THEY ASKED FOR IT…. For some reason, Republicans decided this week that what they really wanted to talk about was ethics. As the GOP sees it, notwithstanding their own party’s humiliating culture of corruption, this is an issue that might prove embarrassing for Democrats given recent incidents involving David Paterson, Eric Massa, and Charlie Rangel.

Today, the Democratic National Committee decided to launch its own ad, raising the stakes a bit.

For those of you who can’t watch clips from your work computers, the voice-over tells viewers, “Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell — a caucus racked by scandal. David Vitter — prostitution, violating his vows to his family and the public. John Ensign — an FBI investigation, allegations of hush money and jobs for silence, all to cover up his affair.

“Mitch McConnell and Michael Steele — they’ve done nothing to hold them accountable. After years of scandal, tell Republicans it’s time to clean up their act.”

Towards the very end, the on-screen visual includes pictures of Tom DeLay — specifically, his mug-shot after his arrest — and Jack Abramoff.

The spot is reportedly poised to begin airing on cable in D.C., where pundits and politicos are most likely to see it.

To reiterate a point from the other day, there are obviously some Dems who’ve run into trouble of late. But if Republicans think they can claim the high ground on ethics, and that this has the potential to be a winning issue for them, they should expect to see more ads like this one.

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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.