During one of just two Question Period appearances this week, Stephen Harper repeated his Chretien-lifted warning to the opposition; Those who throw mud, lose ground.

The Prime Minister then proceeded to shovel plenty of wet dirt at NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, linking him to decade-old incidents which had nothing to do with the current discussion. 

The next day, an Ontario MP named Paul Calandra, who has been christened the prime minister’s smear specialist in absentia, unleashed a virtual mudslide across the centre aisle in Mulcair’s direction.

It used to be that classy heavyweight ministers took questions if the prime minister was away or felt answering was beneath him. Think Jason Kenney, James Moore or John Baird. They may have returned fire with cheap shots, but at least they did it with a wink to let their targets know it was just politics as usual.

But so repellently odious, ineffective and irrelevant has the Prime Minister’s feeble counterattack strategy become, none of these ministers will engage in the mudwrestling.

Enter Paul Calandra.

Plucked from obscurity last summer, he was christened Harper’s parliamentary secretary, given a transfusion of purple Kool-aid and had a PMO programming chip inserted where his mental capacity for independent thought used to reside.

Then he was dispatched to defend the indefensible with only blanks for ammunition.

What’s worse than watching Calandra answer legitimate questions with lip-curling jeers disconnected from current reality, he shamelessly drags his family into it.

This tendency to preach clean and deliver dirt is exacerbated by the Prime Minister’s uneven ethical tolerance.

The Prime Minister may have had grounds to denounce Nigel Wright’s $90,000 bailout for Mike Duffy as a deception and a cover-up.

But he can’t stay silently supportive of Senator Irving Gerstein, a key player in that cover-up as the Duffy deal negotiator who allegedly tried to block an audit into the Senator’s bogus claims.

One point is becoming very clear as this muddy mess continues to splatter. When the prime minister and his parrots speak, their only consistency is inconsistency itself.