QUOTE OF THE DAY…. One of the more remarkable qualities of high-profile Republican rhetoric is the capacity for delusion. A variety of prominent GOP officials have no real qualms about simply making things up out of whole cloth, and expecting their audiences to believe them.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), currently planning a presidential campaign after losing re-election by 19 points, shared a real doozy on Fox News this week. He insisted, with a straight face, that “under the Bush administration … poverty among African Americans and among single unmarried women, poverty was at the lowest rate ever in the history of this country. So Obama’s policies are not working, Bush polices worked! For long a time as a matter of fact.”

As Alex Seitz-Wald explained, that’s not even close to being true.

In fact, while the Bush years were disastrous for the economy as a whole, they were particularly devastating for the poorest Americans. Under Bush, the number of Americans living in poverty jumped an astonishing 26.1 percent. When President Clinton left office in 2000, there were about 31.6 million Americans living in poverty, according to the Census Bureau. When Bush left office in 2008, that number had jumped to 39.8 million — the largest number in absolute terms since 1960.

Was the poverty rate among African Americans “the lowest rate ever in the history of this country” during the Bush/Cheney years? Actually, no, that’s insane. By 2008, the poverty rate among African Americans had soared to 24.7%. Santorum’s claim about poverty among unmarried women is equally delusional — during the Bush years, the rate had soared from 26% to 30%.

I guess it’s not too surprising — this year, made-up GOP claims have become the norm. In Illinois, Mark Kirk lied about practically every aspect of his life. In Delaware, Christine O’Donnell manufactured an educational background that doesn’t exist. In Nevada, Sharron Angle has a habit of saying things out loud, and then pretending she didn’t.

But with Santorum, the oddity is his sincere beliefs that some of Bush’s most painful failures were actually wild successes. I can’t help but wonder what the weather is like in Santorum’s reality.

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.