CONWAY REACHES FOR THE KITCHEN SINK…. In Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) is trailing right-wing ophthalmologist Rand Paul (R), but the underdog appears to be within striking distance. With two weeks to go, the Democratic campaign is prepared to do what it takes to close the gap.

That, apparently, includes this bizarre new ad, going after Paul’s controversial background, including the secret society he joined in college, which mocked Christianity, and Paul’s drug-induced fondness for the “Aqua Buddha.”

I have no idea whether something like this will be effective. Kentucky’s cultural conservatism and strong evangelical majority may respond well to the message, and reinforce fears about Paul’s personal oddities. (The point is spelled out plainly in the ad’s conclusion: “Why are there so many questions about Rand Paul?”)

Still, I much preferred when Democrats didn’t attack rival candidates over their religious beliefs.

What’s more, I also think Conway has an even stronger line of attack going after Rand Paul’s support for a regressive 23% sales tax on everything Kentuckians purchase. Not only has the Republican candidate endorsed the radical idea, he’s even lied about it.

This week, Paul told reporters of the tax scheme, “I haven’t really been saying anything like that.” But the evidence to the contrary is clear — Paul endorsed the 23% sales tax in writing; in April he delivered a speech calling it a “great” idea; and he’s expressed his support for the tax policy over and over and over again.

Forget Paul’s quirky religious background and his college days; this seems like the real vulnerability.

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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.