A PURGEGATE PRIMER….Shorter Michael Kinsley: For the Bush administration, lying is practically official policy. The fact that they’re lying about Purgegate (“Volleys of lies come in wave after wave, like the trench soldiers of World War One. They get mowed down and the administration just sends in more.”) doesn’t mean they’re covering anything up. It’s just a tic.

If this sounds curiously familiar, that’s because it is. The last time Kinsley was poo-pooing Bush mendacity was in his belated column about the Downing Street memos, where he made an almost identical argument: “fixing” intelligence is a standard feature of the Bush administration, so why get upset over further evidence about it? It’s just one of those things.

This is beyond maddening, as if Kinsley is deliberately trying to misunderstand what’s going on here. Look: the only serious argument that Purgegate is a scandal is related to the reason for the Pearl Harbor Day massacre. If seven U.S. Attorneys were fired that day for poor performance, that would be fine. If they were fired for insufficient commitment to Bush administration policies, that would be fine too. But there’s considerable reason to believe that at least some of them were fired because either (a) they were too aggressive about investigating Republican corruption or (b) they weren’t aggressive enough about investigating Democrats.

That’s it. That’s the argument. David Iglesias: Didn’t bring indictments against some local Democrats prior to the 2006 election. John McKay: Failed to invent voter fraud cases that might have prevented a Democrat from winning the 2004 governor’s race in Washington. Carol Lam: Doing too good a job prosecuting trainloads of Republicans in the wake of the Duke Cunningham scandal. Daniel Bogden and Paul Charlton: In the midst of investigations targeting current or former Republican members of Congress when they were fired. And this all comes against a background that suggests the Bush Justice Department has initiated fantastically more investigations of Democrats than Republicans over the past five years.

All of this, combined with the “volleys of lies” coming at us machine gun style from one Bush administration figure after another, strikes me as a pretty good reason to be deeply suspicious. Has Kinsley learned nothing about these guys since 2001?