Still no correction, clarification, explanation, elucidation, or further elaboration from them about the The Cowboy Scene That Wasn’t. With the credibility of that piece vanishing like details from an LA Times hit piece, they’re doubling down with a surer hand — the case, based upon his senate record, that Fred’s nothing but a big ol’ McCain-hugging RINO. Why, the subhead even invokes the scarlet “M” in describing.

This makes two Times pieces in four days aimed detonating his conservative credentials. They’re sure looking to take him down early. Fear the Fred:

An actor, lawyer and lobbyist, Thompson seems to have earned more forgiveness than McCain for breaking with conservative dogma, in part because his maverick streak was tempered by an easygoing manner and a willingness to stick with the GOP on most issues. But it may also be because conservatives who back him now know less about Thompson’s Senate record than they do about his performance as a district attorney in the television hit “Law & Order.”

“He carries the same baggage that McCain carries,” said James Bopp Jr., an antiabortion activist who is backing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination. “Time does dim memories, and people need to be reminded of his support for McCain-Feingold.”

“Thompson had a chance to show leadership and did not,” said Larry Klayman, the conservative lawyer who issued the “wanted” poster to criticize Thompson for not running more aggressive hearings on President Clinton’s fundraising.

“I would not vote for him for president.”…

Sen. Thompson was a central architect, not a casual supporter, of [McCain-Feingold]. Republican leaders and conservative activist groups bitterly opposed the measure, which they believed would disproportionately hurt the GOP and its allies…

When the measure was on the Senate floor in 2001, Thompson was part of a core group of about 10 senators that met every morning to strategize before the day’s debate. He was so wedded to the issue that he sometimes complained that his name was not included in its moniker, according to a Senate aide who worked with him on the legislation. And when the law was challenged before the Supreme Court, he filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting it…

The way Thompson conducted the hearings [on alleged Democratic fundraising abuses in 1996] may raise questions about whether he has the zest for cut-and-thrust partisanship that many conservatives want in their leaders: Although conservatives wanted to keep the focus on Clinton and the Democrats, Thompson defied Lott and broadened the scope of the investigation, giving Democrats opportunities to question GOP practices.

Apologies for the long blockquote but you never know how much of this might disappear into the ether in a few hours if parts of it turn out to be wrong. Maybe it’s worth just screencapping the page, eh? I do like that reference, though, to partisanship while Henry Waxman spends his days flinging subpoenas to the immense delight of the fight-fight-fightin’ nutroots. If the red pen does come out, let’s hope that at least stays in.

Exit question: Anyone terribly bothered by any of this?

Update: “Fear the Fred” indeed, says Richard Viguerie. He’s gone RINO-hunting!