Writing in the Los Angeles Times, James Rainey revives a longstanding myth that will frequently crop up again in stories about "gaffes" and supposedly out-of-touch politicians:
In 1992, George H.W. Bush reportedly was surprised to find a price scanner in a grocery store, which "proved" he was out of touch with the common man.
In fact, however, the New York Times report on which this claim is based is groundless. The Times had not been at the event in question but instead based its story on a pool report, which indicated that Bush was impressed by new scanner technology that could weigh groceries and read damaged bar codes. Unfortunately, the Times report (which the newspaper did not retract) fit a popular stereotype about Bush and has thus persisted for years.
Update 8/4 3:23 PM -- Rainey responds by email that he meant to cast doubt on the story:
Indeed, that's why I used the term "reportedly". The point of the example was that its takes little or nothing to caricature some candidates.
If this was his intended meaning, my concern is that the wording was far too subtle -- most people (including me) will not recognize that he was implicitly questioning the validity of the report. I read it as him questioning the conclusion (that it proved Bush was out of touch), not the premise (Bush was surprised).
Mr. McCain’s sense of wonder evoked the episode in the early 1990s when George H. W. Bush became overly impressed upon seeing a price scanner at a supermarket check-out counter. It suggested to some people that the president, who had spent four years in the White House after spending eight years as vice president, was out of touch with the lives of average Americans.