The Speaker of the House doesn’t understand what astroturfing is, so why should the Senate majority leader?

Reid, armed with a patch of Astroturf, slammed Republicans for sponsoring town hall attacks on Democrats and accused the party of waging a barricade on Democratic efforts to pass health care reform legislation.

“I just want to show you what Astroturf really is,” Reid said to laughter. “They’re taking their cues from talk show hosts, Internet rumor mongers, and insurance rackets.”…

A senior Republican Senate aide shot back: “Harry Reid will be surprised to learn that not only do the people he routinely insults have opinions, they also vote. Right now the ‘astroturf’ is out-polling Harry Reid 60-40 in Nevada.”

But Democrats seemed to be on a roll with their pushback Thursday.

“These guys don’t care about you,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said of the town hall protesters. “They care about YouTube.”

“We can spot a ringer,” Durbin said.

Help me figure this out. The whole point of “astroturfing” is to generate fake grassroots activity, right? That’s where the name comes from: Astroturf is a type of synthetic grass. Well, how is it “fake” if actual grassroots conservatives hear Rush Limbaugh say “you should go to your local townhall meeting on health care” and decide to go? They’re not being paid or fed or bused in or given pre-made signs. There’s nothing organized about it, or at least no more so than “objective” journalists recycling Democratic talking points about mobs by the dozen. Seriously, am I missing something here or have we now reached the point where conservative opinion is per se illegitimate and tantamount to a political dirty trick?