So on a virtual party-line vote (no Democrats voted “yea,” five Republicans–two of whom actually favor impeachment–voted “nay”), House GOPers formally authorized a lawsuit against the president over his alleged abuse of executive authority in temporarily delaying the Obamacare employer mandate.

In figuratively the same breath, House GOP leaders from John Boehner on down are claiming any talk of impeaching the president is a “scam” cooked up by Democrats.

Totally aside from the hardly-insignificant level of talk about impeachment by Republicans before they were told to shut up and get behind the lawsuit, why would a political party trying to look sober and non-demagogic resort to a lawsuit whose main issues will be entirely moot by the time a decision is rendered? There’s really no answer to that question, other than that the suit is a pressure valve designed to give Republicans something destructive to do before they risk the fateful step of going down the road to impeachment. The real “scam” here is that they are angrily denying it.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.