Four years ago at this time, Mitt Romney was condemning John McCain for inviting corporate lobbyists to help run the senator’s presidential campaign. Now, Romney has begun taking strategic advice from one of those very same corporate lobbyists.

Mitt Romney has added a veteran Washington lobbyist — Charlie Black, a top political aide to Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign — to the circle of informal advisers who are trying to help to guide him to the White House. […]

Mr. Romney’s current presidential campaign is … wary of being linked to the culture of Washington, casting Mr. Romney as an “outsider” and a “businessman” who will clean up the way politics is done in Washington.

But on Monday, aides to Mr. Romney confirmed that Mr. Black, a veteran Washington power broker, is supporting Mr. Romney’s 2012 effort.

It’s not altogether clear how significant a role Black is playing, though the powerful D.C. lobbyist conceded yesterday he offers Romney “occasional” advice.

(Black appears to have settled on Romney, after having encouraged Mitch Daniels to run, not because he thinks the former Massachusetts governor is great, but because Black thinks Romney is better than his rivals. I imagine Romney gets that a lot.)

But for those who’ve forgotten, it’s worth revisiting Black’s interesting lobbying background. The lobbyist served four years ago as McCain’s senior campaign strategist and chief political advisor, but before that, Black put together quite a client list, featuring a motley international crew of thugs and authoritarian tyrants.

In addition to his extensive corporate work, Black’s client list included (but is by no means limited to) Iraq/Iran’s Ahmad Chalabi, Mobutu Sese Seko, Ferdinand Marcos, Somalia’s Mohamed Siad Barre, Nigeria’s Ibrahim Babangida, and Angola’s would-be dictator Jonas Savimbi. In each instance, Black was paid (handsomely) to boost their access, influence, and stature among U.S. policy makers. put together this rather brutal video four years ago, when Black was helping run McCain’s campaign.

YouTube video

And now this same Charles Black is offering advice to Mitt Romney. Maybe some enterprising campaign reporter should ask Romney about this.

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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.