PERRY KEEPS PUSHING THE SECESSION LINE…. When dealing with confused and enraged mob, responsible leaders try to lower the temperature and encourage cooler heads to prevail. Irresponsible leaders act like Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).

On Tuesday, Perry denounced the U.S. government as “oppressive,” arguing at a press conference, “We think it’s time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas.” He didn’t say what it is he finds so offensive, but it seems to have something to do with the federal effort to help unemployed Texans. (Obama is obviously history’s greatest monster.)

At a right-wing “Tea Party” yesterday, Perry pushed the envelope just a little more.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up an anti-tax “tea party” Wednesday with his stance against the federal government and for states’ rights as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, “Secede!”

An animated Perry told the crowd at Austin City Hall — one of three tea parties he was attending across the state — that officials in Washington have abandoned the country’s founding principles of limited government…. Perry called his supporters patriots. Later, answering news reporters’ questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that.

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

In other words, according to the elected chief executive of one of the nation’s largest states, secession is on the table.

Republican primaries can make conservatives do some awfully strange things.

As for the “substance” of all of this, it seems a little silly to seriously explore the merits of secession in the 21st century, but Michael Tomasky suggests Americans should just let Texas go if it wants out of the United States, and Matt Yglesias seems to be warming to the idea.

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.