FURTHER BLURRING THE LINES…. I continue to be fascinated by the shrinking differences between the nutty, right-wing fringe and the Republican establishment. Lee Fang flagged this gem yesterday.

Last Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) joined radical conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his radio talk show for an interview. Jones has made a name for himself propagating conspiracies ranging from the claim that Bill Clinton planned the Oklahoma City bombings to the idea that the attacks on 9/11 were orchestrated by a cabal of American and Israeli government officials.

During the 30-minute interview about “nation ending stuff,” Gohmert used his opportunity on the Jones show to showcase his own odd anti-Obama conspiracy theories.

Gohmert was on quite a roll, insisting that health care reform will “absolutely kill senior citizens,” because the government will put older Americans on a list and then “force them to die early.” He added that the government will also control what Americans eat and where we can live.

When Jones, compared current events to Hitler and Mao, the Republican Texan replied, “Well that’s exactly what I was thinking of. This is the kind of the thing we got to stop.” Gohmert went on to praise the fringe talk-show host for being “on top of things.”

Now, I don’t much care what these obviously unhinged conservatives have to say. What’s fascinating to me, though, is the fact that there was no real difference between them. Generally, politicians try to keep radicals and fringe activists at arm’s length. If a politician runs into a nut in public, he/she tries to avoid making eye contact, and scurries away as quickly as possible.

But here’s an elected member of Congress, voluntarily appearing on a notorious extremist’s radio show, as if this were a normal thing to do. They two swapped insane conspiracy theories casually, as if radical nonsense were as commonplace as discussing the weather.

The line, in other words, between the member of Congress and the fanatic simply didn’t exist. What’s more, because right-wing extremism has become mainstream in conservative circles, there are no consequences for Gohmert’s rhetoric or appearance. It’s just what GOP officials do in the early part of the 21st century.

Lawmakers, right-wing shock-jocks, Fox News personalities, conservative bloggers, major publications on the right — they’re all largely on the same page, without a sense of shame or limits, and they’re all spouting transparent nonsense.

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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.