Not a good week in Arizona

NOT A GOOD WEEK IN ARIZONA…. The Grand Canyon State appears to have fallen in a deep political hole.

Less than a week ago, the state Senate in Arizona approved an odious immigration measure, which, among other things, makes it a crime to lack proper immigration paperwork in the state, and “requires police officers, if they form a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person’s immigration status.” Arizonans would be eligible for arrest if an officer thinks they might be an illegal immigrant and can’t prove otherwise.

Yesterday, the far-right push took another ugly turn, with Arizona’s state House advancing a “birther” bill.

The so-called birther bill won initial approval from the state House on Monday, advancing legislation that would require presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate before they can be on the ballot in Arizona.

The bill originated from a group that believes President Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the U.S. and is ineligible to be president.

Rep. Judy Burges amended Senate Bill 1024 to include a requirement that Arizona’s secretary of state inspect a presidential candidate’s birth certificate before that candidate could qualify for the ballot.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, a Republican, isn’t sure if the proposal is even legal, since state-level requirements for a federal office are inherently suspect.

But substance aside, the fact that fringe lunacy is being taken seriously at this level suggests a strain of contemporary Republican thought that’s gone stark raving mad.

For what it’s worth, this nonsense still has some major hurdles to clear before becoming law in Arizona. The state House voted to add the measure to another piece of legislation yesterday, and is yet to formally approve it. The “birther” bill would also still need support from the state Senate and Gov. Jan Brewer (R).

Nevertheless, the effort itself, and its progress, is an embarrassment.