‘FEAR-GATE’ FLAP PROVES UNSPINNABLE…. I have to admit, I didn’t really expect to see so many Republican leaders respond with contrition to the flap surrounding the so-called “fear-gate” controversy.

Last week, a Republican National Committee fundraising presentation was leaked, and immediately became a headache for the party. The RNC’s message — filled with donor insults, offensive caricatures, and an admission that the party will rely on little more than “fear” — has already put many Republican officials on the defensive. It’s even driving donors away.

The subject came up during the Sunday shows, and GOP lawmakers continued to distance themselves from the controversial party materials.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted the Republican National Committee on Sunday for producing a fundraising presentation that mocked the President and congressional leadership as cartoon villains and socialists.

Asked about the document — which outlines how “ego-driven” wealthy donors could be persuaded to take out their checkbooks — the Kentucky Republican called it “certainly not helpful” to the Republican cause.

“I can’t imagine why anybody would have thought that was helpful,” McConnell added. “Typically the way parties raise money is because people believe in the causes they advocate. I think the way we raise money from donors across America is to stand for things that are important for the country.”

McConnell dodged a question about whether anyone at the RNC should lose their jobs over this, but he added, “I don’t like it and I don’t know anybody else who does.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) added, “There is no excuse for that type of stuff.” When Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) offered some tepid praise for the underlying message of the RNC materials, his office soon after issued a statement describing the presentation as “juvenile and insulting.”

What I find most interesting about this is the fact that Republicans actually seem rather embarrassed. That’s an exceedingly rare sight. Generally, Republicans — at the RNC, in Congress, or both — will say or do something completely indefensible, and when Dems try to raise a fuss, the party shrugs its shoulders and says, “So?” No matter what the circumstances, Republicans generally reject the very idea of remorse.

But this “fear-gate” controversy is apparently proving to be unspinnable, perhaps because it includes insulting comments about GOP donors.

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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.