THE WISDOM OF A LIBERATED HOUSE REPUBLICAN…. Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) really is conservative. I think I could count all the genuine Republican “moderates” in Congress on one hand, and Inglis wouldn’t even come close to making the cut. He’s a conservative lawmaker from a conservative district with a conservative voting record and strong ratings from conservative groups that give scores to lawmakers.

But now that Inglis is on his way out of Congress, he’s sounding a whole lot more reasonable.

Inglis, of course, was recently humiliated in a GOP primary, losing by a ridiculous 42-point margin in a district he’s represented for more than a decade. What precipitated such a defeat? Inglis expressed a willingness to work with Democrats on energy policy; he urged his constituents not to take Glenn Beck too seriously; and he said his main focus as a lawmaker was to find “solutions” to problems. Last year, Inglis said the Republican Party has a chance “to understand we are all in need of some grace.” The result: GOP voters turned on him.

As his congressional career wraps up, the conservative South Carolinian is finding it much easier to speak his mind. Ben Armbruster flagged Inglis’ appearance on C-SPAN today, where he didn’t hold back.

On Sen. David Vitter’s (R-La.) support for birther lawsuits:

“The president is obviously a citizen of the United States…. So, really we do lose credibility when we spend time talking about such things. Why do we do that? We do it because we want to vilify the other side. We want to make them into the big bad guys.”

On his caucus’ political strategy:

“We have basically decided to stir up a base, and that’s a bad decision for the country.”

On the right’s Community Reinvestment Act talking point:

“What I’m supposed to do as a Republican is just echo back … that yes, CRA was the cause of the financial meltdown in October of 2008. And if I said that to you, I’d be clearly wrong.”

This is the same Inglis who, just last week, trashed conservative “demagoguery” during the health care debate; conceded that some of the right’s hatred of President Obama in the South is driven by racism; and said, “I think we have a lot of leaders that are following those (television and talk radio) personalities and not leading.”

I can’t help but wonder how many other Republican members of Congress would be willing to endorse Inglis’ sentiments, if they knew it wouldn’t end their careers in GOP politics.

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.