When we checked a month ago, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) was publicly disagreeing with Donald Trump roughly once a week.
Now, Ryan's average is just under 11 days. And apparently that's good enough for Ryan to say he thinks Trump is improving as a presidential candidate.
"Now Donald, I think, has gotten much more disciplined,” Ryan said in an interview Thursday with conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt. Ryan was crediting Trump's new campaign manager, GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, with the change: "I think Kellyanne is a breath of fresh air for his campaign, and I think she has brought some good discipline to the campaign on message."
Ryan seemed to be weighing the relatively few times in recent days that Trump has gone off script to say something controversial, forcing Ryan to whack another chip into the fraying log that is his and Trump's relationship.
But this is a classic case of controlling your expectations.
Since reluctantly endorsing Trump in June, the longest Ryan has gone without having to comment on something Trump said was 21 days. (A week of that was taken up by the Republican National Convention, where Trump said very little.)
Until Thursday, Ryan had gone 30 whole days. (You could argue that number would have been much lower if Ryan had chimed in on Trump's widely panned claim during the August break that Obama "founded" the Islamic State.)
But the average number of days Ryan has gotten a break from having to speak out against something Trump has said hasn't changed much. It's roughly 11, up from eight and a half from the last time we calculated it almost a month ago. My Fix colleague Philip Bump has visualized their disagreements since Ryan endorsed Trump in June:
We say "until Thursday," because as of this writing, Republicans' "days without an accident" clock is back to zero. Once again, Ryan had to publicly disagree with Trump. This time, it was a frequent bone of contention between the two: whether Russian President Vladimir Putin is "wonderful" (Trump) or "a thug" (Ryan).
Calculations aside, we get where Ryan is coming from in praising Trump's discipline. Trump's new management — Conway has worked for comparatively traditional politicians such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) — and his relative quiet streak must have given Ryan a glimmer of hope that he is indeed becoming a better (read: less controversial) candidate.
But the speaker's public optimism may be misplaced. What I wrote in August, when Ryan went as little as three days between Trump-lit fires, still applies now:
Ryan and other Republican politicians repeatedly say they hope Trump will change. That he'll become more politician-y. That he'll stick to a script and champion more conservative policies and studiously avoid the temptation to say something that dominates the news cycle, takes away attention from Hillary Clinton and her emails and forces Republicans to be in the unprecedented situation of regularly rebuking their own presidential nominee.
But Trump won't change. Trump is Trump. And he's done nothing but spend the past  days — and counting — taking a jackhammer to Republicans' construction site to prove it.
This latest Russia spat, and the fact that Ryan and Trump have now gone exactly zero days without disagreeing with each other, proves my point.