ANGLE PLAYS NEVADANS FOR FOOLS…. Even in an ugly political cycle, some offensive attacks stand out for being uniquely ugly. This month, for example, we saw right-wing candidates Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Sharron Angle (R) use an identical image of young Latino men as part of a divisive attempt to scare white people.

Upon closer inspection, the entire message isn’t just racially divisive, it’s also intended to deceive voters. But for Angle, the extremist candidate in Nevada, we’ve got it all wrong. At least, that’s what she told a group of Hispanic high school students the other day.

U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle defended a series of campaign advertisements that use images of sullen, dark-skinned men and a map of Mexico to blast the immigration record of her Democratic opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid. […]

“I think that you’re misinterpreting those commercials,” said Angle, a tea party favorite who has rallied for stricter border enforcement.

Angle told the students she was “not sure that those are Latinos in that commercial” and appeared to suggest that the ad seeks to draw attention to the danger of potential terrorists entering the country from Canada.

I really should be beyond surprise by now. But the derangement of some unbalanced candidates for powerful public offices is so overwhelming, I often feel like I’m watching some kind of twisted performance art.

Angle’s race-baiting ads, some of the ugliest since Jesse Helms, have all the subtlety of a wrecking ball. She shows viewers images of Mexicans and a map of Mexico over on-screen text about “illegal aliens.”

But she’s “not sure that those are Latinos”? Her point relates to Canada?

After 20 years following politics closely, I’ve just never seen anything so pathological. Sharron Angle is either mentally disturbed or she thinks the people of Nevada are morons.

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.