SOME FOLKS CAN’T TAKE A JOKE…. In some right-wing circles, there’s a belief that Barack Obama’s first book, “Dreams From My Father,” was actually ghost-written by Bill Ayers. It wasn’t, of course, but like the rest of the bizarre conservative conspiracy theories, reality doesn’t much matter.

Birthers, meet Ghosters. The overlap is considerable.

National Journal caught up with Ayers at a book festival recently, and the ’60s-era radical decided to have a little fun at the right wing’s expense.

When [Ayers] finished speaking, we put the authorship question [on “Dreams From My Father”] right to him. For a split second, Ayers was nonplussed. Then an Abbie Hoffmanish, steal-this-book-sort-of-smile lit up his face. He gently took National Journal by the arm. “Here’s what I’m going to say. This is my quote. Be sure to write it down: ‘Yes, I wrote Dreams From My Father. I ghostwrote the whole thing. I met with the president three or four times, and then I wrote the entire book.’” He released National Journal’s arm, and beamed in Marxist triumph. “And now I would like the royalties.”

He pulled the same gag soon after with a conservative blogger.

In general, Ayers joking around about a silly conspiracy theory wouldn’t be especially noteworthy, but as Dave Weigel reports, a surprising number of conservatives took Ayers seriously.

People he’s duped so far: Jonah Goldberg, his mother Lucianne Goldberg, Tom Maguire, Dennis Byrne, Carol Platt Lieblau, and a bunch of other conservatives, some of whom try to split the difference by suggesting that Ayers is revealing a little bit of truth behind the sarcasm. How embarrassing.

Ron Chusid added, “The gullibility of conservatives, or more precisely their willingness to believe without bothering to fact check anything which confirms their biases, is amazing…. [T]hose guys will believe anything if it fits into their narrow worldview.”

Now that the Washington Post and New York Times have taken a special interest in what right-wing voices are concerned about, I hope the papers are paying close attention here: a few too many on the right have poor critical thinking skills and will run with any story they hope is true.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.