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Twenty years ago, Paul Begala had a moment in the sun. He’s lived off that moment for the last 2 decades. It’s time to end the charade that he’s part of the mainstream of American politics. He isn’t. Begala’s latest temper tantrum is proof of that. Here’s a perfect example of Begala’s immoderation:

Today’s Republicans are different. They truly have put partisanship ahead of patriotism, as the political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann document in their book, Even Worse Than it Looks. “The GOP,” they write, “has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

Let’s explode this myth into tiny bits by asking Mr. Begala some pointed questions.

First, is it patriotic to put the vast majority of our oil, natural gas and coal offlimits? That’s what President Obama, his EPA and the militant environmentalists have done. The next question is simple: If putting America’s natural resources offlimits is patriotic, does that mean that higher gas prices, inflated grocery prices and expensive electric bills are patriotic?

Second, is it patriotic to compromise with people whose policies are driven by ideology (think cap and trade) or by the worst parts of crony capitalism (think Solyndra)?

Third, Mssrs. Ornstein and Mann said that the GOP is “unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science.” Would that be like the facts, evidence and science that were fudged by the leading voices of climate change? At minimum, the facts, evidence and science are questionable. At maximum, they’ve been utterly discredited by peer-reviewed scientists.

Fourth, is it patriotic to smear Sarah Palin simply for standing up for time-tested free market principles?

By comparison, Sen. Rockefeller isn’t supporting the use of coal ash in highways. It’s important that we remember that he’s the senior senator from West Virginia, a state that would be in poverty if not for the coal industry.

Is it patriotic or extreme to hate the driver of a state’s economy? I’d argue that a senator who won’t represent his state’s econommy isn’t being patriotic.

Finally, it’s important that we discredit the premise that TEA Party conservatives are extremists. That’s why I tried disproving that premise with my questions. TEA Party patriots only seem extreme if they’re viewed through the lens of someone who views the true mainstream of American politics from a distance.

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