IN DEFENSE OF ‘HONEYBEE INSURANCE’…. Congressional Republicans, desperate to find provisions in the economic stimulus package that can be exploited to kill the bill, have taken an interest in “honeybee insurance,” a favorite of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

The LA TimesMichael Hiltzik explains today that GOP lawmakers just aren’t “doing their homework.”

It turns out that the Senate minority leader took his cue from Neil Cavuto of Fox News, who has been carrying on about the topic for more than a week. Their campaign was joined Tuesday by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who stood on the floor of the chamber challenging “any member to come and explain what that provision was.”

I’m no senator, but I’m pleased to inform Vitter that it is, in fact, a disaster insurance program for all livestock producers. Beekeepers obviously would be minor beneficiaries next to, say, cattle ranchers, so it’s a tad bit dishonest to label the whole program “honeybee insurance.”

The provision simply continues a program enacted by Congress last year, overriding a veto by President Bush. In other words, the Senate voted on it twice in 2008 — once to enact and once to override. Connoisseurs of political comedy will see the punch line coming: McConnell and Vitter voted yea both times.

So it turns out that McConnell isn’t really against honeybees. He’s only using them to pretend that he’s got a principled objection to a stimulus plan aimed at pulling the country out of the most severe recession in decades.

The honeybees, and the rest of us, are merely collateral damage.

I like to think there will come a day when Republican lawmakers will appreciate the gravity of their responsibilities and take public policy seriously. I just have no idea when that day will arrive.

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.