by Gage Skidmore

During the CNN/Teabagger debate the other night, the Secessionist got into it with Michele Bachmann over the HPV vaccine, and he delivered this awkward retort.

“If you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.”

That of course begged the question — what about $30,000?

Merck has given $28,500 to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns since January 2001, according to a new report by Texans for Public Justice, a political watchdog group, which uses data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

And since January 2006, Merck has given an additional $377,500 to the Republican Governors Association, which, in turn, was one of the largest backers of Perry’s own campaigns. Notably, Perry also served as the chairman of the governors association from 2007 until last month, when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell succeeded him, so that Perry could pursue his presidential run.

Perhaps more importantly, Perry’s friend, former chief of staff Mike Toomey, spun through the revolving door to become a lobbyist for Merck in Texas, a position he held at the time of the HPV-related executive order.

The Secessionist knows how to make a buck. He didn’t become a millionaire while he’s been governor by chance.