As you’ve heard, even given that rock you’ve been living under, after President Bush, John McCain, and the Republican and the Democratic leadership of the House announced that an agreement had been reached, the actual vote on it failed, with a caucus of Republican conservatives bailing out on the bailout at the last minute, nominally because their feelings were hurt by Nancy Pelosi’s speech. (Realistically, because they and their constituents hated it, and no one wants to run for re-election on an issue like that.)

So who is to blame? Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke. Those two idiots violated two basic rules of salesmanship and trial advocacy: do not ask for too much and do not surprise someone who has the option of walking away.

Soon after those idiots dropped a basket of rotting fruit on Congress (which they described as a basket of roses), a spokesman admitted a stupefying fact — the administration had prepared the three-page bill months ago and nonetheless decided not to let Congress or the American people in on the possibility until they believed we were all on the verge of a new depression. Such was in sharp contrast to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout, which were deliberated by and authorized by Congress well in advance of the actual need.

It’s hard not to sympathize with the House Republican caucus, whose own Administration left them out of the loop of the most expensive act ever introduced in Congress, the principal point of which was to violate several principles stated in the Republican Party platform.

The application to trial advocacy is not hard to understand: if you have a hard sell coming up, get to work early and be prepared to take on some water.