As if we didn’t already know that there were scads of lobbyists on the McCain campaign payroll — and some not even on the payroll, just hanging with the candidate, giving advice and reaping the rewards of proximity to potential power and Commerce and Armed Service Committee connections and doing "a lot of his work by telephone from McCain’s Straight Talk Express bus." (Hello, Charlie Black.)

Given that questions have already been raised about potential deals and connections from the past with some of McCain’s lobbyist cronies and their interested clients, you’d think some attention would have been given to image and PR damage control. Turns out sucking in whatever money can be hoovered into the McCain campaign coffers is more important.

Thanks to some reportage on the biggest donors and bundlers for the McCain campaign, we now have even more names to look into. And — voila — it’s official: the McCain campaign, now with even more lobbyists! (Via NYTimes)

But an examination by The New York Times of a list of 106 elite fund-raisers who have brought in more than $100,000 each for Mr. McCain found that about a sixth of them were lobbyists. The list of “bundlers” was released on Friday by the McCain campaign.

The sizable number of lobbyists, who are outnumbered on the list only by those working in the financial services industry, offers another example of the balancing act that Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, is having to strike as he campaigns for the presidency and seeks to maintain his reputation as a reformer….

But the potential for conflicts of interest are obvious. Several of Mr. McCain’s top fund-raisers, for example, lobby for the telecommunications industry, which regularly does business before the Senate Commerce Committee, where Mr. McCain is a senior member and once served as chairman.

Kirk Blalock, of the lobbying firm Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, leads Mr. McCain’s young professional group and has raised over $250,000 for him; his clients include Sprint Nextel and Viacom.

Kyle McSlarrow, chief of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the lobbying arm for the cable industry, has raised over $100,000 for Mr. McCain. He and others in the cable industry recently butted heads with Mr. McCain over a proposal that would allow customers to pick and choose which channels they received.

In an interview Sunday, Wayne Berman, who is deputy finance chairman of the McCain campaign and a veteran lobbyist whose clients include Verizon and Verizon Wireless, dismissed the notion that some lobbyists might be raising money for Mr. McCain to curry influence…. (emphasis mine)

And then Wayne Berman‘s pants burst into flames.

Why, oh why, does the McCain campaign keep sending out lobbyists as ethics mouthpieces on lobbyist conflict of interest questions and to shore up McCain’s "outsider" credentials? Either they don’t have anyone else — or they really are that stupid.

The NYTimes could also say "Wayne Berman, of the McCain campaign and lobbyist for ChevronTexaco, and chairman of Federalist Lobbying as well as an insurance broker." Or "friend of Tom DeLay?" Or how about "AmeriQuest lobbyist Wayne Berman, whose client had interests before the Commerce Committee of which McCain was chairman." Wouldn’t that be informative for the public to dig further into at some point before November?

And that’s just one more person on the list. Imagine what we’ll find as we keep going. (Ask, and ye shall appear…)