House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced yesterday that congressional Republicans would like to help the victims of the brutal tornado in Joplin, Missouri, but emergency aid wouldn’t be automatic. The community would get its federal disaster relief, just as soon as the GOP received a ransom: off-setting spending cuts.

He wasn’t kidding. When Tom DeLay was the House Majority Leader, Republican agreed that emergency disaster relief should be immediate. But by 2011 standards, Tom DeLay was a moderate.

And sure enough, House Republicans yesterday approved a $1 billion aid package, right after they got their payoff.

House Republicans, who require spending cuts whenever new spending is proposed, said the FEMA funds would be paid by cutting $1.5 billion from an Energy Department loan program for the production of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Yes, of course. Discouraging the production of fuel-efficient vehicles when gas is $4 a gallon, in order to help a decimated American community, certainly makes sense, doesn’t it?

Did voters elect congressional Republicans or comic-book villains?

Or as Oliver Willis put it, “Let me repeat: Republicans say that the gods of spending cuts must be appeased before we assist our fellow Americans in a time of disaster…. The Republican party has so far gone around the bend, it’s beginning to resemble an actual monster.”

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) of Missouri was on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” last night, and the segment is well worth watching.

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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.