THE REAL MCCAIN IN REAL AMERICA…. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), for reasons that defy comprehension, recently bashed his own area, saying, “There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.” He later apologized, but added that the “whole area, years ago, was really redneck.”

John McCain, campaigning in western Pennsylvania, tried to use Murtha’s foolishness as a campaign issue, but struggled badly with his lines.

“You know, I think you may have noticed that Senator Obama’s supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about western Pennsylvania lately,” McCain said. “And you know, I couldn’t agree with them more.” Noticing his confused crowd and realizing he’d screwed up, McCain added, “I couldn’t disagree with you, I couldn’t agree with you more than the fact that western Pennsylvania is the most patriotic, most God-loving, most, most patriotic part of America, and this is a great part of the country.”

Putting aside the fact that McCain still isn’t the most eloquent of speakers, I still don’t understand why on earth McCain would start identifying the “most God-loving” and “most patriotic part of America.” Sarah Palin just got herself into quite a bit of trouble on this, so much so that she publicly apologized yesterday.

So why go down the same road? Why argue that some parts of the country are more patriotic than others?

As Joe Klein explained, “Anyone who talks about the ‘pro-American’ parts of the country is making an anti-American statement…. Anyone who describes one part of the country as ‘most patriotic’ has lost all sense of what patriotism means.”

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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.