To the many reporters who had ridden McCain's bus in 2000, the Straight Talk Express, the candidate was a charming, winning man. He liked to tease and joke, and he could talk for hoursâ€”on the recordâ€”about almost any subject. Reporters who spent time with him sensed that beneath the bluffness there was a sense of graceâ€”that McCain, tortured in prison, possessed an unusual depth of character, that he was capable of profound forgiveness of sin, his own and others'. He occasionally held grudges, but usually he dropped them. He could admit to his faults and often did. He was disarming: "He wore his flaws like a badge of honor and jealously guards his demons," recalled Carl Cameron, a Fox News reporter who had traveled many miles with him. To say that McCain was not like most politicians was an almost laughable understatement. Who else was so open and accessible? McCain, for his part, loved reporters: at the 2004 Republican convention, he had invited 50 A-list journos to a fancy French restaurant in New York and toasted them, only half kidding, as "my base."