WHEN BILL O’REILLY IS THE VOICE OF REASON…. One of the right’s more disgusting habits is exploiting violent tragedies for ideological gain. After the shootings at Virginia Tech, Newt Gingrich blamed liberals’ “situation ethics” for the tragedy. After the shootings in Arvada, Colo., the Family Research Council blamed the “secular media” for the rampage. After Columbine, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay took to the floor to blame public school science classes for teaching young people that “they are nothing but glorified apes who are evolutionized [sic] out of some primordial soup.” Just 48 hours after 9/11, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blamed liberals for “helping this happen.”

And on Tuesday, a man named Michael McLendon shot and killed 10 people in Alabama before turning the gun on himself. It’s unclear what, if anything, led to the rampage, but on Fox News yesterday, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly tossed around an idea on the subject.

BECK: But as I’m listening to [the description of McLendon]. I’m thinking about the American people that feel disenfranchised right now. That feel like nobody’s hearing their voice. The government isn’t hearing their voice. Even if you call, they don’t listen to you on both sides. If you’re a conservative, you’re called a racist. You want to starve children.


BECK: Yada yada yada. And every time they do speak out, they’re shut down by political correctness. How do you not have those people turn into that guy?

O’REILLY: Well, look, nobody, even if they’re frustrated, is going to hurt another human being unless they’re mentally ill. I think.

BECK: I think pushed to the wall, you don’t think people get pushed to the wall?

O’Reilly said he didn’t buy it. Let’s pause to appreciate how extraordinary it is to see Bill O’Reilly serve as the voice of reason.

As for Beck, just how deranged must one be to think ‘political correctness” pushed a madman to go on a shooting rampage and kill 10 people? For that matter, just how far gone does a cable network have to be to give a nut like Beck a platform to broadcast lunacy?

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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.