FROM CHAIN-EMAILS TO BECK TO CONGRESS…. About a year ago, a right-wing chain-email started making the rounds, about an alleged nefarious scheme. As the story went, President Obama loaned $2 billion to a Brazilian oil company to drill for oil in Brazilian waters, to benefit China. Worse, the tale continued, George Soros was involved in some way, as an investor in the project.

The whole thing was debunked last year by, among others, In reality, it seems the Brazilian oil company, PetroBras, received a loan from the independent Export-Import Bank, approved by appointees of the Bush/Cheney administration. Soros is part of the project, but his investment came in 2008 — months before the Export-Import Bank agreed to make the loan.

The Export-Import Bank agreed to the loan, by the way, in large part because PetroBras will use U.S.-made oilfield equipment and services on the project.

With this reality in mind, here was Glenn Beck’s message to his misguided audience on Monday:

“Then Obama suspends the deepwater drilling at 1,500 meters. He says, ‘He-ey, that’s dangerous. 1,500 meters, that’s crazy!’ PetroBras is drilling at 2,777 meters. Obama knows it and loans $2 billion to? PetroBras. Last stop? PetroBras shareholders get rich. Oh my gosh, we’re back at the beginning! Shareholder, PetroBras, getting rich. You getting screwed.”

Beck added that the loan came “just days” after Soros strengthened his investment. None of this is true. The deranged media personality is just recycling nonsense from an old chain-email.

And yet, here’s Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) the day after Beck’s program:

“The thing that really is funny about this is we just sent $2 billion to Brazil so they could do offshore drilling…. We’ve got the energy here in the United States to solve these problems. We don’t need to be sending Mr. Soros money in Brazil so he can make more money by doing offshore drilling with our taxpayers’ money.”

The problem here is not just that a House Republican is confused — that’s a daily occurrence — but that GOP lawmakers believe they’re getting actual, reliable information from Glenn Beck’s program.

It’s one thing to tolerate madness for entertainment’s sake. It’s even understandable for Republicans to cheer Beck on to keep the party base riled up. But actual members of Congress should know better than to rely on the self-described rodeo clown as a source of legitimate news, worthy of officials’ interest.

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.