I think this is encouraging:

When Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann was named to the House Intelligence Committee earlier this year, one of her Republican colleagues responded this way: “Is that a punchline?” Another simply said, “Jumbo shrimp. Oxymoron.”
Neither dared to attach his name to his comment.

Obviously, it's kind of scary that a nut like Bachmann has attained a stature such that colleagues don't dare attack her openly. But the fact that Republicans are perfectly clear about what they're dealing with suggests that glimmers of sanity continue to exist in the party, at least in private.

Unfortunately, the message most Republicans get on the record is more in line with George Will's encomium to Bachmann:

For example, appearing on MSNBC's "Hardball" 18 days before last year's election, she made the mistake of taking Chris Matthews's bait and speculating about whether Barack Obama and some other Democrats have "anti-American" views. In the ensuing uproar -- fueled by people who were not comparably scandalized when George W. Bush was sulfurously vilified -- her opponent raised nearly $2 million and her lead shrank from 13 points to her winning margin of three.
Some of her supposed excesses are, however, not merely defensible, they are admirable. ...