THEY DON’T DESERVE ENCOURAGEMENT…. There’s a Politico item today on Republican lawmakers being forced to deal with fringe conspiracy theorists who insist the president wasn’t born in the United States, reality notwithstanding. Apparently, for GOP officials, this has become something of a nuisance — they can’t hold a town-hall meeting without having to endure questions from these nutty activists.

It’s become more relevant to lawmakers now, in part because some in the media keep publicizing the lunacy, and in part because lawmakers will be heading home soon for their August recess, when they’ll likely have to confront this stupidity. Many are apparently preparing their answers now.

At least one U.S. senator, however, is sounding a sympathetic note about the Birthers.

Sen. Jim Inhofe has also tried to find the elusive middle ground.

“They have a point,” he said of the birthers. “I don’t discourage it. … But I’m going to pursue defeating [Obama] on things that I think are very destructive to America.”

That’s not “middle ground.” That’s just ridiculous.

There should be a clear and distinct line between fringe lunatics and the beliefs of U.S. senators. That Inhofe thinks Birthers “have a point” suggests that line is blurring in unhealthy ways.

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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.