FOLLOW THE LEADER…. The day before the closely-watched special election in New York’s 23rd, Doug Hoffman decided to take some time to check in with his friend Glenn Beck.

It is not a casual connection. Lee Fang explained that Hoffman is one of a small number of congressional candidates to pledge his “sacred honor” to “uphold Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project principles in Congress.”

And on Beck’s radio show today, Hoffman continued to toe the line, assuring the host that he doesn’t believe that climate change is “totally” the result of human activity. It prompted the host to proclaim, “He’s getting stronger, there it is, every second.”

It led to this rather striking exchange:

HOFFMAN: I have good mentors here.

GLENN: Wait, wait. Wait, wait. Are they mentors that will show…

HOFFMAN: I’m talking about you, Glenn.

GLENN: Oh, okay. I was going to say all right, as long as they are standing out from the shadows. […]

HOFFMAN: No. Yeah, well, I’m going to keep in touch with people like you so I don’t get infected with that disease.

So, the leading congressional candidate in New York’s 23rd considers a deranged, self-described “rodeo clown” his “mentor”?

I guess Michele Bachmann and Steve King won’t be lonely in the House Mad as a Hatter Caucus meetings.

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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.