I’ve watched two of the videos allegedly composed by Jared Lee Loughner, the 22 year-old right-wing nutter who shot Democratic Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others five or six hours ago. Tea Party gun wackos are all over Arizona, but are you going to tell me that Sarah Palin‘s “Take Back The 20” website (which has since gone down) and its use of rifle-sight imagery to target Giffords wasn’t an inflammatory factor?

After Giffords’ office was attacked, she spoke to MSBNC about being the target of Sarah Palin’s campaign that had Congressional areas in crosshairs. “Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district,” she said, “and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action.” She stated that such imagery was trying to “incite people and inflame emotions.”

N.Y. Times Update: “Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik offered an emotional, angry assessment of the state of America in the wake of the shootings in Arizona, saying that two of his close friends — Ms. Giffords and Judge John Roll — were among the victims.

“Mr. Dupnik blamed the crime on the rhetoric — presumably political rhetoric — in the country.

“‘When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,’ he said. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

“Mr. Dupnik said it is time for the country to ‘do a little soul searching.’

“‘The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business…This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in.'”

Update: An HE reader made a fair point in linking to this 12.13.04 Democratic Leadership Council page with a map targeting red states that were deemed possibly winnable by Democratic candidates in future elections. Each state is marked with a target icon similar to Sarah Palin’s Take Back The 20 website. Yes, it’s the same idea but — key distinction! — the Democrats used archery target icons while Palin used rifle-sight icons. Bows and arrows are inherently less lethal and obviously an anachronistic alliteration. If and when an assassin tries to kill a politician with a bow and arrow, let me know and we’ll talk.