Fred Thompson wastes no time in saying something stunningly stupid.

I wasn’t expecting much from newly announced GOP Presidential contender Fred Thompson given his very conservative statements before he ever entered the race, but I assumed he’d at least get a week in before saying something stupid. I was wrong.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Freshly minted GOP White House hopeful Fred Thompson puzzled Iowans yesterday by insisting an Al Qaeda smoking ban was one reason freedom-loving Iraqis bolted to the U.S. side.

“They said, ‘You gotta quit smoking,’” Thompson explained to a questioner asking about progress in Iraq during a town hall-style meeting.

Thompson said the smoking ban and terror tactics Al Qaeda used to oppress women and intimidate local leaders pushed tribes in western Anbar Province to support U.S. troops.

But Thompson’s tale of a smokers’ revolt baffled some in the audience of about 150 who came to decide whether the former Tennessee senator is ready for prime time.

“I don’t know what that was about,” said Jim Moran, 72, who had driven from nearby McCook Lake, S.D.

The Iraqis in Anbar Province switched sides because of a smoking ban? Um, OK, Fred. If you say so. Personally, I think it probably had more to do with those terror tactics you mentioned, but if you wanna say it was a smoking ban then, well, you’re entitled to look like a total idiot if you really want to.

Open Topic: Smoking

So I was lurking around earlier and noticed LuckyJohn19’s announcement of going four months smoke-free. I too have officially been off cigarettes since early February. I didn’t think I could ever do it, but with the help of friends, family, and Nicorette I’ve managed to do so. Not only that, but just a few weeks ago I talked my eighteen-year-old brother into giving up the cancer sticks (which is no easy task for a college freshman).

I tried quitting many times in the twelve years that I smoked, yet I never really believed that I would ever be permanently off cigarettes. Now that I have truly quit, there’s no going back. I have to avoid being in the presence of certain friends during breaks because I know they’re going to light up, and I can’t face that temptation. Above all else I’ve realized just how much of a subculture exists among smokers. People who may otherwise be as different as night and day are united in their addictions to nicotine. While I was definitely aware of this in my heavy smoking days, the impact of this realization had never before been so blunt. Everywhere I go I see people puffing away, and it fully dawns on me that I’m no longer a part of their aggregate.

Here at SEB I recently made a crack about accepting a cigarette from Nowiser. This was a mistake, and a painful one at that. Even though the quip was made entirely in jest, it made me think about how difficult it can be to escape the lure of smoking.

I’m simply curious about the gang here: how many of you smoke or have quit/tried to?