While running for RNC chairman Michael Steele promised to expand the Republican party. Bigger tent. All that.

But in today’s weekly Republican address Steele showed he might not be ready to tackle the challenge he’s set for himself.

Most of his speech was pretty standard Republican fare. Taxes are too high, government is inefficient, blah blah blah.

Nothing noteworthy there.

But one line specifically caught my eye and it really shows Steele’s limitations. It’s included in the speech right after Steele whines about spending 45 million dollars (0.0056% of the total proposed 800 billion) “for ATV trails and removal of fish passage barriers”…

“Exactly what is a fish passage barrier and why does it cost 45 million dollars to stimulate the economy with it?”

If this line doesn’t shock and surprise you – then please let me explain what Michael Steele just did here…

1. He just alienated everyone who has ever used an internet search engine.

There is absolutely no reason Michael Steele shouldn’t know exactly what a fish passage barrier is. It’s 2009, Mr. Steele. If you want to know something, look it up online. Want some help? Let me Google that for you. Or better yet – maybe you should check out wikipedia. It’s all there. Maybe spend 5 minutes preparing for your next speech and if you still have any unanswered questions, you could always call Ken Blackwell – I heard he’s a new media ninja.

2. He just alienated half of the people in the western states.

Steele is from D.C. He’s a big city guy. Which is fine, except when you are trying to manage a HUGE tent full of people – many (read: MOST) of whom are not from big cities.

The Dams vs. Fish battle has been raging in the west for years and years. And by not knowing anything about it, Steele immediately alienated all of the “fish” people in less than a second.

The facts are pretty simple: removing fish passage barriers will have many economic benefits, from short-term construction jobs to long-term recreational and commercial fishing jobs.

If Michael Steele wants to attract new voters to his party without alienating the existing members, he’s going to have to spend a little more time and effort preparing for his speeches.