DEPT. OF POTS AND KETTLES…. There’s Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) rhetoric on Fox News:

“Now is not the time to be earmarking a lot of this money. People don’t mind paying taxes and they understand the government needs to be run, but they hate to see their money wasted. So that’s a second reason for opposing [the bill]…. I suspect there will be some that vote for it. Some like these earmarks, for one thing.”

Then there’s Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) reality:

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) requested $118 million in earmarks in fiscal year 2008.

Asked last weekend about the discrepancy, Kyl told Fox News, “I would suggest that they’re not earmarks under the definition, because we have a specific definition.”

Look, I don’t really care about Kyl’s earmarks. Are they necessarily wasteful? I doubt it. Can he defend each of the various expenditures? He probably could.

But the point is this entire debate has become a little farcical. “Earmarks” have become synonymous with “waste,” and that doesn’t make any sense. There’s wasteful spending in the regular ol’ budget that isn’t earmarked, and there are earmarked funds that are completely appropriate.

Kyl, like a few too many of his GOP colleagues, are playing a cheap game — use the “e” word over and over again, with the goal of generating opposition to spending measures. There’s no real analysis; it’s just overly-simplified politics. Earmark = bad. Spending bill = earmarks. Spending = bad.

I liked it better when being a grown-up was a prerequisite to joining the Senate Republican leadership.

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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.