We talked earlier about Michele Bachmann, campaigning in Florida, arguing that Hurricane Irene was a message sent by God in opposition to government spending. This morning, the right-wing lawmaker’s campaign spokesperson told reporters, “Of course she was saying it in jest.”

Is this a legitimate defense? Let’s take another look at this.

Here’s a clip from MSNBC of Bachmann’s quote:

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The full quote, which MSNBC only showed part of, is as follows: “I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

Also note, Bachmann didn’t just say this once. At a separate campaign event in Florida on the same day, she made the same point, using slightly different phrasing.

“Washington, D.C., you’d think by now they’d get the message. An earthquake, a hurricane. Are you listening? The American people have done everything they possibly can, and now it’s time for an act of God and we’re getting it.”

In both instances, the videos show Bachmann’s supporters chuckling.

I’ll gladly concede that the right-wing Republican delivered the comments in a seemingly lighthearted way, but it’s also worth noting that presidential candidates don’t generally joke about deadly natural disasters while the disaster is unfolding. Bachmann clearly liked the line well enough to repeat it more than once, but while she was drawing laughs, people were literally dying.

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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.