Michael Scott has left Dunder Mifflin and is representing Indiana in the U.S. Senate.

At least that’s what it sounded like when Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., decided to discuss diversity during Tuesday night’s Senate debate. Listen to his remarks and watch for the cringeworthy conjunction:

There are at least two explanations for that type of sentence structure, and both have ramifications for the moderate Democrat holding on for dear life in deep red Indiana.

The uncharitable take first: innate racism. Donnelly displayed the soft bigotry of low expectations when he insisted that his minority Senate staffers still do good work — despite their race. He clearly has one set of expectations for whites and another for people of color. This would be the automatic assumption if he were a Republican, naturally.

The pretty understandable interpretation second: An awkward gaffe. He said something dumb. Donnelly is trailing in a state Trump swept by double digits, and Donnelly slipped up while trying to compliment his team. It isn’t fair to judge the character of the man based off of one awkward exchange. He slipped up.

Voters will choose from the two options above when they vote in just six days. But if the write-up of the debate in the Indianapolis Star is any indication, they probably won’t be voting according to the senator’s vocabulary. When reporter Kaitlin Lange reported on the eight most important takeaways from the debate, a list that included things like healthcare and tariffs, she didn’t even mention this.

Which brings us back to Michael Scott, the lovable idiot boss from NBC’s “The Office.” Like that dunce did often, Donnelly made a dumb remark last night. By all accounts, though, he was well-meaning. It doesn't imply that he has a deep-seated racist streak. To invent one out of thin air based off one remark would be a stretch. My guess is that Indiana gives him a pass on this, which is only fair. But he's lucky he's a Democrat, because the media would treat this very differently if he weren't.