Clothing Naked Statues: An Instructional Fable
"Wasn't he the one who ordered clothing be put over statues of women with naked boobies?"
Curious, I did a quick Google, and located the relevant information on Wikipedia. The fact on which the story is based involves not statues of women with naked boobies but one statue of one woman with one naked boobie, a representation of the spirit of justice located in the headquarters of the Department of Justice. It was veiled not with clothing but with curtains that could be used to block the view of the statue during speeches, when it would otherwise have been a feature of the background. The curtains were initially installed not by Ashcroft but by, or at least during the tenure of, his predecessor, although the installation was made permanent under Ashcroft.
Or in other words, most of the content of the story, with its implication of Ashcroftian puritanism, is bogus. Which I take as support for my general rule of thumb: Regard with suspicion any historical anecdote that makes a good enough story to have survived on its literary merit.
And just to balance myths of left and right, I note the recent widely circulated claim that Barack Obama's visit to India is costing $200 million a day. It's a good story, and obviously fits well with the view of Obama as fiscally profligate. But its sole basis seems to be a single news story from India, sourced to an anonymous "top official of the Maharashtra Government privy to the arrangements for the high-profile visit." Which did not prevent it from being widely published as fact in online (and, I presume, print) sources in the U.S.
By now most reputable media that mention it have reported it as bogus—but twenty years from now, if the Internet is still functioning more or less as it now does, the story will be alive and well. For my favorite example of the phenomenon, this time a deliberate prank by one of the 20th century's greatest journalists, google the Bathtub Hoax.