THEY JUST CAN’T STOP…. Yesterday, we talked about the fact that there’s simply no interest at all in bringing the “fairness doctrine” back, and yet, it’s become something of an obsession among conservatives. TNR’s Marin Cogan had a great piece, highlighting the campaign against a non-existent initiative, and explaining, “The prospect of being in the opposition often brings out the worst in conservatives — paranoia and self-pity.”

Right on cue, Bill O’Reilly devoted two — count ’em, two — parts of his Fox News program last night to denouncing the imaginary effort to bring back to the fairness doctrine. Jason Linkins noted the conversation between O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham on the subject, and on the same program, O’Reilly devoted his “talking points” segment to attacking non-existent Democratic efforts to bring the policy back. (As O’Reilly explains it, Speaker Pelosi wants “total control” over the media. There’s that paranoia again.)

I’ve had a few emails from readers on this, many noting that this shouldn’t be especially surprising — far-right leaders mislead their followers about progressive policy ideas all the time. Fair enough.

But this does seem a little different than the usual palaver. Yglesias noted yesterday:

It’s very strange. Political movements mischaracterize the other side’s general goals all the time. But I’ve never heard of anything like the current conservative mania for blocking a particular legislative provision that nobody is trying to enact.

Exactly. Republicans tend to lie about legislation and policy ideas Democrats want to pass, not legislation and policy ideas they don’t care about.

That said, as one emailer told me yesterday, when the next two years go by, and there’s no activity at all on the fairness doctrine, conservative activists will take credit for having stop this dreaded effort to squelch free speech before it could become law.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.