KING DENIED HIS THRONE…. With the ascension of the new House Republican majority, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has been looking forward to his new power and influence. As the ranking member last year on the House’s immigration subcommittee, the deranged Iowan fully expected to have the chairman’s gavel in 2011.

Yesterday, King received news he didn’t want to hear — his own colleagues picked someone else for his job.

The new Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, has passed over an outspoken immigration hard-liner and member of the Tea Party caucus for chairman of the immigration subcommittee

In an announcement Friday, Mr. Smith unexpectedly gave the job of chairman of the subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement to Representative Elton Gallegly, a conservative Republican from California.

Representative Steve King of Iowa, who was the senior Republican on the subcommittee in the last Congress and was expected to take over as chairman, was named vice chairman instead. Mr. King is known for his high-profile support for measures to crack down on illegal immigration.

In an interview late Friday, Mr. King made no secret of his surprise and disappointment. “I don’t know I can explain it,” he said.

I might be able to help King understand. The problem, apparently, is that King manages to embarrass other conservative Republicans, even those who might agree with him, with his unhinged lunacy. King makes his entire party look even worse, and he acknowledged yesterday that caucus leaders “may not have wanted to give him a larger platform.”

Imagine that.

That’s the good news. The bad news is, Republicans handed the gavel to Elton Gallegly who, as a substantive matter, only differs from King in tone. Indeed, Gallegly isn’t as high profile as King, but when it comes to policy, the Californian has described himself as one of the “top ten illegal immigration hawks in Congress,” and agrees with King on everything, including a constitutional amendment to change the 14th Amendment.

I’m glad King was slighted by his own GOP brethren, but substantively, not much has changed here.

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.