CHECKING IN WITH ‘AMERICA SPEAKING OUT’…. Remember that taxpayer-financed gimmick House Republicans launched a month ago? It’s called “America Speaking Out,” and it offers regular folks a chance to go to a website, funded by the public, and submit ideas that will help the GOP put together a policy agenda.

So, how’s that going?

Its stated purpose is to provide people with “a new platform to share their priorities and ideas for a national policy agenda.” … But the project’s usefulness in shaping a Republican agenda is questionable.

Last week, the top five entries in the “Liberty and Freedom” category were: ban handguns, “drop the idea that we’re a ‘Christian’ country,” declare abortion “none of the government’s business,” allow gays to serve openly in the military and legalize marijuana.

Republican leaders mentioned none of these when they began highlighting proposals from the project.

You don’t say.

The Republican spokesperson on the initiative said party officials “are plucking out ideas” they like. “It’s not a ‘top vote gets in’” deal, he said.

That’s not unreasonable, I suppose — no one ever said this was some kind of game-show — but it raises questions anew about why the gimmick exists in the first place. The ideas faring well on the Republicans’ website are ideas Republicans don’t like, so they’re ignoring them. Fine. But why bother with a website at all if the party is only going to accept policies it already approves of?

Why not save the taxpayers some money and scrap the gimmick? GOP leaders could just create an email account and announce, “If anyone has any suggestions on what we should do with government power, let us know.” It would serve the same purpose as “America Speaking Out.”

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.