BONUS POINTS FOR CREATIVITY…. On Monday, Al Gore had an item criticizing BP for denying journalists access along the Gulf Coast. A photographer from The Times-Picayune sought permission to fly over restricted airspace to get some shots above the water, and the company quickly denied the request.

“This behavior is completely unacceptable,” Gore wrote. “Access by reporters should be as unfettered as possible. This de facto form of censorship needs to stop.”

National Review‘s Jim Geraghty told readers today that a British tabloid ran a story, exactly “twenty-five hours and twenty-seven minutes” after Gore’s criticism of BP, accusing the former vice president of carrying on an extra-marital affair.

Geraghty sees a connection.

Remarkable coincidence, having this rumor turn up roughly one day after Gore accuses authorities of “de facto censorship.”

Indeed, the National Review writer specifically said Gore is “pay[ing] the price” for failing to “toe the Obama line.”

This doesn’t appear to be satire, or an example of mocking the far-right’s propensity for bizarre conspiracy theories. Geraghty seems completely serious.*

As Jon Chait explained, “Yes, I’m sure that is Obama’s plan. Al Gore criticizes BP, and Obama won’t countenance any criticism of BP, unless of course it’s coming from him or his own administration. So he decided to smear Gore, in order to discredit him as an environmental spokesman. That certainly seems like the most plausible way to account for the fact that a tabloid published a rumor of a politician having an affair with a celebrity.”

Back in September, there was a fair amount of talk in professional media circles about the need for major outlets to take seriously the kind of stories and ideas that bubble up on conservative websites and talk radio. I continue to respectfully disagree.

* Update: Geraghty was apparently kidding. Sadly, with National Review in recent years, it’s surprisingly hard to tell.

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.