Dirty Harry has turned against the GOP.

That's basically the message in last night's episode of The Rachel Maddow Show, during which guest host Chris Hayes examined the popular Chrysler Super Bowl ad featuring Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood.

His conclusion: Eastwood's sideways endorsement of the auto bailouts punches conservatives where it hurts -- right in the Reagan.

President Ronald Reagan loved Eastwood and his Dirty Harry image, and even occasionally dropped Eastwood's most famous movie lines in public. That's because Eastwood's popular tough-guy image played right into the Republican narrative that they were coming to reassert American strength after President Jimmy Carter had so "emasculated" the presidency.

Eastwood was even in an anti-drug commercial featuring Nancy Reagan, and did a number of other anti-drug spots on the Reagan administration's behalf.

But now that Eastwood is singing a different tune, and praising one of President Barack Obama's policies on an issue where his likely Republican challenger goes in the exact opposite direction, conservatives have been sent reeling.

"If you doubt the potential effectiveness of this message, if you doubt its political potency, all you have to do is look at the conservative backlash against the Clint Eastwood ad today," Hayes said.

This video is from MSNBC, broadcast Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012.

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