MCCAIN BEHIND ON HIS READING…. On Sunday, Sept. 14, the news was downright frightening — Lehman Bros. would file for bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch would be bought on deep discount, and AIG was in very deep trouble. On Monday, Sept. 15, the markets tanked and the crisis gripped Wall Street. On Friday, Sept. 19, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson unveiled a $700 billion bailout proposal.

And on Tuesday, Sept. 22, John McCain couldn’t commit to the proposal, because he hadn’t read it. Seriously.

I’d heard something about this yesterday, but watching the video helps drive the point home. Asked by the NBC affiliate in Cleveland about whether he was prepared to support Paulson’s plan, McCain said, “I have not had a chance to see it in writing. I have to examine it.”

We are, just to clarify, talking about a three-page document. It would have taken McCain a few minutes to read. But despite the seriousness of the situation, McCain hadn’t bothered.

Taking this one step further, on Tuesday, Sept. 22, McCain hadn’t read the Paulson plan, but on Thursday, Sept. 24, McCain announced that he’s dropping everything to work on a bailout plan on the Hill.

I initially thought McCain’s comment may have been in reference to the Dodd plan — which was released Tuesday, and which McCain might have reasonably missed — but the campaign told the Politico that McCain was actually talking about the text of the Paulson plan.

It’s almost as if McCain doesn’t want to be taken seriously.

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.