How many faintly ominous pieces has Politico run this year about people close to Obama colluding to target their political enemies? There was the story about Rahm Emanuel’s friendly daily chats with Begala, Carville, and Stephanopoulos, then there was the expose on the group effort (“explicitly authorized” by David Axelrod) to make Rush Limbaugh the face of the GOP, and now this. No wonder Ben Smith’s using the word “conspiracy.”

Question to our resident Politico-haters: Has any other publication written extensively about this sort of thing? If so, I missed it.

The vast new left-wing conspiracy sets its tone every morning at 8:45 a.m., when officials from more than 20 labor, environmental and other Democratic-leaning groups dial into a private conference call hosted by two left-leaning Washington organizations…

The call has proved particularly effective at coordinating attacks on critics, said Jackie Schechner, the national communications director for Health Care for America Now, a labor-backed alliance of groups that support Democratic efforts to expand health care.

“There’s a coordination in terms of exposing the people who are trying to come out against reform —they’ve all got backgrounds and histories and pasts, and it’s not taking long to unearth that and to unleash that, because we’re all working together,” Schechner said.

When a new group called Conservative for Patients Rights, for instance, launched an ad campaign featuring former health care executive Rick Scott, “There was a discussion about what do we know about this guy and in a very quick period of time we were able to come up with his background,” she said…

Though White House officials do not participate in the calls, Palmieri said, the new infrastructure is closely tied to the White House. Podesta directed Obama’s transition, and Americans United for Change exists largely to run ads promoting the White House agenda. Some on the left, however, remain skeptical of the White House’s embrace.

Yeah, no doubt this’ll come as a bolt from the blue to Axelrod. To be clear, I don’t have any real problem with what they’re doing: It’s smart politics in a media age, no matter how creepy the thought may be of the White House calling plays for sympathetic groups to tackle opponents. Rest assured, the next Republican president will make even better use of the tactic than Bush did, especially as new media proliferates. We’re only six weeks into Obama’s term, though, and already I’ve lost count of the number of “What if Bush or McCain did it?” moments we’ve had, starting with The One’s newfound fondness for rendition, his bizarre rudeness to Gordon Brown, his blase attitude towards the Dow’s death spiral, his sudden tolerance for earmarks by the thousands, and on and on. Consider this the capper, as the thought of dozens of cogs in the “right-wing noise machine” turning daily in unison on a White House axle would warrant a Very Special Episode indeed of “Countdown,” replete with sneering references to “Minitruth” just to remind you that Cornell men have read their Orwell. Exit question: What’ll be the next “What if Bush did it” moment? Hillary sends a letter to Iran written in Arabic instead of Farsi? The One throws up during his meeting with the queen? Guesses welcome.