BIRTHERS AND BILLBOARDS…. If the left were drawing up a script for the right to follow, which would make conservatives look hopelessly ridiculous, they might come up with something like this. (via John Cole)

The electoral system has failed to satisfy lingering questions about Barack Obama’s eligibility to serve as president.

The press has failed to satisfy those questions. The courts have failed to satisfy those questions. The Congress has failed to satisfy those questions.

But the people are still asking.

That’s how Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, explains the petition he initiated several months ago that has collected nearly 400,000 names of Americans demanding answers as to Obama’s elidibility [sic] as well as the outpouring of financial support for his new campaign to erect billboards around the country asking the simple question: “Where’s the birth certificate?”

In just five days, the billboard campaign has been backed by about $45,000 in donations.

Obviously, the Birthers’ argument is nuts. But the fact that they’re still at it, seven months after the election, is extraordinary.

For Democrats, it’s extraordinarily helpful, in large part because it makes the president’s detractors appear insane. Former Clinton White House press secretary Jake Siewert said a few months ago, “At some level, they’re not that bad to have around because it reminds people that under the mainstream conservative press there’s this bubbling up of really irrational hatred for the guy.”

But that’s just among those who hear about this. As DougJ noted, there’s the inconvenient fact that most Americans will see a billboard that reads, “Where’s the birth certificate?” and won’t have the foggiest idea what that means.

That the right-wing website claims to have raised “about $45,000 in donations” is especially great for Democrats, since that means $45,000 from far-right donors that won’t go to something that might actually matter.

For the left in general, it’s a win-win: unhinged conservatives waste their time on a silly exercise, devoting time and money to a campaign that only makes the right look even more wacky. The DNC ought to send WND a thank-you note.

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.