Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson hit the Sunday morning show circuit with gusto to sell the administration’s massive wall street bailout plan.

His basic message:  If Congress doesn’t authorize the government to purchase upwards of $500 billion in toxic loans from financial institutions that are teetering on collapse, it could plunge the world economy into depression.

It was sobering and frank language from Paulson, and was meant to put the Congress on notice:  don’t screw around with this; don’t lard up this bailout package with partisan add-ons; don’t put your petty congressional interests ahead of the nation’s.

Nobody likes the idea of a trillion dollar bailout.  It stinks, plain and simple.  And it’s fair game for Congress to demand new regulations, oversight, and executive compensation provisions, and perhaps tinker with the bankruptcy laws to help struggling homeowners.

But I hope Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid don’t overplay their hands and snuff this thing out.  As Paulson noted this morning, we’re not out of the woods yet; the credit markets remain essentially frozen, and without massive government intervention we’re only days away from a total meltdown.

Both Pelosi and Reid have made noise about not handing a “blank check” to Paulson.  Fine.  But don’t screw this up.  They’re playing with fire if they derail this bailout with their typical Congressional shenanigans.  And it could impact the election.

Home Politics Note to Reid and Pelosi: don't screw this up