Sure, most of the swing-state chitter-chatter in recent weeks has focused on Barack Obama’s mighty push to swing Virginia into his electoral column come November, with the loudest chatter (and most kinetic chitter) swirling around whether or not the senatorial wunderkind would try to cement his prospects by picking our very own Governor Tim Kaine as his official “in case of emergency, break glass for alternate supply of hope” second-in-command.

But what about the Republican’s wizened presidential warrior, John McCain? Surely he wouldn’t simply sit by and let his oratorically adept opponent snatch the Old Dominion’s 13 historically Republican electoral votes out from under his (certified melanoma-free) nose, would he?

Well, fear not, lovers of political head-fakes and Hail Mary passes—in a well-timed campaign counter-punch, the McCain camp recently let it slip to the Associated Press that it was vetting Virginia’s 7th district U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (known far and wide—or at least from our den to our dining room—as the “Cooter Killer” for his 2002 electoral dispatching of beloved “Dukes of Hazzard” dipstick, Democrat Ben Jones) as a potential second banana.

Virgil Goode hasn’t endorsed John McCain, but he was sure to tell the candidate that Eric Cantor should be his running mate.

Now, on its face, the idea of Cantor as McCain’s Oval Office understudy makes a certain kind of sense. As the House of Representative’s chief deputy minority whip (and no, that doesn’t mean he’s in charge of making fresh meringue for his black and Latino constituents), Cantor is well versed in commandeering votes, and boasts the sort of unimpeachably conservative voting record that might mollify the GOP’s deep red base (who are still pretty steamed at McCain for voting against President Bush’s 2001 tax cuts and supporting immigration reform). Plus, Cantor is Jewish—which could help McCain with that traditionally Dem-leaning constituency—and a relatively spry young pol of 45, which makes him younger than Senator Treebeard by about, oh, let’s say the half-life of plutonium.

But there’s also a few tick marks in the negative column, as well—like the fact that nobody west of the Chattahoochee River has ever heard of the guy. And, while Cantor’s strong anti-tax and pro-life bona fides have endeared him to the Club for Growth and other conservative groups, his nonmainstream views on such topics as stem cell research (he no likey) and environmental issues (the latest League of Conservation Voters survey gives his enviro voting record an impressively dismal 5 percent) might put him at odds with McCain’s carefully cultivated independent image.

Lucky for McCain, then, that the electoral fate of the Commonwealth doesn’t hang solely on his much-anticipated choice of sidekick. No, to help thwart Senator Obama’s dastardly Dominion-stealing designs, Virginia’s Republican Party chairman, Jeff Frederick, has crafted a brilliant backup plan that involves…well, basically scaring the pants off prospective voters so they won’t show up to vote in November. (Because, you know, it’s pretty embarrassing to go to the polls without any pants.)

Yes, faced with record-breaking new voter registration (according to The Washington Post, 147,000 Virginians entered the rolls during the first half of 2008), state Del. Frederick broke out the fear-mongering in earnest, claiming that the arrest of three young, quota-chasing registration workers on fraud charges proved that “coordinated and widespread voter fraud” was afoot in the land, and that citizens should “exercise extreme caution” (i.e., run screaming from Obama’s army of volunteers) if anyone should offer to help them exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Of course, when pressed by the Post to identify even one instance of identity theft or other personal harm caused by this supposedly rampant voter fraud, Frederick could only mutter darkly, “I bet it exists somewhere.”

We’re sure it does, Mr. Frederick—right next to the “Kaine vs. Cantor Vice-Presidential Debate” set that MSNBC has already built around the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Luray Caverns. Can’t wait to see you there!