CHUCK THE CANTANKEROUS…. Yesterday in Ohio, President Obama noted how easy it is for Republican critics to attack health care reform, while refusing to step up with a GOP reform plan of their own. “You’ve heard all the lies,” the president told union members. “I’ve got a question for all those folks: What are you going to do? What’s your answer? What’s your solution? And you know what? They don’t have one.”

On CNN this morning, John Roberts asked Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) about the charge that Republicans aren’t offering a credible alternative. The question apparently left Grassley with no choice but to attack CNN and embrace circular, foolish, run-on sentences. (via John Cole)

“…I would be working towards a bipartisan effort. And if we don’t get a bipartisan effort, then, of course, there are so many things in what I’ve been working towards that could easily go into my plan or a Republican plan and then don’t forget that there’s already four Republican plans out there introduced by other members of our caucus. But because we’re the minority party, you at CNN and other places haven’t given our plans much publicity because I suppose we’re in the minority and you want to help the president so much so that I hope that if we — if we don’t have a bipartisan plan, that you’ll start giving some attention to the Republican plans that are out there.”

Remember, this is the guy Democrats have been counting on to negotiate in good faith and strike a bipartisan compromise on health care reform.

If you cut through the meandering nonsense, you’ll note that Grassley refers to “my plan,” without noting that he’s never actually produced a plan. He adds that there are “four Republicans plans out there” with their own plans, without noting that none has been embraced by the GOP leadership, and the proposals themselves are impossible to take seriously.

Let’s be clear about this. Are there random GOP proposals out there with a few co-sponsors? Yes, there are. But when observers note that there’s no Republican alternative to health care reform, that’s entirely legit. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters in July that GOP lawmakers were putting “the final touches on our bill,” which, he said, would hopefully be available “soon.” That was 47 days ago, and no one’s heard a peep about their bill since.

As for the exchange on CNN, John Roberts was apparently defensive after Grassley’s baseless accusation, and “assured” the conservative Iowan that the network will “redouble our efforts to illuminate Republican plans.”

There was no need for Roberts to be apologetic, but if CNN wants to take his pledge seriously, that strikes me as a great idea. By all means, focus a bright light on the competing visions of health care reform between Democrats and Republicans, “illuminating” GOP proposals to address their idea that Americans are already over-insured, and protect insurance companies at all costs.

CNN will “redouble” its efforts to “illuminate Republican plans”? I can hardly wait.

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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.