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From the fringe to the Hill, redux

Associated Press

In all likelihood, federal legislation predicated on fringe conspiracy theories probably won't become law. But I find the bills alarming anyway because I want federal policymakers to take their duties seriously and not propose legislation reflecting paranoid delusions.

Republicans want to limit the number of bullets federal agencies can purchase so American gun owners can buy more.

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas have introduced a bill that would prohibit every government agency -- except the military -- from buying more ammunition each month, than the monthly average it purchased from 2001 to 2009.

To appreciate just how nutty the issue is, consider this tidbit: the National Rifle Association has already urged its members not to take the conspiracy theories seriously. "Skepticism of government is healthy. But today, there are more than enough actual threats to the Second Amendment to keep gun owners busy… there is no need to invent additional threats to our rights," the gun group wrote about the ammunition story.

But even after the NRA gave the administration a pass on this one, right-wing lawmakers don't care, and they're hearing from constituents who are afraid the Obama administration is (a) stockpiling bullets to be used against Americans; (b) buying up ammunition to keep bullets from the hands of civilians; or (c) both.

This is truly, deeply nutty, and yet we now have federal lawmakers holding hearings on the conspiracy theory and proposing legislation to address the conspiracy theory.

This really isn't healthy. Perhaps guys like Inhofe and Lucas know better, and they're offering this bill to pander to the paranoid, making the bill little more than a cynical public relations stunt. Or maybe some far-right Republican lawmakers really have gone off the deep end, and they no longer know the difference between Grown-Up Governing and the Beck/Jones fringe.

Either way, it's hard not to feel a little uncomfortable with the recent developments.

As Rachel explained on the show on Friday night:

"Conspiracy theories are not new. They are not even the exclusive providence of the American Right. There are left-wing conspiracy theories too. But right now anti-government conspiracy theories are anti- the Obama government. And that appears to be too convenient and too appealing for the supposedly mainstream right to leave un-harvested. And so the fringe has become the center.

"And so the Republican chairman of Homeland Security Committee is writing conspiracy theory letters about the 'real' bomber, and they're convening conspiracy theory hearings, and Republican senators are introducing conspiracy theory legislation that actually posits that the government is stockpiling bullets so they it can kill us all.

"And they're doing it upon the advice from the folks who say that the Newtown shooting was a hoax, it didn't really happen, and Michelle Obama is shielding the real bomber of the Boston Marathon, because it was an inside job, just like 9/11. I get that the guys who sell this stuff for a living, have a reason to sell this stuff.

"There's always going to be a very, very, very excited market for these things. But when a political party sees profit, when a political party decides to seek political advantage, by trafficking in this stuff, and courting it and popularizing it, that is a different thing and I am not sure we know how that ends."