In a nifty opinion-editorial published in this morning’s Washington Post, S.C. Attorney General “Kneejerk” Henry McMaster was exposed far more efficiently than any of the “sexual deviants” he’s ostensibly cracking down on via his politically-motivated crusade against the Internet marketplace “Craigslist.”

Simply put, “Kneejerk” Henry got owned, or as some would say, “McMastered.”

Basically, McMaster’s ongoing effort to generate headlines for himself has inadvertently generated some real headlines – national ones. And surprise, surprise – once again those headlines make South Carolina politicians look like a bunch of thick-drawled, sanctimonious morons, which naturally most of them are.

Anyway, from the Post op-ed:

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster is giving even the normally sleazy Attorney General title a bad name. This is an office that has little to do with protecting the public and everything to do with making high profile attacks on targets that will generate a lot of positive press. All that press leads to a run for higher office …

Earlier this month McMaster, who is of course eyeing a run for governor, threatened criminal prosecution against Craigslist management if pornography and ads for prostitution were not removed from the site. Craigslist took extraordinary measures to comply.

But quiet compliance isn’t what McMaster is looking for. He wants handcuffs and a trial, the kind of stuff that (former New York Governor Eliot) Spitzer got. He issued the following statement on Saturday “As of 5:00 p.m. this afternoon, the craigslist South Carolina site continues to display advertisements for prostitution and graphic pornographic material. This content was not removed as we requested. We have no alternative but to move forward with criminal investigation and potential prosecution.”

Now – and this is really the key point here – assuming McMaster really does care about cracking down on explicit sex ads, is his “press clip tour” actually targeting the websites that are pushing them?

Craiglist doesn’t think so.

But instead of just saying they don’t think so, they’ve informed McMaster’s office of what they claim are far more egregious examples of explicit Internet content …

The craigslist adult services section for Greenville, SC has a total of 1 ad for the last 3 days, featuring a photograph of a fully clothed person. The ‘erotic services’ section for Greenville, which we recently closed, has 8 ads total which will expire in two days, and even for these ads the images and text are quite tame.Meanwhile, the ‘adult entertainment’ section of (careful with link, NSFW), owned by Village Voice Media, has over 60 ads for the last 3 days, and about 250 in total. In sharp contrast with craigslist, many of these ads are quite explicit, quoting prices for specific sex acts, featuring close-ups of bare genitalia, etc.

We reviewed the Greenville “back page” as well, and it’s not even close. Craigslist is like reading a children’s book by comparison.

Of course – as is almost always the case in Palmetto politics – the facts don’t appear to matter much to the people making decisions.

McMaster is targeting Craigslist for one reason – they’ve been in the news and he can generate easy headlines by going after them. Oh, and since it’s part of his “official duties,” that means taxpayers have to pay for his media barrage/ frivilous prosecution.

Never mind that Craigslist isn’t actually the root of the “problem,” or even really representative of the problem – McMaster obviously thinks a sufficient number of Republican primary voters will be stupid enough not to see through his spin.

The silver lining?

Even in South Carolina, there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to politically-motivated pandering – which McMaster has already learned once the hard way.

Like “Kneejerk’s” last attempt to generate positive press for himself on a sex crimes (sorry, alleged sex crimes) story, at some point we predict this tale will also blow up in his face.

If it hasn’t already …