‘DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A TERRORIST?’…. If you missed it, this campaign ad from Republican Dan Fanelli, hoping to take on Rep. Alan Grayson (D) in Florida this year, is one of the more startling commercials of the year so far.

If you can’t watch clips from your work computer, the spot shows Fanelli standing next to a white guy. Looking into the camera, the Republican asks, “Does this look like a terrorist?” He then stands next to a big, darker guy and ads, “Or this”? Fanelli concludes that if someone who looked like him “was flying airplanes into the Twin Towers, I’d have no problem being pulled out of line at the airport.”

It is, in other words, a campaign ad for a congressional candidate who wants to go to Washington to fight in support of racial profiling. That’s not just some random position he articulated in a questionnaire; this is Fanelli’s platform.

The first thing that jumped out at me about this ad? Fanelli argues that people who look like him — middle-aged, balding white guy — don’t fly airplanes into buildings, and therefore shouldn’t have to endure security screenings at airports. That’s idiotic on its face, but it’s especially disconnected to reality now — did the Republican not hear about the middle-aged, balding white guy, who looks quite a bit like Fanelli, who recently flew an airplane into a building?

For that matter, I can only hope someone would show Fanelli a picture of Timothy McVeigh and ask, “Does this look like a terrorist?”

As for the substance, this guy has no idea what he’s talking about. Adam Serwer explained, “[R]acial profiling isn’t any more effective than random screening. So rather than making anyone safer, you’re just alienating the communities a former CIA analyst and chief of intelligence analysis for the Department of Homeland Security under the Bush administration has said are themselves ‘the only way’ to really counter domestic radicalization.”

I can’t say whether Fanelli has a chance at winning his race and joining the House Republican caucus, but he’s certainly has a chance at winning an award for creating one of the year’s most offensive ads.

Steve Benen

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.