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Catherine Templeton, a Republican candidate for S.C. governor, introduces former White House strategist Steve Bannon at The Citadel in November. File/Wade Spees/Staff

Catherine Templeton asked for this.

She got on TV last week and faked shooting a rattlesnake with a .38, then — wink, wink — raised the specter of doing the same to state officials.

“We can’t shoot the slithering snakes around Columbia, but we will end their poisonous, big-government ways,” she says.

Looks pretty basic, right? She’s trying to look tough, suggest she can weed out corruption and appeal to gun lovers. The pandering is just a bonus.

She really wants a controversy. Templeton is begging the media to attack her, to say that she’s deplorable for lamenting we can’t shoot state officials.

Then she can go play the victim, run and tell it on talk radio.

Want proof?

After no one in the media bit, state Rep. Justin Bamberg mildly said the commercial wasn’t a “brilliant” idea. Templeton had this statement ready to go: “The constantly outraged liberal left can take a deep breath,” her spokesman said. “No snakes were harmed during the making of this commercial.”

Actually, the people who should be outraged are Republican primary voters.

Because everything Templeton has done for the past year says she thinks they’re stupid.

Look over here

We’ve seen this act before.

On this date eight years ago, state Rep. Nikki Haley was running third in most polls for the Republican GOP gubernatorial primary.

The next day, Sarah Palin strutted into Columbia with her vacuous “You betcha” and “lamestream media” shtick, and endorsed Haley (for what is rumored around Columbia to be a substantial appearance fee).

Three days later, Haley was leading in the polls. She almost won a four-way primary without a runoff.

For that reason, appealing to the lowest common denominator has been Templeton’s road map for the past year, at least since she started spewing crowd-pleasing revisionist history about the Civil War. Which, in 2018, is not a serious issue in the South Carolina governor’s race. Or shouldn’t be. As Trump voters like to say: You lost — get over it.

So Templeton spends a year droning on about the NFL, sucking up to Steve Bannon, wringing her hands over historical monuments and griping about “political correctness.”

And did she mention the media hates her?

Templeton talks about this stuff because she thinks that’s what primary voters want to hear.

It’s really kind of insulting. Her strategy is to throw shiny objects into the air, gin up outrage from “liberal” reporters and hope no one notices what’s actually going on here.

That, despite her long, trademarked title, Templeton is not a “conservative outsider.”

She’s just another political hack who in the past seven years has had four separate, high-paying gigs tied to that Statehouse she calls a snake pit.

And, despite her shameless attempts to cozy up to Donald Trump, the president endorsed Gov. Henry McMaster.

Pay no attention

Funny thing about that 2010 governor's race.

It was a Republican wave year, a conservative reaction to President Barack Obama’s election two years earlier. The GOP absolutely dominated the electoral map.

In South Carolina, which Templeton claims is the most conservative state in the nation (can’t say union), Haley won ... with 51.4 percent of the vote.

Now, no one is foolish enough to predict the Democrats win this race. But you can betcha, given the way other election have been going this year, the Dems like their chances a lot better against this cartoon candidacy.

They could point out that, under Templeton, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control botched a tuberculosis epidemic in Greenwood County.

The State Ports Authority ditched her after five weeks on the job.

And, anyone who can really handle a gun doesn’t need two shots to kill a snake.

Despite all that, Templeton could very well win the Republican primary, and the governor’s office. The sad truth is, a lot of people don’t pay attention to such details, or facts.

They don’t realize the Statehouse that Templeton characterizes as a corrupt viper’s nest is entirely controlled by her own party.

That the self-proclaimed outsider is really just another sleazy insider.

And the snake in that commercial isn’t the rattler.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.