BARBOUR’S PRIORITIES…. Truth be told, I don’t really expect all officials in leadership roles to necessarily curtail unrelated activities during a crisis. I don’t care if President Obama goes golfing during the oil spill; I didn’t care that President Bush cleared brush during two wars; I didn’t even care about BP’s Tony Hayward’s recent yachting excursion.

If those in positions of authority are missing key meetings, or if unrelated activities are interfering with their duties, it’s a problem. If not, folks can blow off steam however they choose.

That said, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who’s done his level best to politicize the hell out of the ongoing disaster in the Gulf, seems surprisingly oblivious to appearances. Late last week, the right-wing governor, whose lobbying business took on oil companies as generous clients, continued to blast federal officials for not doing enough to address the crisis.

But as oil washed ashore in quantity along the Mississippi Coast, Barbour, who had boasted that oil would not reach his shore, wasn’t even in his state. (thanks to V.S. for the heads-up)

Gov. Haley Barbour rushed back to Mississippi from Washington early on Friday upon news that large amounts of oil is threatening the Coast, and said his national political work is not distracting him from guiding the Magnolia State through the BP disaster.

Barbour on Thursday held Washington fund-raisers for the Republican Governors Association, which he heads, and for one of his political action committees, which is raising money for GOP congressional candidates. His fund-raising is receiving some national media attention and fueling speculation that he is already gearing up for a run for president in 2012.

“The most important thing right now is the 2010 elections,” Barbour said. “We can’t wait until 2012 to take back our country.”

I’d feel better about Barbour’s priorities if he thought the most important thing right now is dealing with the oil spill disaster and mitigating its effects on the region.

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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.