Did you happen to see the campaign  photo of a befuddled  Mitch McConnell brandishing a gun?  It had the chilling appearance of a modern-day Alley Oop ambling out of a cave with his life-threatening  cudgel. But the Senate minority leader isn’t trying to sell tourism for this  state’s Mammoth Cave. No sirree.  He’s hoping to sell himself to the gun lobby and its well-stocked bluegrass militia.  Besides,  he’s in his sixth year of fulfilling his sorehead  pledge to destroy Barack Obama.

Mitch is the poster pol for blemished but still unfinished business.

McConnell is in a tough race  that could cost the Republican  his proud senate seat. Down in Ken-tuck, guns speak louder than words.  (It won’t be that long before the Derby jockeys will be wearing sidearms.)

Still, you have to wonder about the absurd  state of a  political system in which firearms are the tectonic stage props of choice.  We once were thought to live in a kinder, gentler nation.  The stagecraft wasn’t nearly as horrific.

The late Howard Metzenbaum, campaigning  against Republican Sen. Robert Taft in 1976, fashioned his pep talks to his audiences by whipping out a loaf of bread  from behind him with the rhetorical question: “Do you know how much this used to cost?

They didn’t need to know.  It had an electrifying effect when inflation was in the news during a Republican regime.  The late congressman Donald “Buz” Lukens, a primordial right (wrong!) winger from Middletown, Oh., arrived at an airport press conference with an American flag  on a pole that scraped the ceiling.  Patriotism never had it so good.

And then there was George W.Bush in his historic landing on an aircraft carrier fully togged  in a fighter pilot get-up while a sign declared MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.   Some of us huffed in disbelief at this staged lunacy,  “The hell it was.”

If McConnell’s Oop image doesn’t work, think Dubya will lend him the pilot uniform and have him land on a barge on the Ohio River?    Doesn’t matter that the suit  was never in harm’s way anyway.