PALIN TO LIMBAUGH: ‘I’VE GOT NOTHING TO LOSE’…. When extremist politicians with no decency feel like they have “nothing to lose,” it’s a scary scenario.

In an interview with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin explained her reasoning in going on the attack against Barack Obama. Asked why she was more “forceful” than her running mate, she said: “Rush, I’ve got nothing to lose in this and I think America’s got everything to gain by understanding the differences, the contrasts here between Obama and McCain.”

She added:

“Speaking of some of those associations…let’s talk quickly about ACORN and the unconscionable situation that we are facing right now with voter fraud, given the ties between Obama and ACORN and the money his campaign has sent them…Obama has a responsibility to reign in ACORN and prove that he is willing to fight voter fraud….for shame if the mainstream media were to cover this one up.”

First, Sarah Palin doesn’t know what voter fraud is. It’s seems odd that someone could seek national office without knowing what voter fraud is, but she doesn’t. (It seems even stranger than someone would talk to a national audience about voter fraud without knowing what it is, but that’s Palin for you.)

Second, have you noticed that Palin has made the transition from Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric to Hugh Hewitt and Rush Limbaugh? No one even asks anymore whether Palin may someday host a press conference or appear on one of the Sunday morning shows. It’s clear the McCain campaign just doesn’t trust her to talk to anyone but sycophantic conservatives. It’s kind of sad, really.

And third, in a way, Palin is right about not having anything to lose. If McCain comes up short in three weeks, she returns to her day job in Alaska, and she remains the darling of unhinged right-wing activists everywhere. She can say literally anything between now and Election Day, and it would likely have no bearing on her future, win or lose. The incentive for restraint simply doesn’t exist.

It’s tempting to think the governor does have something to lose — her credibility, her dignity, her sense of decency, her honor — but we are talking about Sarah Palin. After watching her conduct over the course of this campaign, serious observers know she lost these qualities a while ago.

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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.