THEY ALWAYS COME AROUND…. In conservative circles, Paul Weyrich is a pretty major player, and has been for decades. Weyrich helped create the Heritage Foundation, helped found the Moral Majority, has been helping create and finance right-wing operations for years, and continues to contribute to conservative media outlets like Newsmax and the Washington Times.

Like most religious right leaders, Weyrich has not, however, been a fan of John McCain. “I will not vote for him,” Weyrich said earlier this year. “I can’t.”

For that matter, McCain has always hated Weyrich right back. In one of his books, McCain wrote, “Weyrich possesses the attributes of a Dickensian villain. Corpulent and dyspeptic, his mouth set in a perpetual sneer as if life in general were an unpleasant experience, he is the embodiment of the caricature often used to unfairly malign all religious conservatives.” McCain concluded that Weyrich is “a pompous, self-serving son of a bitch.”

And yet, guess who has come around to supporting McCain’s presidential campaign? That’s right, Weyrich is now backing the man he swore he could never support.

This is what always seems to happen. James Dobson said earlier this year, in a written statement, “Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances.” Recently, Dobson reversed course and endorsed McCain. Plenty of far-right activists and leaders have done the same thing, especially in the religious right movement McCain used to denounce.

I suppose this shouldn’t come as too big a surprise, but conservatives should pause to appreciate the fact they’ve become a very cheap date. For leaders like Weyrich and Dobson, they opposed McCain vehemently, but ultimately threw their support to him … in exchange for practically nothing. McCain didn’t have to work to earn their backing, he just had to become the Republican nominee.

Future Republican candidates take note: the religious right looks an awful lot like a paper tiger.

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.