BLAMING MADDOW FOR RAND PAUL’S EXTREMISM…. This week, Rand Paul explained his opposition to the Civil Rights Act in a variety of media settings. Today, former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said it’s time to point the finger where it belongs: at Rachel Maddow. After all, the MSNBC host had the nerve to provide Paul with a platform, and then — get this — ask the Senate candidate about his stated views on government.

“One thing we can learn in this lesson that I have learned and Rand Paul is learning now is don’t assume that you can engage in a hypothetical discussion about constitutional impacts with a reporter or a media personality who has an agenda, who may be prejudiced before they even get into the interview in regards to what your answer may be,” Palin said [on “Fox News Sunday”]. “You know, they are looking for the gotcha moment. And that evidently appears to be what they did with Rand Paul, and I’m thankful he clarified his answer about his support for the Civil Rights Act.”

Paul sparked several days worth of controversial coverage when he suggested to Maddow that the government had meddled too far into private enterprise in the passage of the Civil Rights Act and other legislation.

As a rule, it’s pointless to seriously consider arguments from such a conspicuously unintelligent person. But Palin isn’t the only one to suggest this week that it’s somehow Rachel’s fault that Rand Paul has radical beliefs.

So, here are some follow-up questions for the former half-term governor and her cohorts to consider:

* When Rand Paul was asked about his opposition to the Civil Rights Act weeks ago by the editorial board of the Courier Review-Journal, did this have something to do with Rachel Maddow’s “agenda”? How about when Paul made the same remarks to NPR before appearing on MSNBC? Was it all one elaborate conspiracy?

* While explaining his opposition to the Fair Housing Act, Rand Paul wrote in 2002 that “a free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination, even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin.” Was his concession the result of media “prejudice”?

* While campaigning for like-minded allies in 2008, Rand Paul warned of efforts to create a “NAFTA Superhighway,” which doesn’t exist in reality, and raised the specter of a “North American Union’s” embrace of the “Amero,” which is limited to overactive right-wing imaginations. Did Rachel Maddow make Paul spew nonsensical conspiracy theories two years ago?

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.