PARTY LIKE IT’S 2005…. Reporting from the annual Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday, Evan McMorris-Santoro noted that “everywhere you look, people are saying nice things about George Bush and Dick Cheney. The return of Bush and Cheney to Republican good graces is the strongest evidence yet that conservatives are ready to come out of the shadows in the wake of their monumental defeat in 2008.”

Given the scope of the Bush/Cheney cataclysm, this is rather unexpected. Indeed, given conservative ideology, it’s also incoherent. What’s the message right-wing activists are emphasizing right now? They want less spending, lower deficits, less debt, and smaller government. Bush/Cheney increased spending, carelessly created enormous deficits, added $5 trillion to the national debt in just eight years, and expanded the size and scope of the federal government.

There’s a great deal about right-wing ideology I’ll never fully grasp, but how these folks choose their heroes is one of the bigger mysteries.

Nevertheless, it now appears all is forgiven among far-right activist s when it comes to the failed former administration. Take Mitt Romney’s bizarre speech, for example:

“I am convinced that history will judge President Bush far more kindly — he pulled us from a deepening recession following the attack of 9-11, he overcame teachers unions to test schoolchildren and evaluate schools, he took down the Taliban, waged a war against the jihadists and was not afraid to call it what it is — a war, and he kept us safe.”

It’s hard to imagine a sane person believing such nonsense. We should be thankful for Bush’s economic policies? The Mittster may have trouble keeping up with current events, but the jury is no longer out on whether those policies were effective. We should applaud Bush for “taking down the Taliban”? Um, Mitt? Quick follow-up question: if Bush took down the Taliban, who’s trying to kill American troops in Afghanistan?

Regardless, if the right is prepared to rally behind Bush/Cheney again, I suspect that suits Democrats just fine. One of the campaign themes Dems are anxious to push is urging voters to look forward, and not “turn back the clock” to the Republican fiascoes and debacles of the Bush/Cheney era.

If yesterday was any indication, some conservatives don’t mind bolstering this narrative at all.

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.