RACE-BAITING FOR THE SAKE OF RACE-BAITING…. I’m not inclined to embed it because it’s just too ugly and offensive to sully the site, but scandal-plagued Sen. David Vitter’s (R) new attack ad in Louisiana pushes the race-baiting envelope in ways decent people everywhere should find troubling.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has what might be the most amazing ad that a Republican has ever put out on illegal immigration — featuring a gang of shady Mexicans sneaking through a fence, being greeted by a welcome sign in both English and Spanish, an oversized novelty check giving them “a lot of taxpayer money,” and a limousine to ride them off in style. And of course, all of it is blamed on Vitter’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Charlie Melancon.

“Charlie Melancon. Thanks to him we might as well put out a welcome sign for illegal aliens,” the announcer says. “Melancon voted to make it easier for illegals to get taxpayer funded benefits, and actual welfare checks. Melancon even voted against allowing police to arrest illegals. Thanks to Charlie Melancon, it’s no wonder illegals keep coming, and coming…”

It does seem odd that a demographic known for doing menial labor at below the legal minimum wage would get a ride in a limo. Also, it should be noted that among the crowds of Americans being taken advantage of by the illegal immigrants in the ad — taxpayers, police, that old-fashioned Louisiana marching band — all but one of them are white.

Adam Serwer had an insightful piece yesterday on Vitter’s race-baiting tactics, noting not just their offensive qualities, but the oddity of the message — Louisiana doesn’t border Mexico, and has “one of the lowest populations of undocumented workers in the country.”

In other words, Vitter is race-baiting just for the sake of race-baiting. If he can get white voters to hate Latinos enough, maybe, he assumes, folks will forget that Vitter is getting away with hiring hookers and putting a violent criminal in charge of women’s issues for his Senate office.

But I have another question: why bother? Nate Silver’s most recent analysis shows the likelihood of Vitter winning re-election at around 99%. Pollster.com has a handy chart on its home page for the 13 most competitive U.S. Senate races, and Louisiana’s contest isn’t on the list. In the last three months, how many polls have shown Melancon within single digits? Zero.

Vitter, by every measure, is cruising — and he’s hitting the xenophobe button with three weeks to go anyway.

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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.