MCCONNELL EITHER DOESN’T KNOW OR DOESN’T CARE…. Just two weeks ago on “Meet the Press,” David Gregory separately asked House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) how they intended to pay for their top priority: extending Bush-era tax policies for millionaires and billionaires. Both refused to answer, despite persistent follow-up questions.

Yesterday was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) turn. Gregory asked a question McConnell had to know was coming: “You and other Republicans would like to see the Bush-era tax cuts extended. The president, of course, wants to repeal them except for those on the wealthiest Americans; in other words, those taxes would go up. What are you prepared to do to pay for an extension of tax cuts for everybody?” McConnell dodged, saying the Democratic plan would hurt small businesses, which is demonstrably false.

So, Gregory tried again. McConnell replied, “Well, what, what, what, what are you talking about paid for? This is existing tax policy. It’s been in place for 10 years.”

Back and forth they went. The fifth time, Gregory noted that extending all of the Bush-era tax policies would add over $3 trillion to the debt over the next decade. “Do you have a plan to pay for that extension?” he asked. McConnell wouldn’t budge: “You’re talking about current tax policy. Why did all it of a sudden become something that may ‘paid for’?”

I go back and forth on whether McConnell is strikingly ignorant about the basics of public policy, or a shrewd political hack who knows the truth, but hopes to deceive voters. There’s evidence to support the former, but overall, I’d say the jury’s still out.

But whether he’s lying or foolish, McConnell’s remarks yesterday on tax policy reflect the perspective of someone who has no idea what he’s talking about. His remarks were just gibberish. As he sees it, Bush’s tax policies, which Republicans set to expire at the end of the year, can be extended indefinitely, and it wouldn’t add a penny to the debt, because those tax policies currently exist.

No sensible person could possibly believe such transparent nonsense. The facts are stubborn: “Extending them for the next 10 years would add about $3.8 trillion to a growing national debt that is already the largest since World War II. About $700 billion of that reflects the projected costs of tax cuts for those in the top 2 percent of income-earners.”

That Mitch McConnell, a man who may be Senate Majority Leader next year, at least pretends not to understand this, does not speak well of Republican intellectual integrity at a critical time.

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.