THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 2009 AND 2001…. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) appeared on Fox News this morning to not only deliver a stern rebuke to the president, but to rewrite recent history a little.

“There’s one thing though that Biden and President Obama have got to get under control. And that is quit blaming George Bush. George Bush inherited an economy when he became president back in 2001 that was already beginning to show real signs of the stress from the breaking of the technology bubble. George Bush didn’t go out whining and complaining every day, he stood up like the president of the United States and he worked on trying to get it fixed.

“Then 2001, 9/11 came, things really went tough, but he worked on the economy and it was in much better shape for most of his presidency. Then the recession started, wasn’t totally his fault for sure and all you hear from Joe Biden and President Obama is how, how terrible it was, what they inherited, how it wasn’t their fault. No, look, you own it now. You got elected, you wanted the job. Stand up and take it and get this thing rolling. But quit spending money.”

There’s quite a few things wrong with this, though none of the flaws in the argument were brought up by the wacky hosts of “Fox & Friends.”

For one thing, the 2001 recession began two months after George W. Bush took office, and he and his team proceeded to spend the next several years “whining and complaining” about the recession they “inherited” from Clinton/Gore. Just because Mike Huckabee can’t remember it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Besides, what did Bush have to “whine and complain” about, exactly? Clinton left him a strong, vibrant country, peace and prosperity, and the healthiest budget outlook Americans had ever seen.

But just as importantly, whether Fox News’ personalities find it annoying or not, President Obama really did inherit a mess unlike anything an incoming president has seen in generations, and most of the problems really are Bush’s fault. The moment Obama walked in the door, he had to deal with an economic crisis, an abysmal job market, a budget mess, a failing financial industry, a collapsing U.S. auto industry, global warming, an absurd health care system, an equally absurd national energy framework, two costly wars, a pessimistic electorate, and a nation that had lost much of its global prestige.

Now, if all the White House did was talk about the crises, and made no effort to address them, Huckabee might have a point. But that’s clearly not the case — the president and his team are trying to put the fires out, while occasionally making an effort to remind Americans that they didn’t start the fires in the first place.

By what rationale is the president not supposed to talk about where we’ve been, while addressing where we’re going? Obama seems to think he should be judged on his administration’s ability to make improvements on the baseline they inherited. It’s hardly an unreasonable pitch.

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.