When I saw this, I figured we were in for one of the all-time great RINO-stomps in the comments section this afternoon. Alas, no — Lugar now says there’s been a misunderstanding, that he intended to vote for the House GOP’s $61 billion in proposed cuts all along. Three possibilities: (a) It’s true, he sincerely misheard the question reporters were asking him and gave the wrong answer. I’m just … not sure how. When he said, “I’m opposed to it,” what did he think “it” was? (b) He meant what he said about wanting to vote against the GOP bill, but then a staffer pulled him aside and explained that he’d never, ever, evah win the Republican primary if he did so. Supporting START is one thing, opposing fiscal responsibility quite another. Voila — instant reversal. (c) He meant what he said about wanting to vote against the GOP bill but then got wind of Harry Reid’s ode to cowboy poetry and the sheer embarrassment at being party to a budget ethos that impossibly stupid forced him to change his mind.

I’m leaning towards the third one.

“I’m going to vote with the Republicans on the issue when H.R. 1 comes up,” Lugar said. “If it’s strictly an affirmative vote, I will be for H.R. 1 because all the Republicans will be voting for H.R. 1.”

Lugar said he does not like the “formulation” of the spending cuts passed by the House and would like Congress to go even further to cut the deficit.

“My own feeling would be that we probably need to have more extensive savings than $58 or $61 billion,” he said.

Slightly more than an hour earlier in the day, Lugar told reporters that he would oppose the House bill as he walked into a weekly lunch meeting with Republican colleagues…

“I’m sorry if I misled people,” he said. “I’m going to vote for the Republican resolution, which is as clearly as I can say it.”

Lugar said he misunderstood the question because of the chaos of the press scrum that chased him to the door of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Room.

Below you’ll find a clip of him on CNN just last month admitting that, while he likes the idea of $60 billion in cuts, he doesn’t support “the entirety of the House bill.” That’s not to say he’d vote against it — averting a government shutdown appears to be his top priority — but clearly he has misgivings about some of the specific cuts called for by Boehner et al, a point he reiterated today in objecting to some of the bill’s “formulations.”

Speaking of a shutdown, House GOP whip Kevin McCarthy said this morning that Republicans are prepared to pass as many two-week budget extensions as it takes to keep the government running while they negotiate with Reid over a deal for the rest of the year. The only hitch: Each one will have to include new cuts on the order of the $4 billion that was trimmed by the two-week extension passed last week. In other words, if Reid won’t agree to $61 billion in cuts in one fell swoop, Republicans will do it piecemeal, two weeks at a time. That’s actually better for them politically since it’ll inevitably force Reid to stand on principle and reject a temporary extension that demands very small cuts, which will look even worse for him than his moronic defense of federal funding for cowboy poets. It’s pathetic that we’ve reached the point of impasse where that’s a possibility, but that’s Dingy for you.