THE RECOVERY ACT’S REPUBLICAN FANS…. Ask just about any Republican in Congress for their thoughts on last year’s stimulus package, and you’ll hear largely the same message — the word “failure” would be thrown around quite a bit.

But ask Republican governors, and a different message emerges. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) spoke to CNN’s Candy Crowley yesterday about the state of the economy. McDonnell touted some recent gains in the commonwealth, prompting Crowley to ask if he’d give President Obama any credit for the progress. He replied:

“Well, I think there is plenty of credit to go around. We’ve got some good fundamentals in Virginia. We’re at about 7 percent unemployment. But I think the stimulus probably helped a little bit. Our strong economic development initiatives have helped a lot. It was probably a team effort.”

He added that he believes “in the short run some of the stimulus funding has helped us in some of the areas.”

Obviously, I wouldn’t characterize this as a glowing endorsement, but McDonnell’s line is clearly distinct from the standard Republican talking points, which continue to insist, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, that the Recovery Act not only failed to make a difference, but actually made things worse. Virginia’s governor seems to know better.

But also note how common this sentiment is among Republican governors. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R) has offered some praise for Obama’s recovery efforts, as have Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R) and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, back when he was still a Republican. He seems reluctant to admit it out loud, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) seems to love the stimulus as much as anyone in the country, rivaling the support of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who’s offered unqualified praise for the stimulus.

Maybe Republicans on the Hill should have a chat with Republican governors? They’re offering two very different messages on one of the biggest issues of the day.

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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.