For the last couple of years, Paul Ryan has been touted by everyone in the Republican party as a star, a smart, telegenic up-and-comer who represents the future of the party. Worship of Ryan probably reached its apogee last May, when Newt Gingrich began his presidential campaign by calling Ryan's budget "right-wing social engineering" (among other things, Ryan's budget slashed benefits for the poor, cut taxes for the rich, and privatized Medicare). The condemnation of Gingrich's words from conservatives was so immediate and so furious that you would have thought Gingrich had spat on a picture of Jesus or insulted Ronald Reagan Himself.
Ryan is, among other things, a longtime fan of Ayn Rand, the philosopher/novelist/quasi-cult leader whose philosophy of radical selfishness and vision of heroic capitalists being held down by the parasitic masses is, one can argue, well reflected in Ryan's work. It wasn't some kind of secret—Ryan has said, "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand." He has recorded videos praising Rand—here's one where he says, "Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism." In 2003 he told the Weekly Standard, "I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it."
Ever since Ryan came to national attention, liberals have been trying to get people to notice Ryan's appreciation for Rand, with only marginal success. But some kind of switch has obviously gone off for Ryan because he's now claiming that his appreciation for Rand is nothing but an "urban legend":