A nice catch by Andrew Malcolm at the LAT, and a testament to The One’s pitchman skills. This isn’t a crap sandwich he’s trying to feed us; it’s an eight-foot-long crap hero, the sheer stench of which is capable of making a man sick at 40 yards. And he’s still managed to talk a plurality of the public into chowing down on it. As Malcolm says, imagine what the numbers would look like if he wasn’t out there every day giving it the ShamWow treatment.

Obama took his well-oiled road show to California in that time frame to hold two nationally-televised town hall meetings dominated by budget talk. He went on Jay Leno’s show and talked to some 14 million bedtime viewers about the budget. He did a well-watched “60 Minutes” interview last weekend and talked more about the budget. He held a nationally-televised primetime news conference Tuesday and talked endlessly about the budget to an estimated 42 million Americans. His support team mobilized millions of e-mails to gin up supporters across the land to talk up the budget, especially to friends and elected representatives. Other groups ran ads supporting the budget. Obama brings up the ambitious budget at every opportunity. And he drove to Capitol Hill to create even more opportunity for budget news coverage.

The result, according to Gallup: People who feel positively about his budget fell from 44% in late February to 39% this week. People who feel negatively about the budget increased one point to 27% in the same time frame. And after all that budget talk, people who claim to not know enough to have an opinion increased 10% from 30% to 33%.

Don’t forget the planted questioners at that townhall infomercial on Thursday as part of his well-oiled show. Exit question: How long can he keep it up? I’m thinking … a lot longer, especially with 54 percent of the public telling CNN a few weeks ago that a bad economy will still be Bush’s fault a year from now. On the other hand, woe to any man/Messiah who raises taxes after promising — again and again and again — that he wouldn’t. Here’s a video from Third Base Politics that captures the gathering storm.