KIRK’S KILLER KERFUFFLE…. The story about Rep. Mark Kirk’s (R-Ill.) trip to China has been percolating this week, and it’s starting to pick up some steam.

If you’re just joining us, Kirk claimed this week to have traveled to China, America’s biggest creditor, where he encouraged Chinese officials not to believe the U.S. government when it comes to budget issues. It was, to my mind, one of the more striking examples in recent memory of an American lawmaker trying to undermine the United States on the international stage.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post noted the controversy (online, not in the print edition); the DCCC is keeping the pressure on; Illinois Democrats are calling on Kirk to retract his remarks; and last night, Rachel Maddow did a very good segment on the controversy.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Note that Rachel’s guest, MarketWatch’s David Weidner, hardly a partisan or an ideologue, described Kirk’s remarks as “colossally stupid” and “dangerous,” adding that the Illinios Republican, preparing to seek statewide office, ran the risk of creating an “international incident.”

Under the circumstances, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to think Kirk’s conduct could prompt some kind of congressional censure. It would be a reasonable response to a lawmaker going overseas to deliberately undermine American interests.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.