In the few short hours that Falcon Heene took flight, gubernatorial candidate and current U.S. Congressman Gresham Barrett evidently saw an opportunity to win over some of the most coveted voters around — the emotional men and women in the Baby in the Well demo.

It was a risky move. After all, the Wellers are a highly fickle group who will follow any candidate or cause that tugs on their heartstrings — that is until another little white girl goes missing. But at the time, it must have appeared to the Barrett campaign like a checkmate move. The result: three posts were sent from Barrett’s Twitter account fretting over the fate of little Falcon Heene.

The first read: “Praying for the safe return of the boy stuck in the balloon in Colorado. Our thoughts are with his family.”

The second: “Looks like they brought the balloon down safely #saveballoonboy.”

And the third and final tweet: “Reports are now saying that there is no boy inside of the balloon. Our prayers continue for the boy and his family.”

As we are all now aware, Gresham Barrett shouldn’t have been so worried about Falcon’s first flight. Apparently the little boy never left his nest. And as it turns out, the whole Balloon Boy-breaking-news fest was nothing but a big ole hoax — like the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin footage of Bigfoot or the Howard Hughes autobiography or the too-big-to-fail TARP scam. (Hell, even I fell for that one.)

And while the Well Baby demo is surely heartbroken — and Barrett a little peeved (the tweets have since been removed) — there’s no reason to be upset. Hoaxes are good for the soul They keep us on our toes. They brighten our days with mirth and merriment. And nobody appreciates a good fibbing more than the gloriously gullible folks of South Carolina.

For starters, there’s the case of good ole Mark Sanford, who fooled a whole mess of people that he was stretching his legs on the Appalachian Trail when in fact he was parting a pair down in Argentina. I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting on video proof. Larry Flynt, where are you?

Before Sanford, there was Strom, a master trickster if there ever was one. Not only did he help found a fictional political party — the Dixiecrats — but he had everybody in the country convinced that he believed that blacks and whites should never be together — not in the schools or the theaters or the pools — when quite the opposite was true. Strom loved the ladies, regardless of their skin color, kind of like Captain Kirk.

There’s also that group of pranksters who in 2000 called South Carolina voters and informed them that Sen. John McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock. Needless to say, us Sandlappers bought it, and George W. Bush went on to win the South Carolina primary and eventually the presidency.

You can now add Shepard Fairey to the mix. The noted guerrilla artist tried to pull a fast one on Lady Justice, recently admitting that he used a copyrighted AP photograph as the source of his highly vaunted Obama Hope posters and not another photo as he had previously indicated in court documents. Even worse, Fairey admits he deleted evidence which would have proven that the AP photo was the true inspiration for the Hope poster. Andre has a posse, but Fairey better have a crack legal team.

Finally, there’s Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who for years has fooled South Carolinians and the rest of the world into believing that he is … an irresponsible man-child with a need for speed when in fact he is the leader of a cadre of lizard-like aliens who have infiltrated our government and are hellbent on enslaving us all. And I have proof — not that I can show it to you.

I’m still waiting for my agent to call me back and let me know if TLC picked up our pitch for a new reality show about an unrepentant liar who moonlights as a newspaper columnist. Fingers crossed.