Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been a Republican presidential candidate for about six weeks now, but he’s been reluctant to sit down for real broadcast interviews. Perry is, however, willing to chat on the air with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, leading to insightful exchanges like this one, flagged by Ian Millhiser.

HANNITY: Some people said, well, you used the term once “secession.” That’s not anything — is that something you believe?

PERRY: No, and I never used that term, at all.

HANNITY: Then why was it reported so heavily?

PERRY: I have no idea to be real honest with you, because it was never a really factual piece of reporting. It was shouted out by an individual at an event — at a Tea Party, actually — and I said, “Listen, America is a great country. We have no reason why we would ever dissolve this union.”

Well, no, that’s not quite what he said.

In early 2009, Perry was so outraged by Democratic efforts to clean up Republican messes, he pushed the rhetorical envelope much further than he should have. The governor denounced the United States government as “oppressive,” arguing that it was “time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas.” Soon after, he said he doesn’t want to “dissolve” the union of the United States, “But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.”

A month prior, Perry said of Texas, “[W]hen we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation. And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.”

Did Perry specifically use the word “secession”? There’s no evidence of that*. But it’s entirely fair to say Perry dabbled in secessionist rhetoric, which in itself should be considered scandalous in the 21st century.

Hannity, as it turns out, did not follow-up on this point during the interview. I can’t imagine why not.

* fixed

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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.