THEY BELIEVE THEIR OWN PROPAGANDA?…. It’s the subject of perennial debate: when Republican officials repeat obvious falsehoods, are they deliberately trying to deceive, or are they just woefully confused?

While there are compelling cases to be made for each side, once in a while we get strong evidence for the latter. For example, Dick Spotswood, a California-based columnist, visited Washington, D.C., last week, and spent some time on Capitol Hill. He shared this tidbit (via Kos) from his notebook:

Met with Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack from Riverside County’s Coachella Valley. While a social moderate, Sonny Bono’s widow is a solid conservative. Talked to her about Obama’s $780 billion stimulus legislation. She’s outraged that the plan has “$1 billion wasted on a magnetic-levitation train from L.A. to Sin City” — all at Nevada Sen. Harry Reid’s doing.

After expressing my doubt that the Las Vegas line was actually in the bill’s language, Bono Mack directs her staff to “get him the bill, it’s right there, show him.” A few minutes later, a staffer emerges with a copy and quietly says “it’s not in the bill.”

Now, I’m sure that was embarrassing for the congresswoman, but it’s nevertheless an illustrative moment. Rep. Bono Mack probably heard somewhere — cloakroom, Fox News, Limbaugh — that this HSR project is real, and she assumed she’d been told the truth. If Spotswood’s anecdote is accurate, she was certain it was true. Bono Mack wasn’t lying to the columnist; she just didn’t know what she was talking about.

It’s hard to say if Bono Mack is typical of her caucus, but if she is, imagine how much better the political system would function if Republicans simply stopped believing their own misguided propaganda?

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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.