Did you hear about the Republican candidate for Senate out West who wants to overthrow the entire American economic system? The one who, when asked about his view on the situation on Iraq, said he needed more time? Who said he couldn’t answer questions about the situation at the Mexican border because “only 11 days ago I was painting my storm windows”?

Of course you didn’t. Because he is a she, and a Democrat. Her name is Amanda Curtis.

You certainly would have heard about a Republican candidate like that, though. He would have been banner-headline material on The Huffington Post, Salon and other liberal redoubts. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would have given him the business. Op/ed columnists around the country would have held him up as an example of how radical wingnuts had seized control of the GOP.

After all: Any time some random Republican somewhere says something idiotic, you can pretty much count on it making national news. If he or she says something especially stupid (see: Akin, Todd) it’s likely to launch a national debate, in the sense of “debate” meaning “weeks of discussion in which everyone agrees the comment was heinous and keeps saying so, over and over.”

This happens with such regularity there’s even a term for it (coined by Slate’s David Weigel): the Republican Lawmaker Principle. There is, however, no corresponding Democratic Lawmaker Principle — though not because Democrats never say outrageous things. They do, and the conservative blogosphere delights in raking them over the coals for it.

But the broader media generally don’t pick up on Democratic inanities because, viewed through the filter of unconscious liberal bias, the comments are just unfortunate isolated incidents, rather than what dumb Republican comments are seen as: yet more data points supporting the thesis that Those People Are Swivel-Eyed Lunatics. This is true of every dumb Democratic remark, no matter how many occur.

This brings us back to Curtis, a state lawmaker in Montana. Democrats chose her to run for the Senate after the six-month incumbent, John Walsh, was busted for plagiarism.

Curtis has said some unflattering things about gun rights, and Christians, and her desire to punch other lawmakers in the face — all of them in YouTube diaries she broadcast as commentaries on the Montana legislative session. Nothing terribly far-out there. The far-out part is her association with the Wobblies.

The Wobblies are the Industrial Workers of the World, a hard-left union of historical vintage that let the 20th century pass it by. “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common,” the group proclaims. “Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.”

Nothing says “modern, forward-thinking progressive” like warmed-over Lenin.

Curtis’ husband is more active in the IWW than she, but her admiration for communist economics doesn’t stop there. Not long ago she replaced her Facebook profile picture with a photo of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the former chairwoman of the Communist Party USA.

Question: If a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate signified his admiration for the president of the American Nazi Party — or even the John Birch Society — do you think the media would find that at all newsworthy? Sure they would. What if a Republican had written for a newsletter of the Ku Klux Klan, as Curtis has written for the IWW? Ditto. Yet on the rare occasions when news outlets have seen fit to mention such details, they have done so in terms of conservatives “pouncing on” them. Man, those critics have some nerve, don’t they?

Curtis might be a fallback candidate, but that did not stop Montana Democrats from nominating her at a convention — just as Virginia Republicans last year nominated E.W. Jackson, a fire-and-brimstone minister, to be the state’s lieutenant governor. Jackson’s off-the-wall ravings about the sickness inherent in homosexuality, the satanic peril of yoga and so forth turned him into an object of national sport — and he wasn’t even seeking national office.

Curtis, however, is. Will she wind up getting the Jackson treatment before November? It’s possible — but don’t sit on a hot stove while you wait.

bhinkle@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6627 Twitter: @ABartonHinkle

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