It hit me this morning who McCain has been reminding me of lately. I had been getting that sinking like Bob Dole feeling, crossed with the morning prune stylings of Hard Hat Fred Thompson, but that doesn’t quite get the petulant feel of spoiled Johnny who wants his way while wearing $520 Ferragamos in the discount grocery store and thinking no one will note it.

And then, it occurred to me.

All those BBQs and tasty Sweet Talk Express snacks for the press were designed to buy McCain whatever he wanted…with someone else’s money, natch. This isn’t about earning something, it’s about buying it because it is McCain’s right to get whatever he wants when he wants it. Or he whines.

In short: he’s the Francis candidate.

The internal grumbling from the GOP stalwarts and from within his own campaign has begun, as the "I know you are, but what am I?" retort wears incredibly thin on the American public. More importantly for McCain whose entire strategery depends on playing to his base, the press has been laughing at him.

And, inadvertently, that mockery has contained some nuggets of truth:

"…McCain is not at his best when he is being overly partisan and negative."

In other words, his inner asshole seeps out from beneath the public veneer, and we can’t have that, now can we?

But, in GOP world, where high power brings big money for consultants and politicos alike, failure means you either pass the buck or get drummed out on a rail. So, let the finger-pointing begin!

As Election Day nears, McCain’s campaign is adopting the aggressive, take-no-prisoners style of Karl Rove, the GOP operative who engineered victories for President Bush. The campaign continued the attack Wednesday with a sarcastic television ad deriding Obama as a "celebrity," part of an intensifying effort to cast him as an elitist….

McCain, who was most comfortable as an underdog in the unscripted environment of the New Hampshire primary, makes his advisers cringe as he delivers the attack line — and then keeps talking. In that respect, he is no Bush, his handlers say….

"It’s the candidate," said one GOP strategist with close ties to the campaign, who added that efforts to identify a theme for each week quickly unravel as McCain veers off message in his public comments….

So, let’s see if I have this straight: McCain’s Maverick persona, which they tout nonstop as if it were true, is a campaign liability, and if he loses it isn’t his staff’s fault, but his own for being Mavericky. Meanwhile, they are bitching because McCain is stubborn and refuses to listen to advice, or too dense to fully understand said messaging advice.  But they’d like us to vote for the stubborn and/or dense man to be the leader of the free world.

Oh, and, if McCain doesn’t get his way, he gets testy…which the press normally pretends not to see, but it will start seeping out at live events so we should all prepare for the horror. A man who has to campaign in Arizona, because he’s falling behind Obama in fundraising there and can’t even count on carrying it in November. Does that about cover it?

And I haven’t even gotten to the massive corruption baggage the GOP is carrying around at the moment.

Yep. the Francis candidate — "I know you are, but what am I?" I’d like to know which John McCain we’ll be getting today, too. Any guesses?

(YouTube — the "I know you are, but what am I?" scene from PeeWee’s Big Adventure. Just call this my AdNags headline of the day…)