MICHAEL STEELE, TIME TRAVELER…. How can RNC Chairman Michael Steele make his bad situation slightly worse? He can start lying about his book.

The embattled, embarrassing party leader appeared on a right-wing radio show yesterday, and addressed some of the controversy surrounding his controversial book. “I wrote this book before I became chairman,” Steele said. “Because of the clock and the calendar, I wound up doing it now.”

It’s not altogether clear why he would make such a claim. Maybe Steele’s feeling defensive because he was working on a book when he should have been doing party business. Perhaps GOP leaders and officials want an explanation as to why they weren’t consulted — or even notified — about the book until it was released, and this is the best the RNC chairman can do.

TPM’s Eric Kleefeld has read the book, and explained late yesterday that the notion that Steeke wrote it before he was elected chairman on Jan. 30 of last year is just preposterous.

The book is full of references to current events in 2009: The stimulus bill, the health care debate, foreign policy, ACORN, the party switch of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Tea Parties and the 9/12 March on Washington, etc.

On page 38, Steele uses a partial quote from Barney Frank, which was spoken on the Ed Schultz show on October 26, 2009. Steele also takes the quote amazingly out of context, as a Nexis search would demonstrate, to give the misleading impression that Frank was openly admitting that Democrats want to control every last area of the economy — but that’s another story.

On page 61, Steele says of Obama: “He champions bipartisanship, but he supports a process where Nancy rams a 2,000-page healthcare bill through the House of Representatives on a Saturday night with just a single Republican vote.” That vote occurred on November 7, 2009.

In his chapter, “Take Back National Security,” Steele discusses the Iranian elections, the Honduran political crisis, and the Fort Hood shooting, among many other hot topics of this past year…. For example, the chapter on previous Republican failures also includes, on pages 27-29, a discussion of the November 2009 elections.

Steele did promise to take Republicans “beyond cutting edge” — perhaps he created a time machine.

This latest flap probably won’t make Steele’s precarious future too much worse — Republicans have an exceedingly high tolerance for blatant lying — but it is another embarrassment for the RNC head to deal with.

In the meantime, the controversy surrounding the book itself continues. A one-time press secretary for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said, “To write a book like that and not consult with the rest of the party leaders is maddening. It’s the most selfish thing I’ve seen a politician do since a certain senator tapped his foot under the bathroom stall. Michael Steele is clearly using the RNC platform to promote Michael Steele.”

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.