INHOFE’S VILE RHETORIC KNOWS NO BOUNDS…. Most reasonable people, especially those in positions of authority, would steer clear of someone like the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. Even within the religious right movement, Fischer is known for stomach-churning extremism.

But that didn’t stop Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) from chatting with Fischer on his radio show, and arguing that Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination must be defeated because she might someday rule that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is unconstitutional.

And for Inhofe, that would be unacceptable. DADT is necessary, the clownish senator said, because U.S. servicemembers might no longer do their duty if some of their fellow soldiers are gay.

“For those of us — and I’m one of them — who have gone through the military, gone through basic training, and you stop and think — it just doesn’t make any sense. Second of all, it’s just not working. You have women, men, then you have a third group to deal with, and they’re not equipped to do that.

“And you know — you hear the stories all the time. A military guy — I happen to be Army, and Army and Marines always feel that when we’re out there, we’re not doing it for the flag or the country; we’re doing it for the guy in the next foxhole. And that would dramatically change that.”

There are multiple important angles to this, but let’s focus on two of them. First, that Inhofe considers gay people part of a “third” gender is disgusting, even by his low standards.

Second, Inhofe probably isn’t sharp enough to realize it, but his comments represent a pretty stunning insult towards Americans in uniform. Look at his argument again — U.S. servicemen and women, he says, hate gay people so much, they may disobey orders and let their unit down if they think a gay soldier is in the next foxhole.

I can’t think of the last time a high-profile American politician called the troops’ integrity into question like this.

For what it’s worth, the drive to repeal DADT, Inhofe’s vile rhetoric notwithstanding, has been endorsed this year by President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney. There’s also ample evidence that those who wear the uniform aren’t as hateful as Jim Inhofe thinks they are.

Just this week, Bruce McQuain, a veteran and conservative blogger, wrote, “I’ve thought about [the DADT policy] long and hard. I’ve actually changed my mind from years ago. I guess that’s because I’ve known of and served with soldiers I knew were gay. And every one of them were good soldiers who served honorably and did an excellent job…. Sexual orientation should never be a bar to serving your country honorably in the profession of arms.”

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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.