It was a heartwarming story — inspirational, in fact, in a “you’ve got to be kidding me” sort of way. If we didn’t know better, we would have to conclude that members of Maine’s Legislature are engaged in a veritable bipartisan lovefest.

The operative phrase here, unfortunately, is “if we didn’t know better.”

You may have read about it in the paper last week. The top legislative leaders, Republican and Democrat, attended a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and regaled the audience at Waterville’s Thomas College with tales of legislative accomplishments fueled by civil discourse and mutual admiration.

“One of our hallmarks has been constructive bipartisanship,” said Senate President Kevin Raye.

Who would have guessed? The cherished practice of bipartisanship that has been declared dead in virtually every other jurisdiction in America is alive and well in Maine — which is now the world’s leading bastion of political cooperation and legislative efficiency.

Puh-leeze! That sound you hear is a chorus of cynics gagging on their whoopie pies from one end of Maine to the other.

OK, folks, take it easy. We’ll admit that we’re laying on the sarcasm a little thick here. After all, Republicans and Democrats did finally come together to pass a congressional redistricting plan in a special legislative session last month, and they did swallow their pride long enough to adopt a state budget earlier this year.

The legislators conducted themselves well enough, in fact, to earn a grade of B for “deportment” when we published our legislative report card in July.

But the self-congratulations they served up at the chamber breakfast seemed a little hard to swallow, considering that almost anything one party says or does at the State House generates a flurry of insulting press releases and accusatory statements from the other side.

Even the much-trumpeted budget, impressively passed by a two-thirds bipartisan majority, provoked partisan indignation among legislators who disagreed with some of its provisions.

House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, spoke at the chamber event and conceded that philosophical differences sometimes strain relationships under the dome, but added, “We’re still friends at the end of the day.”

Cain’s Republican friends must have wondered if they had any need for enemies when she blasted them repeatedly for the tax cuts they insisted on including in the budget. And vice versa, when Republicans accused the Democrats of being unreasonable during the redistricting debate.

The truth is, bipartisanship is an elusive goal in any political environment and today’s overheated climate in Washington, D.C., has perhaps made it more elusive than ever before.

Some folks, in and out of the political arena, might argue that it’s not even a goal worth pursuing because bipartisanship leads to compromise and “compromise” is just another word for “surrender.”

For our part, we still believe that bipartisanship is a good thing. And we’re encouraged that Maine’s legislative leaders are working to achieve inter-party cooperation — even if they’re not quite as good at it as they think they are.