THE COMPANY THEY KEEP…. From time to time, if Democratic Party leaders/officials appear at a progressive event, there will be pushback from the right. Democratic VIPs, the argument goes, shouldn’t associate themselves with the likes of, Democracy for America, or Yearly Kos.

It’s amusing, of course, because the left’s agenda tends to be pretty mainstream, and there’s no reason for Dems to keep the progressive base at arm’s length. But it also raises a related point: it’s exceedingly difficult for a conservative to be too crazy for the Republican Party.

Take the big right-wing gathering St. Louis today, for example.

For weeks now, we have been posting on the How To Take Back America Conference and the utter insanity that has long plagued the hosts of the conference, wondering why on earth Republican leaders like Mike Huckabee or Reps. Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Tom Price, Tom McClintock and Trent Franks are inexcusably lending credibility to this event and to its organizers.

To put this upcoming conference into perspective, let us put it this way: If you thought last week’s Values Voter Summit — where speakers called for public abortions, claimed that pornography turns you gay, proclaimed that gays and liberal Christians are enemies of God who deserve to be struck down, and announced that they had been chosen by God to stand for truth and suffer the consequences – was crazy … well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

And so we have pulled together our years of monitoring of the people and organizations behind the upcoming How To Take Back America Conference and put it all together in our latest Right Wing Watch In Focus, entitled “Why Are GOP Officials Embracing Extremists at Upcoming ‘How to Take Back America’ Conference?

Why, indeed. The radicals running the How To Take Back America Conference are so nutty, you’d think GOP lawmakers and leaders would want nothing to do with them.

Take Janet Folger Porter, for example, who’s helping run the event. Porter, a leading right-wing activist and talk-show host, believes the United States is “cursed” for having elected President Obama, who took office as the result of a communist conspiracy. She’s told her audience that the H1N1 flu vaccine is really a nefarious plot by the government to kill millions of Americans, and that the Obama administration is creating internment camps for conservatives.

Porter is just one of the truly unhinged conservatives who helped make this weekend’s event a reality, along with other nutty activists like Phyllis Schlafly, Joseph Farah, Mat Staver, and Rick Scarborough.

Are Republicans keeping their distance? Some are, some aren’t. Four sitting Republican members of Congress — Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Steve King (Iowa), Tom Price (Ga.), and Tom McClintock (Calif.) — will be addressing the conference today. Former presidential candidate and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) will headline the event this evening.

And no one seems to think much of it. There’s an odd expectation that Republican officials will hang out with obviously insane right-wing activists, so it’s not at all controversial for members of Congress to show up at an event like this one. Indeed, it’s entirely ignored by the media because it seems so routine.

The How To Take Back America Conference doesn’t have a liberal equivalent, but I suspect if radicals on the left threw a shindig like this one, and four Democratic members of Congress and a Democratic presidential candidate showed up, it’d generate a little more interest.

***Rep. Bachman’s name has been corrected. –Mod

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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.