McCain: You know who I respect? Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore

People keep e-mailing about this. Why?

“I respect Speaker Pelosi. I think she’s one of the great American success stories,” McCain said during an interview with The Chronicle prior to a fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

“We talk about (New York Sen.) Hillary Clinton and her inspiration to millions of Americans. Speaker Pelosi has been an inspiration as well” in a role that is “in many ways … more powerful than the president.”…

“I agree with his [energy independence] goal,” the Arizona senator said Monday of Gore’s idea. “I may disagree with all the ways of getting there. But I again want to emphasize my respect for the former vice president’s leadership on this issue and his continuous leadership. And I am in no way trying to get into a fight with him.”

Obama’s bounce is deflating by the moment, Hillary’s buddies are grumbling about Ludacris, and fully one-third of uncommitted voters are Dems. If tossing a few rhetorical bouquets at Pelosi and Gore endears him to would-be McCainocrats, what’s the harm? The more negative he goes on Obama, the more liberal ass he has to kiss to preserve the Maverick brand. Just paying a toll on the road to victory.

Exit question: I ask a version of this every day, but why are so many uncommitteds Democrats instead of Republicans? I still prefer the party identification theory — that a lot of these people are newly minted Dems who used to be centrists but have drifted slightly left, and are now caught between a liberal and center-rightist like McCain — but if you want to tease me with an argument about Hillaryite revolt, I won’t object.

Update: Tease me again!