GRASSLEY HEARTS BECK…. ThinkProgress traveled to a town-hall event in Iowa yesterday, getting an up-close look at Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and the leading Republican negotiator on health care reform.

One of the senator’s constituents noticed that Grassley was carrying a personal copy of Glenn Beck’s book, “Common Sense.” When the constituent urged the conservative Republican lawmaker to share it with members of Congress, Grassley said:

“Well the reason I brought it is you’re supposed to pass it on to other people when you’re not reading it.”

He later told ThinkProgress that the book, written by Fox News’ self-described “rodeo clown,” is “something you gotta read a couple times.”

Contrast this with what we saw last week, at an event hosted by Rep. Bob Inglis, a very conservative Republican in South Carolina. When the crowd turned ugly, Inglis suggested it’d be a good idea to “turn the TV off” and stop listening to Beck. “Turn that television off when he comes on,” the congressman said. “Let me tell you why. You want to know why? He’s trading on fear.”

Inglis later told a local blogger, “The America that Glenn Beck seems to see is a place where we all should be fearful, thinking that our best days are behind us. It sure does sell soap, but it sure does a disservice to America.”

A week later, Chuck Grassley — an alleged moderate and the man principally responsible for finding a “bipartisan” solution for health care reform — is promoting Beck’s lunacy.

I can only assume that Grassley doesn’t want to be part of reform negotiations anymore, and is working on getting himself kicked out of the talks. If he keeps moving further to the right, and Dems eventually decide to cut their losses with this guy, Grassley gets to have it both ways — he’ll tell moderates, “I invested months of time and energy in bipartisan reform negotiations,” and he’ll tell the right, “I stuck up for conservative principles and Democrats refused to listen.”

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.