THE CULTURE OF ‘LOBBYING AND INFLUENCE PEDDLING’…. As the presidential race has turned towards the economy and away from nonsense, John McCain has struggled to find his footing, and his lead in the polls has slipped. This morning, he tried to get back on track with a series of odd attacks.

“We’ve heard a lot of words from Senator Obama over the course of this campaign. But maybe just this once he could spare us the lectures, and admit to his own poor judgment in contributing to these problems. The crisis on Wall Street started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling, and he was square in the middle of it. […]

“My friends, this is the problem with Washington. People like Senator Obama have been too busy gaming the system and haven’t ever done a thing to actually challenge the system.

“At the beginning of this campaign he promised to raise taxes on your savings and investments. He said he won’t raise taxes for most people but he has voted 94 times in his short Senate career for tax increases and against tax cuts. He said he would only tax the rich, but he voted this year to raise taxes on those making just $42,000. Senator Obama has simply not given Americans good reason to trust him with your tax dollars.”

The line about Obama voting to raise taxes on those making $42,000 a year is a rather transparent lie, which was debunked months ago. The line about the 94 votes is also a rather transparent lie, which was also debunked months ago. (That really is the fundamental difference between McCain and his predecessors — most candidates stop repeating lies after they’ve been exposed as lies.)

But putting all of that aside, I can’t help but find it genuinely hilarious to hear McCain rail against the “Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling,” blame this culture for the Wall Street crisis, and insist that Obama is “square in the middle of it.”

He couldn’t be serious. McCain has 177 lobbyists working for him, either as aides, policy advisers, or fundraisers. Of the 177, 83 are Wall Street lobbyists, representing the very financial industry McCain is now railing against. McCain is now condemning influence peddling, while he had a high-priced corporate lobbyist overseeing his campaign strategy and simultaneously doing lobbying work from aboard McCain’s campaign bus during the GOP primaries.

Who’s in the middle of the “Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling”?

For that matter, it’s downright hysterical to hear McCain say that Obama’s judgment has contributed to the crisis. This would be the same McCain who’s teamed up with Phil Gramm — who McCain has suggested would make a fine Treasury Secretary — and who really does deserve blame for the current mess.

It’s surprising how often the McCain campaign operates under the assumption that voters are idiots.

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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.