INHOFE GETS HYSTERICAL (AGAIN)…. I often feel bad for Americans who are represented by lawmakers who’ve gone mad. When folks who don’t know better hear a U.S. senator insist publicly that something is true, they might not realize their elected official is a nut. The deceptive argument necessarily comes with some credibility, by virtue of the office. (So-and-so can’t be completely crazy; he’s a senator.)

Take Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), for example, who reportedly told a group of constituents the other day that President Obama intends to let “hard-core terrorists” run “loose in the United States.”

“There are 245 hard-core terrorists that would be turned loose in the United States and one of the locations where they would be putting them is Fort Sill,” Inhofe told a gathering of constituents, according to the Ada Evening News. “You turn these people loose and they become magnets for terrorism all over the country.”

Now, those constituents may not realize that Inhofe is mad as a hatter, and that his claims are ridiculous. No one is talking about turning terrorists loose in the country. Inhofe may or may not realize this — the poor guy is pretty far gone — but it’s clearly an argument detached from reality.

But what about those Oklahomans who don’t know this? It’s not like Inhofe walks around with a reality-based fact-checker at all times (now there’s an idea…), helping audiences separate fact from fiction. For them, there’s at least a possibility that the president intends to let hard-core terrorists loose in our country. There might be at least something to this, they might assume, since a long-time U.S. Senator just told them it’s true. (The local newspaper covering Inhofe’s speech ran the senator’s quotes, but made no effort to tell the reader why the quotes are wrong.)

Inhofe added that the president, after just three months in office, has already “completely devastated” the U.S. military, in part because the president “just doesn’t believe that we need a military.”

Inhofe neglected to mention that Obama plans to increase military spending from $513 billion under Bush to $534 billion in 2010. It probably just slipped his mind.

Steve Benen

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.