GIVING NEW MEANING TO THE PHRASE ‘DIM BULB’…. The right finds the strangest things to get worked up about. Take light bulbs, for example.

In 2007, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and congressional Democrats worked on an energy bill, which included advanced light-bulb standards, intended to spur innovation, lower costs, and improve energy efficiency. The provision was approved with bipartisan support, and the larger legislation was easily passed and signed by President Bush.

The effort was a great success. Republicans have now decided they don’t care.

One of the leading Republicans in Congress, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), appeared on the G. Gordon Liddy Show [Thursday] and discussed this notion of an “innovation economy.” After Liddy peddled the ludicrous claim that House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) had implemented a ban on incandescent light bulbs in the United States, McCotter used the opportunity to scoff at liberal efforts to improve the incandescent light bulb, a product that was first invented over 200 years ago. He called the irony “striking” that liberals would “prais[e] the end of the incandescent bulb at the very time they’re talking about an innovation economy.”

If this sounds dumb, you should listen to the exchange to appreciate just how dim these bulbs really are.

Liddy asked if McCotter could help “get our light bulbs back.” The Republican lawmaker said he could, adding, “I saw that some on the left were praising the end of the incandescent bulb, at the very time they’re talking about an innovation economy. The irony is striking.”

In Grown-Up Land, that’s not what “irony” means. When the left talks about “innovation,” the point is to emphasize new technologies that can advance national interests. When Democrats look forward on energy policy, and move past an inefficient, 200-year-old light bulb design, there’s nothing “ironic” about it. McCotter has it backwards.

By the way, who’s Thaddeus McCotter? He’s the guy Republicans recently made the chairman of the House GOP conference — a top leadership post — who, just last week, threw his support to the Mubarak regime in Egypt.

Regardless, the larger point is worth keeping in mind, because it keeps coming up — while some policymakers focus on how to improve American competitiveness in the 21st century, a few too many Republicans have their eyes on the 19th century.

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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.