MARK KIRK SYNDROME SPREADS TO OTHER GOP CANDIDATES…. When it comes to candidates with an almost pathological tendency to exaggerate their backgrounds, Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk (R) is obviously in a league of his own. But there are others who are at least competitive in the category.

In Colorado, for example, gubernatorial hopeful Dan Maes has told some fascinating tales about his work in law enforcement in Kansas in the 1980s. As he tells it, Maes was a hero, fighting against a corrupt local system.

Maes had previously said he was fired from the police department in Liberal, a community of 21,000, because he got too close to higher-ups. In a letter to supporters in August, he went further, saying that he was placed undercover by the [Kansas Bureau of Investigation] to gather information inside a bookmaking ring that was allegedly selling drugs. […]

“I got too close to some significant people in the community who were involved in these activities and abruptly was dismissed from my position. I was blindsided and stunned to say the least. I am proud to say that I never participated in any illegal activity while undercover,” Maes said in the letter, which was briefly posted on his Web site.

Maes called it a chapter in his life “where I fought the machine.” He refused to elaborate, saying that “many who were involved in this situation are still alive and in new places in their lives and I want to protect them.”

In reality, Maes never worked for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the agency did not send Maes undercover. He did work for the local police department for about a year and a half, but it’s unclear exactly why his tenure ended.

Asked this week about his claims of working undercover, Maes conceded “those comments might have been incorrect comments.” Pressed further about the stories published on his campaign website, Maes added, “Whoever typed it, typed it. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Maes, up until now, is best known for his concerns that a bike-riding program in Denver may be part of a nefarious scheme hatched by the United Nations.

I have no idea where the Republican Party finds these guys, or why they keep winning GOP primaries.

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.