EVEN O’REILLY ISN’T BUYING THE ‘SHAKEDOWN’ LINE…. As the right continues to defend BP against that mean ol’ President Obama, who’s apparently fighting too hard to protect the Gulf Coast, the right might want to keep something in mind: if they’re not convincing Bill O’Reilly, they’re probably not convincing many.

The Fox News host spoke to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a leading right-wing voice criticizing the president for securing a $20 billion relief fund for Gulf Coast families and businesses. O’Reilly asked Bachmann if she thinks Obama “shook down” BP. She replied that officials “put pressure” on the oil giant in order to get the $20 billion commitment.

I hardly ever find areas of agreement with Bill O’Reilly, but he didn’t seem to have any problem with the president pressuring BP on the relief fund, and neither do I.

“The only thing we’re disagreeing about here today is that I don’t mind Obama looking at these guys, saying, ‘You better do the right thing or we’re coming after you with everything we have.’ I want him to do that.”

At that point, Bachmann started backtracking a bit, but it was too late. It pains me to type this, but O’Reilly actually summarized the larger dynamic fairly well — the president fought for the Gulf Coast the way the country wants him to. In response, the Republican Party and its far-right base have tried to trash him for it, up to and including issuing a groveling apology to the company responsible for the worst environmental catastrophe in American history.

And if the right hasn’t persuaded O’Reilly, I’m guessing the right hasn’t persuaded much of anyone beyond its unhinged circle.

But what do I know? Go ahead, Republicans, and take this message to voters. Keep telling the public that the GOP wants to defend BP from that mean White House, which is standing up too aggressively to help the region and hold the company accountable. Let’s see how that works out at the ballot box.

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.