THE NRA MUST BE DESPERATE…. Estimates vary, but the National Rifle Association reportedly spent about $15 million in 2008 on attacks against Barack Obama. The group is no doubt frustrated, not only with the election’s outcome, but with its inability to have a serious impact on the campaign.

What’s more embarrassing for the NRA is that it’s still doing robocalls, seven weeks after Election Day. The Hartford Courant‘s Colin McEnroe received Wayne LaPierre’s latest message yesterday.

So my phone rings today; and after that 1.5-second delay that tells you it’s not a beloved friend, a guy comes on the line and says his name is Chris White from the NRA. Do I want to listen to a message from Wayne LaPierre about “Obama’s scheme to ban guns?” You bet I do.

So Chris presses play and suddenly Wayne’s voice is blasting in my ear at three times the decibel level of the human being who spoke first.

Wayne says that Obama’s assurances that he will respect gun rights are “an outright lie.”

Obama has been “stacking his administration with the most notorious gun-banners in America.”

Wayne says he wants to “send a message loud and clear that the fight for our freedom is not coming. It is here and now.”

When Wayne’s automated message ended, a person comes back onto the line to explain that Obama has appointed “a cabinet full of gun haters.” When pressed to name one, the NRA representative pointed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who, of course, is not part of the Obama cabinet. Pressed further for an actual cabinet gun-hater, the NRA rep offers nothing but silence.

The point of the cheap smears, of course, is to raise some cash for the organization. Colin McEnroe wasn’t exactly persuaded by the fundraising pitch, but it got me thinking — just how much financial trouble do you suppose the NRA is in right now?

It invested $15 million to go after Obama, and an additional $25 million to help Republicans win congressional seats. The group’s failures notwithstanding, that’s a lot of money to spend in the midst of trying economic times.

Sure, the NRA also has an endowment, but if it’s anything like all of the other institutional endowments right now, it’s lost a whole lot of its value.

How much financial trouble, do you suppose, the NRA is experiencing right now?

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.