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The company they keep

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), a leading anti-immigrant activist who urged Mitt Romney to embrace a "self-deportation" policy, appeared on Glenn Beck's show yesterday and compared immigration-reform advocates to the KKK.

For those who can't watch clips online, Kobach specifically said of proponents of immigration reform, "They're just not wearing white cloaks, but this is exactly KKK type of intimidation."

Now, my first instinct was to suggest these casual KKK comparisons are getting a little out of control on the far-right. But taking a step back, it occurred to me this was at least as interesting as the forum in which Koback made the comment.

Consider another example. Last week, Glenn Beck "convened a meeting with top Republicans" in Washington, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who warned the host that repressive tactics against political dissent in the United States may soon resemble Castro's Cuba, and that Beck himself may someday find himself imprisoned.

Again, the idea is plainly ridiculous, but I'm as interested in what Cruz said as I am in whom he said it to.

Why did Glenn Beck "convene a meeting with top Republicans" in Washington? Why are state and federal lawmakers pushing Beck's conspiracy theories? Why are GOP officials treating Beck's show as a legitimate outlet?

Or put another way, why is there a Glenn Beck wing of the Republican Party in 2013?