Yesterday MSNBC’s Martin Bashir opened his show with an apology for his closing remarks on Friday about Sarah Palin. As if she or her Umbragettes were truly offended. (More)

Squirrels are experts on umbrage in its original meaning. There’s nothing quite like relaxing in the shade of a nice tree, especially when the same branches and leaves that provide the shade also help us hide from predators. Umbrage comes from the Latin word umbra, meaning “shade,” which may explain why the group Penumbral Glow didn’t last very long. A penumbra is the shady bit around something. The glowy bit is the corona or, for paranormal types, the aura. Name your band after an oxymoron and … well I digress.

Anyway, later people linked shade with negative emotions – the metaphorical hovering dark cloud – and “umbrage” acquired its more familiar meaning of taking offense. So I shouldn’t be surprised that Sarah Palin and her Umbragettes seem a little … shady.

The fauxrage started Friday when MSNBC’s Martin Bashir ended his show with a withering criticism of Palin’s claim that the national debt is like slavery. Bashir described, in horrific detail, the kinds of punishments that slaves sometimes endured. And then, as Wonkette’s Doktor Zoom wrote, Bashir stepped over the line:

See, this is where Bashir could have stopped and asked exactly how any aspect of national debt resembles these realities of slavery. But being a teevee guy, he had to take that next step:

“I could go on, but you get the point,” Bashir said, concluding “When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate.”

And because Thistlewood’s discipline included one slave being forced to defecate in another’s mouth, this clearly meant Bashir literally wanted to watch someone force that on Palin. Cue the Umbragettes:

Michelle Malkin defended Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on Sandra Fluke, so I doubt she really cares about misogyny. I doubt Palin was actually offended either. More likely, Palin had the same feeling Ann Romney admitted to during L’Affaire de Rosen:

Mrs. Romney acknowledged Republicans’ deficit at present with female voters, and urged the women in attendance to talk to their friends, particularly about the economy. She also discussed the criticism she faced this week, and her pride in her role as a mother.

“It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it,” Mrs. Romney said.

To his credit, Bashir apologized yesterday. But let’s not kid ourselves here. Palin and the Umbragettes were delighted that Bashir stepped over the line. That let them change the story from Palin’s racist and offensive trivialization of slavery to one of her favorite roles … Palin as Victim:

“Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own,” Ms. Palin said in a seven-and-a-half minute video posted to her Facebook page. “Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”

Ms. Palin’s use last year of a map with cross hairs hovering over a number of swing districts, including that of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, has become a symbol of that overheated rhetoric. In an interview with The Caucus on Monday, Tim Pawlenty, a potential 2012 rival for the Republican presidential nomination and the former governor of Minnesota, said he would not have produced such a map.

In the video, Ms. Palin rejected criticism of the map, and sought to cast that criticism as a broader indictment of the basic rights to free speech exercised by people of all political persuasions.

Unless the free speech criticizes her, of course. Then it’s “reprehensible.”

Find me some pearls to clutch. Or better yet, macadamias.

Good day and good nuts.