NO ONE COULD HAVE IMAGINED — BARBOUR EDITION…. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has been downplaying the seriousness of the BP oil spill disaster for weeks. That seems to be changing. (via Atrios)

Just weeks ago, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour claimed that oil was not a big threat to the people of the Gulf Coast. Now, with oil hitting his state’s beaches for the first time since the start of the BP spill, the Republican governor says his state isn’t prepared for the spill and needs more help.

Earlier in June, Barbour said, “Once [oil] gets to this stage, it’s not poisonous,” though he said it probably wasn’t a good idea to brush one’s teeth with it.

With black gobs of oil now sullying Mississippi’s white beaches, the governor is taking a more serious tone, asking for more resources to combat the problem he had dismissed.

“We have to be honest with the public. Right now we don’t have enough skimming capacity if everything that’s off our shores continues going north,” Barbour said.

Oh, now officials have to be honest with the public.

In mid May, as the crisis intensified, Barbour argued that the spill may have a “moderate and even minimal impact.” He compared the oil along his shore to a gasoline sheen commonly found around ski boats. By early June, he was comparing the oil to tooth paste, and said the oil on Mississippi’s beaches could barely “fill up a milk jug.” Barbour appeared on Fox News to blame the media for the “misperception” about the disaster, telling potential visitors, “The coast is clear.”

Except the coast is, quite literally, anything but clear.

And now it seems Barbour’s Mississippi isn’t prepared, and it’s suddenly time to start being “honest with the public.” You don’t say.

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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.