Every child of a certain age was raised on the folklore of George Washington owning up to his father that he had whacked his cherry tree with a trusty hatchet, as well as the character development of young “Honest Abe” Lincoln.

Now, though, those folks are sufficiently jaded to understand presidential prevaricators are quite common. In recent decades our presidents have assured us that North Vietnamese motorboats nearly vanquished the 7th Fleet in the Gulf of Tonkin; that our leader was “not a crook” despite masking a break-in at his opponents’ headquarters; that promising “no new taxes” was whimsy; that there was no sex with “that woman”; that Iraq kept weapons of mass destruction; that if you liked your health insurance, you could keep your health insurance.

The current Oval Office occupant is held out as the heavyweight champ of fibbing — and that those in his orbit are no better, possibly worse.

On Dec.18, Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, was supposed to be sentenced after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. Sentencing was delayed after the judge had a meltdown over Flynn’s crime. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, recently got three years in prison for lying to Congress and the Federal Election Commission. Paul Manafort, briefly Trump’s campaign manager, lost his plea deal on other charges for lying to investigators. Manafort’s former partner, Rick Gates, was convicted of making false statements. George Papadopoulos, a lower-level foreign policy adviser to candidate Trump, was sentenced to two weeks in prison for lying to the FBI. Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer and former associate of both Manafort and Gates, was sentenced to a month in prison, also for lying to investigators.

Many clamor, or soon will clamor, for Trump to be tossed out on his keister, if not imprisoned, for a slew of lies — albeit not under oath.

Yet what of those in officialdom who lie with impunity?

Lying surely could get several former Obama administration officials frog-marched in front of the cameras. And that list is far more impressive than this squad of ne’er-do-wells Special Counsel Robert Mueller has sent to the hoosegow. Consider:

• Former FBI Director James Comey stated under oath to a Senate committee that he never leaked investigative information to the media, although later we learned Comey provided documents, some of which were classified, to a friend to share with The New York Times in order to get Mueller appointed.
• Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper lied under oath to Congress when he denied the NSA collected massive amounts of data by monitoring Americans’ electronic communications.
• Former CIA Director John Brennan lied under oath to a Senate committee when he denied that his underlings had spied on Senate staffers.
• Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lied under oath to the Justice Department’s inspector general when he denied leaking sensitive information to the media about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
• A House committee accused former IRS top official Lois Lerner of lying to Congress when she denied under oath the agency was targeting conservative nonprofit groups.
• House Republicans wanted to impeach Lerner’s boss, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, when he told Congress under oath he had turned over all of Lerner’s emails, then lawmakers discovered thousands of them had been simply “lost.”
• House Republicans also believed former Attorney General Loretta Lynch lied under oath when she told Congress she used only her official email address for business, then Justice Department documents released to a watchdog group revealed Lynch’s private account and pseudonym.

Many see a crisis in the fact that Mueller is routinely rerouting the passengers in Trump’s clown car to the big house, even if it is for little more than an overnight stay.

Rather, the real crisis is the existence of a clear double standard of justice — and that the Washington establishment and the elite media are fine with lying, even criminally so, if it serves political ends they agree with.

“Every decent man,” H.L. Mencken once observed, “is ashamed of the government he lives under.” That’s increasingly true, but not all Trump-driven.

Note to Washington: If you want a real revolt in this country, keep demonstrating that our laws and the punishment for violating them are selectively applied in a partisan fashion.
Bill Thompson (bill.thompson@theledger.com) is the editorial page editor of The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida.