South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham’s usual allies are not impressed with the Republican senator’s suggestion that the time might have come to start nationalizing banks.

“Did hell just officially freeze over?” grumbled Fox News host Stuart “I am refugee from (British socialism)” Varney, “A top Republican senator says he is open to nationalizing our banks…”

So opened a segment where Varney welcomed Brian Moore, the Socialist Party’s 2008 presidential candidate, to the cable redoubt of yahoo economics.

Moore agreed with Comrade Graham’s prognosis.

Varney did not.

And it made for a bizarre (yet oddly refreshing) five minutes of something akin to debate about the current economic crisis.

The smirking Varney spent most of the program spouting nonsense about “the Politburo” to Moore, a thoughtful democratic socialist whose views are more in line with those of Franklin Roosevelt than Joe Stalin.

Noting that Social Security, unemployment insurance and child labor laws were all socialist ideas that were embraced by Democrats — and Republicans — and are now cherished by the American people, Moore turned the tables on Varney, reminding the host that, “Capitalism has sapped our economy. We are on the verge of collapse…”

Moore even got to ask why, at this point in the crisis, trillions of federal tax dollars are still being streamed into the accounts of big banks that are bent on squandering it.

Of course, Fox is ridiculous, and Varney’s inability to distinguish between democratic socialism and Stalinism is pathetic

But rare is the American television program that lets an actual socialist spar with a free-market jihadist.

That’s the refreshing part.

One need not be a socialist to recognize the need of socialist ideas in a debate that is painfully unrealistic if the range of responses to the crisis runs from a Republican longing for the return of Reaganomics to a Democratic longing for Bill Clinton’s kinder-gentler variations on Reaganomics.

So kudos to Fox, kudos to Moore and kudos to Comrade Lindsey Graham for inadvertently opening up a discussion of bank nationalization, socialism and — dare we say it? — rational alternatives to making more of the mistakes that got us into this mess.