Yesterday evening, John McCain raked in $1.75 million in payola from Ralph Reed’s Georgia cronies. The odious Joe Lieberman was attached to McCain at the hip, praising Saxby Chambliss as a great American (nothing like a little self-promoting toadyism, eh, Joe?).

But no Reed in sight. Hypocrisy, much?

McCain raked in the cash, but Reed — who was hoping to use this as a springboard back to public legitimacy — was publicly relegated to the sidelines. Reports are that McCain didn’t even mention him by name during the event which Reed helped organize. Ouch!

McCain’s been trying to distance himself from Reed since the word got out of his McCain beg letter. Merely ducking a photo op with Mr. "Praise the Lord and Pass the Collection Plate" does not clear the taint from all that dirty cash.

More putrid still? Earlier in the day, Reed spoke to the local Rotary club about the McCain family adopting a child from Bangladesh. The very same Reed who helped smear McCain’s family for said child during the 2000 election as an outside push-polling Rove/Bush surrogate. Classy.

Jeebus, there is no ditch these people will not slink into for money or power, is there?

So, how did Reed get involved in raising $1.75 million in payola? McCain’s campaign asked, according to Reed himself.

Reed e-mailed supporters and friends to urge them to give to the McCain campaign. Reed also instructed potential donors to send contributions directly to him. Reed told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he sent the e-mail at the request of the campaign and was given boilerplate language to use.

McCain’s people knew they were getting in bed with Reed:

Which is why Jamie Reynolds III, chairman of John McCain’s Georgia finance committee, probably did ask Reed to raise cash for the Republican nominee’s fund-raiser in Atlanta on Monday.

This is, in fact, evidence that McCain and his campaign organizers have seen — or should have seen — this coming, this convergence of McCain’s ambition and Reed’s need to reassert his place in the GOP. One does not ask for the help of Reynolds, a long-time supporter and friend to George W. Bush, without knowing that Reed will be involved as well.

Follow the money, indeed. All the way to the skanks.

To hell with scruples or decency or even outright shame at hopping into bed with a man who smeared your family with abandon, who has some of the dirtiest hands and stickiest fingers in all the GOP dirty schemes, money laundering and self-serving pocket-lining and malign use of religion for outright thievery. There’s gold in them thar shills!

So, what’s McCain doing for an encore today? Why, visiting his newest big money donor pals on an oil rig! But the DNC has a truthiness package for reporters traveling with McCain:

With McCain visiting an oil rig in New Orleans today, the DNC also has distributed an Exxon-McCain ’08 kit to reporters. Per the DNC, the kit includes “a limited edition Exxon-McCain ’08 stress ball in the shape of an oil drum (to help alleviate the stress of no longer getting access to the candidate) along with campaign buttons and bumper stickers.”

Ahhhh, good times!

Is it me, or does McCain seem like more bumbly version of Bush corruption without the ability to pull off the slick, scammy veneer? Maverick, my ass.

And while I’m at it, we’re still waiting for an answer on how Jack Abramoff was so damned helpful and cooperative but Ralph Reed and several other weasels are roaming freely? Anyone?

(YouTube — Soft Cell, extended version of Tainted Love.)