Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning was never the face of Senate Republicans, but Politico has a story on how Bunning’s blockage of an extension for unemployment benefits could blow up on the GOP.

Bunning is opposing the $10 billion aid package on the grounds that it isn’t paid for — effectively forcing his Republican colleagues to join him or risk undercutting their own efforts to make Democrats’ deficit spending a centerpiece of their 2010 campaign.

As news of Bunning’s one-man filibuster dominated TV news Monday, Republicans on Capitol Hill were growing increasingly irritated — angry that they were put in a political jam by a retiring Republican senator who has little concern for party politics.

And even some who were sympathetic to Bunning’s efforts sensed the risk that comes with them.

Asked whether this was a debate his party wanted to have right now, with the jobless rate hovering near 10 percent, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) smiled and said: “You’re a pretty smart guy — I’ll let you use your own judgment on that.”

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“I think it is pretty clear that Jim Bunning is marching to the beat of his own drum,” said John Feehery, a Washington-based GOP strategist.

Republicans hope to resolve Bunning’s concerns this week so that they can get back to hammering the Democrats on health care. But Bunning has shown few signs of budging; when an ABC News producer tried to talk with the senator Monday, he flipped him the middle finger instead.

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