ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE…. I suppose it was bound to happen eventually, though I’d hoped it wouldn’t. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, during an official press briefing, was actually asked about the Birther conspiracy nuts.

I’m fairly certain it was Bill Press, a liberal talk-show host, who asked Gibbs, “Is there anything you can say to make the Birthers go away?”

I more or less expected Gibbs to dismiss the question out of hand, unwilling to dignify the stupidity from the podium, and by some measures, maybe he should have. But Gibbs is no doubt aware of the media’s coverage of the “story,” and perhaps concluded he might as well get it over with (at least until the next time he’s asked to address the matter).

“No,” the press secretary said in response to Press’ question. “The God’s honest truth is, no…. I almost hate to indulge in such an august setting as the White House … discussing the made up, fictional nonsense of whether the president was born in this country.” Gibbs added that putting the birth certificate online during the campaign was his idea, assuming there would be nothing else to talk about once the materials were online for the world to see.

“Nothing,” Gibbs said, “will assuage” the activists who choose to believe insane conspiracy theories.

Asked why the nonsense continues, Gibbs concluded, “Because for $15 you can get an Internet address and say whatever you want.”

So there you have it. A demonstrably ridiculous, not-so-subtly racist smear can work its way from a right-wing chain email, to conservative blogs, to Fox News, to Republican members of Congress, to a question in the White House briefing room, answered by the spokesperson for the President of the United States.

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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.