly a “liar” for using a different calculus.

At a minimum, in order to discount the largesse of the United States, one must carefully exclude gigantic categories of aid, such as military aid, food aid, trade policies, refugee policies, religious aid, private charities and individual giving.

However “aid” is calculated, it is not that hard to calculate someone’s affection for their country based on their propensity to tell slanderous lies about it.

Let’s review.

The New York Times calls the U.S. “stingy” and runs letters to the editor redoubling the insult, saying: “The word ‘stingy’ doesn’t even come close to accurately describing the administration’s pathetic initial offer of aid. … I am embarrassed for our country.”

Al Franken flies into a rage upon discovering that O’Reilly imagines the U.S. is the most generous nation in the world.

The Washington Post criticizes Bush for not rushing back to Washington in response to the tsunami – amid unfavorable comparisons to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who immediately cut short his vacation and returned to Berlin. (Nothing snaps a German to attention like news of mass death!)

The prestigious Princeton “ethicist” Peter Singer, who endorses sex with animals and killing children with birth defects, says “when it comes to foreign aid, America is the most stingy nation on Earth.”

And has some enterprising reporter asked Sen. Patty Murray what she thinks about the U.S.’s efforts on the tsunami? How about compared to famed philanthropist Osama bin Laden?

In December 2002, Murray was extolling Osama bin Laden’s good works in the Middle East, informing a classroom of students: “He’s been out in these countries for decades building roads, building schools, building infrastructure, building day-care facilities, building health-care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. It made their lives better.” What does Murray say about bin Laden’s charity toward the (mostly Muslim) tsunami victims?

Speaking of world leaders admired by liberals, why isn’t Fidel Castro giving the tsunami victims some of that terrific medical care liberals tell us he has been providing the people of Cuba?

Stipulating that liberals love America – which apparently depends on what the meaning of “love” is – do they love America as much as they love bin Laden and Castro?