SO MUCH FOR THE ‘COME TO JESUS’ MOMENT…. This morning, National Journal reported on the high expectations for this afternoon’s Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill in D.C. Far-right organizers hoped this one event, put together by one of the nation’s largest Tea Party organizations, could have an enormous influence on the larger budget debate.

If organizers have their way, the event featuring Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tex., will be a watershed “Come to Jesus” moment, influencing GOP lawmakers to hold fast to the full $100 billion in spending cuts they promised while campaigning in 2010.

So much for that idea.

Tea party organizers had high hopes for their rally today in Washington, DC — high enough hopes that they arranged for Fox to give it live coverage.

Then something sad happened. Just a few dozen people showed up. And Fox, naturally, blamed the weather.

I wasn’t there, so I can’t speak to turn out with any confidence, but I’ve seen some of the pictures, and the event appears to have been a bust. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a Tea Party favorite who has an incentive to exaggerate the crowd size, said 200 people showed up, but if the media footage is at all accurate, even that pathetic number is inflated.

Put in this way: the number of reporters and Republican lawmakers, when combined, rivaled the size of the attendees. That’s not good.

As for Fox News blaming the weather, let’s not forget that tens of thousands of progressive activists showed up in the snow in Wisconsin a few weeks back. With federal spending on the line, today’s Tea Party crowd was less than 1% as big … because of a little rain? That’s just sad.

Chances are, this little get together will be forgotten by dinner time, but part of me wonders if it might end up having the opposite of the intended effect. The goal was to offer a right-wing show of force — with a shutdown deadline looming, lawmakers were supposed to think to themselves, “I better not cross those throngs of activists who gathered at the Capitol on March 31.”

But the point is, practically no one showed up. How many members of Congress will be afraid to cross “those tens of activists” who were on hand today?

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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.