GOP OFFICIALS PLAY THE ‘WHO US?’ GAME…. With the prospects of a government shutdown growing every day, it appears every Republican in Congress has been told to repeat the same line over and over again.

Here, for example, was the perpetually-confused Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), talking yesterday to Fox News:

“There’s no Republican that’s going to shut the government down or wants to shut the government down. The only people talking about that right now are the Democrats.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) used nearly identical language three weeks ago, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) echoed the talking point last week, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) adopted the same line on Monday.

It’s hard to overstate how ridiculous this is. To be sure, I understand the underlying point — if Republicans shut down the government next week, they don’t want to be blamed — but only a fool could find the GOP rhetoric on this credible.

The record isn’t in dispute. ThinkProgress has been keeping a running tally of Republican lawmakers who’ve been talking up the notion of shutting down the government, dating back to September. Indeed, the list keeps growing — over the weekend, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) told constituents, “If my Republican leadership asks me to vote for a budget, even a two-week budget, that doesn’t have spending cuts, I will say no and I will shut down government.”

“The only people talking about that right now are the Democrats”? Are you serious?

Republican leaders appear absolutely certain that the political world is dominated by easily-fooled suckers. I’m not certain they’re wrong — the lead story on Politico this morning featured this headline: “Shutdown: Does GOP have the edge this time?”

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.