THE SUBTLETIES OF SARCASM…. One of the lead stories on Mark Halperin’s “The Page” this afternoon ran photos of Rush Limbaugh and President Obama alongside a headline that read, “Donkeys Fly.”

Limbaugh says he must open show “congratulating” president Monday, lavishes praise on Obama for OBL mission.

“Thank God for President Obama. If he had not been there, who knows what would have happened?”

Obama “single-handedly” came up with technique to kill OBL and was the “only qualified” person in the room to think up “extremely effective” method. “No one else thought of that.”

“I can’t tell you how happy and proud” it made me.

Around the same time, Politico ran a similar story. The headline read, “Rush: ‘Thank God’ for Obama,” and the lede told readers, “You heard that right: ‘Thank God for President Obama,’ Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show Monday afternoon. Limbaugh credited the president with the strategy that led to the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.”

The Hill also has a front page piece this afternoon, touting Limbaugh’s “praise” for President Obama.

In case anyone sees all of this coverage and thinks these media professionals know what they’re talking about, let’s clarify matters: Rush Limbaugh was being sarcastic. The way sarcasm works, someone says one thing, but they mean the exact opposite. Sarcasm is generally intended to be humorous, and not to be taken literally.

Limbaugh, in other words, was mocking, not praising, the president. These reporters have it backwards. (Indeed, the right-wing host is now laughing at these news organizations on the air.)

What amazes me about all of this is the fact that, even now, after all these years, many in the media don’t yet understand Rush Limbaugh. They still think he’s capable of decency, willing to honor a Democratic president he hates when the situation warrants it.

This just amazes me. Do these guys even know who Rush Limbaugh is? When he said on the air, “Thank God for President Obama,” did it not occur to them Limbaugh may not be sincere?

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.