TAKING MCCARTHYISM LITERALLY…. In October, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) called for an investigation to see which members of Congress might, by her standards, be “anti-America.” Her on-air rant, shared with a national television audience, was one of the more stunning examples of modern-day McCarthyism in recent history.

This week, one of her colleagues managed to take this nonsense just a little further.

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) puts the number of socialists in the House at 17.

“Some of the men and women I work with in Congress are socialists,” Bachus told local government leaders on Thursday, according to the Birmingham News.

Bachus gave the specific number of House socialists when pressed later by a reporter.

He didn’t identify these 17 socialists in the House, but we can probably assume he has a list “in his hand.”

Now, this isn’t 1950, the Cold War is long over, and McCarthy-like red scares probably won’t connect if only half the country is certain the capitalism is a superior economic system to socialism.

That said, when a Republican lawmaker makes it this easy, there’s something rotten in the GOP.

The State Department House is infested with communists socialists. I have here in my hand a list of 205 17 — a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State me as being members of the Communist Socialist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department Congress.

What’s painful to realize is that in the 1950s, many Republican lawmakers were outraged by McCarthy’s tactics, and publicly denounced him, en route to an official censure. Is there enough decency left in the Republican delegations of the 21st century to have GOP officials stand up and say, “Enough”?

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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.