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By Kurt Bardella, NBC News THINK contributor

Nothing illustrates the hypocrisy of the Republican Party during the era of Donald Trump more than their willingness to give the president a complete pass on his bizarre statements about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Speaking at a rally on Saturday night in West Virginia, Trump revealed that he had “fell in love” with the very man Republicans labeled a “nut job” and a “lunatic” just a few years ago. “I was really being tough and so was he. And we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love, ok? No really. He wrote me beautiful letters. And they’re great letters. And then we fell in love.”

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to visualize how Republicans would have reacted if former President Barack Obama had said something similar. Of course, Trump is known for conflicting if not blatantly untrue statements, but there's something especially concerning about this kind of inconsistency when nuclear weapons are involved. And unlike Trump, the GOP has been quite clear about how it feels about Kim Jong Un's nuclear ambitions — that is, until recently.

In December of 2014, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, called for North Korea to be put “back on the state-sponsored terror list,” and said that the United States should “try to infiltrate their media and get the message out about who exactly runs their country and that there’s a better way. I’d go all in in trying to expose this regime to the North Korean people for the nut jobs they are.”

In January of 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., attacked Obama saying, “I have been warning throughout this campaign that North Korea is run by a lunatic who has been expanding his nuclear arsenal while President Obama stood idly by… we need new leadership that will stand up to people like Kim Jong-un and ensure our country has the capabilities necessary to keep America safe.”

Trump is known for conflicting if not blatantly untrue statements, but there's something especially concerning about this kind of inconsistency when nuclear weapons are involved.

In February of 2016, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sent a letter to Obama to “express deep concern” regarding Obama's “policy of ‘strategic patience’ toward the Democratic People’s Republican of Korea (DPRK).”

In September of 2016, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called on Obama to “immediately make use of the sanctions authorities Congress gave him earlier this year and he should join me in urging China, as Pyongyang’s chief sponsor, to fully enforce the international sanctions on the Kim regime.”

And yet, while Republicans were all too willing to attack Obama’s approach to dealing with North Korea, they have been predictably silent as Trump speaks lovingly — literally — about the North Korean leader.

If Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., was being sincere in calling for a “firm response” to the “tyrannical Kim regime” in 2016, what must be going through the good senator’s head when the president of the United States and commander-in-chief talks about his eloquent new pen pal? We may never know — but we can guess.

So far, the main strategy appears to be feigning ignorance. In the hours following Trump’s declaration of love,’s homepage featured a total of zero headlines devoted to the stunning statement. The Drudge Report had no mention of “North Korea” or “love.”

And what does North Korea think about this modern romance? Earlier on the same day, North Korea’s foreign minister said that there was “no way we will denuclearize” without concessions from the United States, pointing out that “we have far more reasons to distrust the United States.”

This is hardly surprising, since in early August national security advisor John Bolton conceded that North Korea had “not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize.” Bolton even went so far as to say that “we’re going to continue to apply maximum pressure to North Korea until they denuclearize.”

Nobody seems to be on the same page here — not Trump, not Trump's national security team, not Republican lawmakers and certainly not the North Koreans. I guess exchanging love letters is what passes for “maximum pressure” in the Trump administration.