For a fringe idea…

FOR A FRINGE IDEA….Independent national pollsters rarely ever ask Americans for their opinions about impeachment. In fact, when Washington Post polling director Richard Morin started receiving questions about it from readers, he got a little snippy about it, and refused to take the questions seriously.

It’s hardly a mystery — the notion of impeaching Bush and/or Cheney is still considered a “fringe” concept that “serious” people are supposed to reject out of hand. And yet, for a radical idea, a surprising number of Americans seem to think impeachment is a good idea. From a new poll conducted by American Research Group, a non-partisan outfit:

* Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush?

Among all U.S. adults, 45% support the House initiating impeachment proceedings against Bush. Among all U.S. voters, impeachment enjoys 46% support, a plurality. In all, 69% of Dems, 50% of independents, and 13% of Republicans say they favor the start of an impeachment process.

* Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney?

Among all U.S. adults, a 54% majority support the House initiating impeachment proceedings against Cheney. Among all U.S. voters, impeachment enjoys 50% support. In all, 76% of Dems, 51% of independents, and 17% of Republicans say they favor the start of an impeachment process.

It’s hard to compare these numbers against other recent polls — news outlets are generally afraid of the “I” question — but once an idea is embraced by nearly half the country, I think it’s probably safe to stop calling it “fringe.”