Here’s how I know that Barney Frank’s re-election race is tighter than he’d like.

Yesterday I asked him some questions. I was bracing to get hammered by his reply.

This time, though, he didn’t tell me I was asking something dumb. He didn’t get mad. He didn’t lecture me on what I should be asking instead.

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What’s up? My guess: Barney’s on good behavior because the country’s angry. Lots of voters in his typically adoring 4th District are angry too.

So he’s taking no chances with Marine Reservist challenger Sean Bielat of Brookline who sounds reasonable and earnest, who looks all spit and polish on TV and who hopes to tie the financial collapse around the neck of Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

“I don’t think there’s been a single event I’ve gone to where that hasn’t come up,” said Bielat yesterday about Frank’s role in the meltdown. He also said Frank’s campaigning hard now – Bill Clinton came to town for him Sunday – because Frank “has seen the same thing in his internal polling that we’ve seen in ours.”

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That is, said Bielat, a momentum shift – toward him.

So was the Clinton invite “desperate,” I asked Frank. No, he replied, talking a mile a minute. He said he thought of inviting Clinton at least six weeks ago.

How much of the Fannie and Freddie mess was his fault?

Almost diplomatically, Frank explained that he’s been the target of “mostly inaccurate” attacks by the likes of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

Read More: By Margery Eagan, Boston Herald