WHEN TRENT LOTT IS THE VOICE OF REASON…. As much of the Republican Party is prepared to keep moving to the far-right, we talked over the weekend about whether the GOP still has any grown-ups left to temper the demands of extremists. As it happens, there are Republicans willing to argue that the Tea Party crowd and its allies on the Hill are over the top, but they tend to be those who no longer worry about re-election.

Former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), now a D.C. lobbyist, warned that a robust bloc of rabble-rousers spells further Senate dysfunction. “We don’t need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples,” Lott said in an interview. “As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”

But Lott said he’s not expecting a tea-party sweep. “I still have faith in the visceral judgment of the American people,” he said.

This apparently isn’t going over well in right-wing circles.

The Club for Growth waded into the debate over the Tea Party on Monday, knocking former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) for comments he made disparaging anti-establishment candidates. […]

“To paraphrase the former Leader himself, if recent Senates had had more Jim DeMints and fewer Trent Lotts making economic policy, ‘we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years,’” he said.

While this back and forth is of some interest in its own right, the point that I take away from this is that Trent Lott — yes, Trent Lott — has suddenly become a voice of reason in Republican Party politics in 2010. That’s not a sentence I ever expected to type.

I’m reminded of a study Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson did some years back, comparing congressional Republicans of different eras. They found that Republican lawmakers in 2003 were 73% more conservative than the median GOP member of the early ’70s.

Seven years later, Trent Lott is getting slammed by right-wing leaders for being too moderate.

Something to remember the next time the David Broders of the world insist the political process would be much better off if Democrats simply worked in good faith with Republicans to find moderate solutions to national problems. The last three GOP Senate Majority Leaders — Dole, Frist, and Lott — have all been deemed wholly unacceptable to the Republican base, and the base is calling the shots.

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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.