Barack Obama has gotten plenty of help from Republicans over the course of the past week.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell jumped party lines to endorse the Democrat for president.

So did former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson.

So did former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld.

But the biggest boost for Obama came from the unlikeliest Republican: George W. Bush.

After Republican presidential candidate John McCain went out of his way in recent days to distance himself from his party’s extraordinarily unpopular incumbent president, what did Bush do? Announce that he had voted early — for McCain.

Bush traditionally travels to Texas to vote on election day. But on Friday the White House announced that the Republican president had gone out of his way to cast that early ballot for his party’s nominee.

Obama did not neglect the news.

Speaking in Nevada Saturday, the Democratic nominee noted somewhat gleefully:

Senator McCain has been throwing everything he’s got at us, hoping something will stick. He’s even called me a socialist for suggesting that we focus on tax cuts, not for corporations and the wealthy, but for the middle class.

Then, the other day, he took it to a whole new level. He said that I was like George W. Bush. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. In what may be the strangest twist of all, Senator McCain said that I would somehow continue the Bush economic policies – and that he, John McCain, would change them.

He actually denounced the President for letting things – and I quote – “get completely out of hand.”

That’s right, John McCain has been really angry about George Bush’s economic policies – except during the primaries, when he said we’ve made “great progress economically” under George Bush. Or just last month, when he said that the “fundamentals of our economy are strong.” In fact, John McCain is so opposed to George Bush’s policies, that he voted with him 90 percent of the time for the past eight years. That’s right, he decided to really stick it to him – 10 percent of the time.

Well, let’s be clear: John McCain attacking George Bush for his out-of-hand economic policy is like Dick Cheney attacking George Bush for his go-it-alone foreign policy.

Fortunately, President Bush doesn’t seem to be at all offended – because yesterday, he cast his vote – early – for Senator McCain. And that’s no surprise, because when it comes to the policies that matter for middle class families, there’s not an inch of daylight between George Bush and John McCain.

Like George Bush, John McCain wants to keep giving tax breaks to oil companies and CEOs and companies that ship our jobs overseas. It’s the same, failed, Wall Street first/Main Street last economic policy – and we’re going to change it.

Like George Bush, John McCain wants to tax your health care benefits for the first time in history, and let insurance companies keep discriminating against people who need health care the most. It’s the same, failed, insurance company first/your family last health care policy – and we’re going to change it.

Like George Bush, John McCain wants to privatize Social Security – and leave it to the whims of the market. Like George Bush, John McCain ignored this housing crisis until it was too late – and then proposed a $300 billion bailout for Wall Street banks that does hardly anything to help people stay in their homes. Like George Bush, he wants less government regulation of business – he said it again just yesterday, the twenty-first time he’s called for less regulation just this year. Now none of us want to see unnecessary burdens on business. But after what we’ve seen on Wall Street, isn’t it obvious by now that we need some commonsense rules of the road to protect consumers and our economy?

I think we’ve had enough of the Bush-McCain economics. I can take ten more days of John McCain’s attacks, but the American people can’t take four more years of the same failed policies and the same failed politics. We’re not going to let George Bush pass the torch to John McCain. It’s time for change.

The great McCain versus Bush debate, which the current GOP nominee tried to fake up in a last-ditch effort to legitimize his “maverick” and/or “reform” candidacy, is settled.

Barack Obama won it.