JUDD GREGG WAS RIGHT THE FIRST TIME…. I’ve been emphasizing this since September, but given its new and timely relevance, I’m glad to see a reminder from Brian Beutler.

Republicans are doing everything they can to convince the media and the public that using the budget reconciliation process to finish health care amounts to the “nuclear option” — a term that came to fame when Republicans tried to change the Senate rules regarding the minority’s right to obstruct judicial nominations.

But the “nuclear option” was a rule change. Reconciliation is part of the Senate rules. And there’s perhaps no better person to make that point than Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) — the Senate Republicans’ top budget guy — who vociferously defended the use of reconciliation when his party tried to use it in 2005 to allow drilling in Alaska.

In March 2005, Senate Republicans really wanted to let oil companies drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Democrats not only opposed the bill, they told the GOP majority that it would need 60 votes to pass the drilling proposal. Gregg said the ANWR issue should be considered under reconciliation.

“The point, of course, is this: If you have 51 votes for your position, you win,” Gregg told his Senate colleagues on the floor.

He added, “Reconciliation is a rule of the Senate (that) has been used before for purposes exactly like this on numerous occasions… Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don’t think so.” Responding to the argument that it’s wrong to use reconciliation on a domestic oil drilling measure, Gregg concluded, “We are using the rules of the Senate as they are set up to be used, and that happens to be the rule of the Senate.”

Judd Gregg now believes using the rule of the Senate is an outrageous abuse. How quickly they forget.

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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.