John McCain just put out a silver platter gift to his primary opponent in Arizona, one that could very easily lead to the end of his political career. This is hilarious:

In response to criticism from opponents seeking to defeat him in the Aug. 24 Republican primary, the four-term senator says he was misled by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. McCain said the pair assured him that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program would focus on what was seen as the cause of the financial crisis, the housing meltdown.

“Obviously, that didn’t happen,” McCain said in a meeting Thursday with The Republic’s Editorial Board, recounting his decision-making during the critical initial days of the fiscal crisis. “They decided to stabilize the Wall Street institutions, bail out (insurance giant) AIG, bail out Chrysler, bail out General Motors. . . . What they figured was that if they stabilized Wall Street – I guess it was trickle-down economics – that therefore Main Street would be fine.”

It just strains credulity to the extreme that McCain was misled about the bailout. Everyone knew exactly where the money was going – to Wall Street. It was called the Wall Street bailout in pretty much every contemporaneous report at the time. McCain’s lie is so obvious everyone can see it. Including his primary opponent, J.D. Hayworth, who wouldn’t see a truck if it was 10 inches in front of his face.

REPORTER: Let me ask you about something that Sen. McCain has said. He says that he was misled on TARP by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke. McCain says that the two initially assured him that TARP would be used to counter the mortgage crisis not to bail out the big banks. Do you believe that McCain was misled?

HAYWORTH: No I don’t Monica, and I find it most disturbing. Because the night before, on NBC Nightly News, you may remember John Yang had a report that featured John McCain saying that because of his experience, he was best equipped to represent Arizona. Now in Western vernacular, this ain’t John’s first rodeo. With over a quarter-century of experience, when he suspended his campaign to go back to Washington to sit face to face with those decision makers, now a couple years later, he’s telling us he was misled? I’m sorry, but I have to tell you, this instant revisionist history, saying you oppose something now that you actually voted for, that sounds a whole lot more like John Kerry in 2004 than the John McCain I used to work with.

It’s highly amusing to see John McCain go down in a cascade of lies. If Hayworth can get this message out on the bailout, he’s done in a Republican primary. Mark my words.

McCain also decided to lie about suspending his campaign:

Paulson, President George W. Bush’s Treasury secretary from 2006 to 2009, also is dishing out criticism of McCain, who on Sept. 24, 2008, temporarily suspended his ultimately unsuccessful presidential campaign to go to Capitol Hill to confront the economic crisis.

In his new book “On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System,” Paulson belittles McCain’s contribution to the response, noting that “when it came right down to it, (McCain) had little to say in the forum he himself had called.” He also called McCain’s decision to return to Washington, apparently without a plan, “impulsive and risky” and even “dangerous.”

McCain said Bush called him in off the campaign trail, saying a worldwide economic catastrophe was imminent and that he needed his help. “I don’t know of any American, when the president of the United States calls you and tells you something like that, who wouldn’t respond,” McCain said. “And I came back and tried to sit down and work with Republicans and say, ‘What can we do?’ “

McCain’s already flipped on this and walked back those remarks, and is now trying to get away with saying that Obama suspended his campaign too. It’s insanely funny.

Do Democrats have a decent candidate in Arizona? Because J.D. Hayworth is a crook and a thief and can be absolutely torched in a general election. If McCain loses the primary, which now looks highly possible, there’s a real opening here.

UPDATE: McCain is reduced to making a “Hayworth is a birther” video. It may be effective, but it strikes me as reflective of Hayworth’s problems in a general election more than helpful to McCain getting out of a primary.