John McCain, who had never been a Maverick until he returned to being a Maverick just a few weeks ago, has won Washington's juiciest prize: America's Most Conservative Senator. At least according to whatever algorithm National Journal uses to crap out such scores.

John McCain changed most of the positions he had, especially on immigration and energy, to win his reelection in 2010, the calendar year that NJ's rankings cover. His most spectacular performance was in leading the charge against repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in December's lame duck session, when it looked like he might spontaneously combust or punch an admiral in the groin. Instead, he just lost.

And here's his reward!

The politician who once best exemplified the idea of a "maverick" independent has shifted so far to the right that he is now tied for the title of the Senate's most conservative member, according to National Journal's 2010 vote ratings.

According to a comprehensive examination of 96 Senate votes taken in 2010, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., along with seven of his colleagues, voted most often on the conservative side. His 89.7 composite conservative score ties him with stalwarts like Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and gives him a more conservative score than Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

Finally, the Tea Party has found its natural leader.

[Image via AP]