KEEPING THE DANCE GOING…. Digby had a nice summary of the annoying, ongoing “controversy” surrounding Speaker Pelosi: “Uhm, everyone recognizes that this Pelosi flap is a manufactured hissy fit, right? The point is to make the whole discussion of torture politically radioactive for Democrats in the same way that questioning the surge became radioactive after Betrayus. It’s a classic political kabuki designed to twist the Democrats into pretzels.”

That’s clearly true, and just as importantly, Republicans have figured out how to keep the hysteria going, with new attacks every day, which immediately get amplified by reporters enjoying the “story” about Pelosi questioning the veracity of the CIA.

Today, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), for example, said the Speaker has committed “a terrible slander against the leading intelligence service in the U.S at a time when we’re fighting two wars,” which in turn “makes it impossible for her to function.” Newt Gingrich said Pelosi has shown “contempt for the men and women who protect our nation,” and added that the Speaker’s comments have increased the risk of a terrorist attack against the United States. (He seemed to be serious.)

Michael Gerson is on message, as is Rudy Giuliani. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) said today that Pelosi has launched a “massive attack on our intelligence community,” and added that it’s “outrageous” for the Speaker to “call our terror-fighters liars.”

Now, I can’t read their minds, obviously, but I suspect most of these hacks realize what they’re saying is ridiculous, but have received instructions from the party and are doing their duty to attack the Speaker, whether it makes sense or not.

One of these days, though, it might occur to them, and the reporters keeping the story alive, that questions from lawmakers about the intelligence agencies’ honesty aren’t terribly unusual — and plenty of Republicans have made remarks similar to Pelosi.

Steve M., for example, notes that in 2003, David Frum and Richard Perle wrote a book that argued:

… because the CIA, like all intelligence organizations, deals in lies, it all too easily crosses the line between lying abroad to protect the nation and lying at home to protect itself.

But this extends to the Hill, too. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the leading Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has not only accused the CIA of “lying,” he’s even initiated a congressional investigation into allegations that the CIA misled Congress about a 2001 incident in Peru.

Zachary Roth brought it all together this afternoon.

We really shouldn’t have to do this. As we’ve said before, the idea that it’s some kind of outlandish and unconscionable slur to point out that the CIA — the CIA, for chrissakes! — can sometimes be economical with the truth is absurd on its face. But the Republican attacks on Nancy Pelosi for daring to make that claim just keep coming, so it looks like we’re going to have to point this out:

Shocking as it sounds, the GOP hasn’t always been so sensitive about harsh criticism of the CIA — including leveling the charge that the CIA is being deliberately deceptive — when it’s served the party’s political interest.

Based on the palaver we’ve been hearing from Republicans lately, leaders of their own party have spent recent years “slandering” intelligence officials, showing “contempt” for the CIA, “attacking” the intelligence community, and increasing the risk of a domestic terrorist attack.

I know the GOP has perfected the art of manufactured hissy fits, but this one is unusually foolish.

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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.