THAT’S QUITE A ‘BRAINWASHING’…. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) still hopes to defeat Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) proposal to eliminate Senate earmarks, and as part of his efforts, the right-wing Oklahoman appeared on Fox News yesterday with a novel argument.

“The problem is the public has been brainwashed into thinking — and a lot of these are the very liberal, uh, members of Congress — into thinking that earmarks are somehow all bad. Well, if you quit saying ‘earmark’ and say ‘appropriations’ then I’ll buy it.”

Now, the obvious response is that the only folks who seem truly hysterical about eliminating earmarks are all on the right. It’s a favorite issue of Tea Party activists, and nearly all of the efforts attacking earmarks have come from very conservative Republicans.

But in Inhofe’s mind, perhaps Republicans have also been “brainwashed” by those rascally “liberals.”

Let’s back up a bit. Earmarks really weren’t a major part of the discourse until John McCain’s (R) presidential campaign in 2008. Barack Obama, at the time, thought this was all exaggerated. Here’s a quote from the final McCain/Obama debate from October 2008, in which the future president set the record straight:

“Now, Senator McCain talks a lot about earmarks. That’s one of the centerpieces of his campaign.

“Earmarks account for 0.5 percent of the total federal budget. There’s no doubt that the system needs reform and there are a lot of screwy things that we end up spending money on, and they need to be eliminated. But it’s not going to solve the problem.”

I hate to break it to Inhofe, but if the public’s been “brainwashed” on this, it’s not the left’s fault.

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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.