MCCAIN’S COMMERCE COMMITTEE CONFUSION…. John McCain has acknowledged, more than once, that he doesn’t understand the economy. More recently, though, as Americans began ranking the economy as the top election-year issue, McCain has been forced to backpedal, insisting that he really is some kind of economic expert.

To bolster his case, McCain has begun pointing to his work on the Senate Commerce Committee, which he used to chair (and where, apparently, he created the BlackBerry). McCain told CNBC yesterday, “I understand the economy. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee that oversights [sic] every part of our economy.”

That’s not even close to being true. Kleiman posted a list of the Commerce Committee’s jurisdictional issues, which include the Coast Guard, highway safety, canals, atmospheric activities, regulation of interstate common carriers, sports, and standards and measurement. The committee helps oversee consumer products and services — but not credit, financial services, or housing, the very areas that just happen to be driving the current crisis.

Yglesias added, “[I]t’s the Banking Committee that oversees the financial institutions we’re currently worried about. And then of course the Finance Committee has authority over important aspects of the economy, including the crucial health care sector and there’s an Energy and Natural Resources Committee that also oversees substantial economic functions. It’s pretty unworthy of a veteran senator to be engaged in this kind of silly resume puffing.”

It also leads to a couple of related questions. First, does McCain not know what his own committee does, or was he just straying badly from the truth again?

And second, if McCain really did lead a committee that “oversights [sic] every part of our economy,” then wouldn’t he necessarily bear some of the blame for the current mess? Indeed, shouldn’t McCain be going out of his way to downplay the significance of the Commerce Committee?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.