That puts Republicans in a strange position: unable to say the legislation failed, but at pains to distance themselves from their vote nonetheless. Over the past couple days, I’ve asked a number of GOP senators whether, nearly two years later, they think the bailout bill was effective. Their answers were revealing.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), who’s retiring at the end of the year and is therefore unencumbered by the need to defend himself from the GOP base, has nothing to run away from.

“It was extremely effective,” Gregg told me. “Not only was it effective and stabilized the financial industry, it also returned to the taxpayers almost $20 billion in interest and dividends that they would have otherwise not have.”

Compare that to John McCain, who will face a primary of his own this summer. He says he and the rest of the country were lied to.