Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have a man crush on Rand Paul.

 Yes, it’s enough to drive me to confession: Every day I find myself agreeing more and more with the libertarian senator from Kentucky. He may be running for president as a Republican, but he says some things that any liberal Democrat like me could support.

 Who’s the leading champion to shut down NSA’s vast phone spying operation? Not some liberal Democrat. It’s Rand Paul! With a 10½-hour filibuster, he single-handedly blocked last week’s Senate effort to extend the Patriot Act, which he calls ‘the most unpatriotic of acts.’

 On the environment, Paul admits: ‘You’ll find I’m a tree hugger, literally. I’m a Republican who wants clean air, clean water and the life-extending miracle of electricity. I compost.’

 On drug sentencing, Paul channels former Attorney General Eric Holder: ‘We should free those who are in jail under the old guidelines. Our prisons are bursting with young men — and women — who are poor or of color.’

 One other sign of Paul’s willingness to buck the official party line: In December 2014, when President Obama announced plans to restore normal relations with Cuba, Rand Paul stood with Obama, saying the embargo no longer made any sense.

 Paul drives fellow Republicans crazy. John McCain has called him a ‘wacko bird.’ Gov. Bobby Jindal branded him ‘unfit to be commander-in-chief.’ And Bill Kristol, influential publisher of The Weekly Standard, grumbled that Paul ‘wants to be a liberal Democrat.’

 No doubt about it, Rand Paul’s a card-carrying Republican conservative. He wants to repeal Obamacare, privatize Medicare, increase the Pentagon budget and slash social spending. He’s a climate change denier, and one of 47 Republicans who signed a letter warning the leaders of Iran against making a nuclear deal with President Obama.

 Still, Rand Paul is honest enough to say: ‘Right now, the Republican brand sucks.’ No wonder I have such a man crush on him. But I’d feel a lot less guilty — if only he’d run as a Democrat.

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