PAUL BROUN TO GOP: IT’S A TRAP!…. In the wake of the recent shooting in Tucson, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) suggested members break with tradition at the State of the Union, abandon divided partisan seating, and have Democrats and Republicans intermix.

The idea has caught on, and while there apparently won’t be a formal seating pronouncement from either party’s leadership, many lawmakers have partnered up with members from across the aisle as a gesture of magnanimity.

There are some reasonable arguments against the idea, though ultimately, the notion of mixed seating is mostly just harmless symbolism. And then there are unreasonable arguments against it. Take Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), for example, who yesterday described the idea as an elaborate Democratic scheme.

“Our leadership said you do whatever you want to do. If you wanna sit with the Democrats, you can. If you wanna sit with Republicans, that you can. We’re going to have a conference next week and I’m gonna bring that up there. I already believe very firmly that it is a trap and a ruse that Democrats are proposing.

“They don’t want civility. They want silence from the Republicans. And the sitting together being kissy-kissy is just another way to try to silence Republicans, and also to show — to keep the American people from seeing how few of them there are in the U.S. House now. Then when people stand up to — what the Democrats are going to be doing when Barack Obama spews out all his venom, then, um, if they’re scattered throughout all the Republicans, then it won’t be as noticeable as if we’re sitting apart. So it is a ruse and I’m not in favor of it and I’m talking about it and I hope other members of the Republican conference in the House will not take the bait.”

Occasionally, I feel kind of sorry for guys like this. As much as I’d like to fact-check this little tirade, what is there to say? Anyone who thinks a bipartisan seating arrangement is a “ruse” to “silence” Republicans in the face of presidential “venom,” is just hopeless.

If you’re unfamiliar with Broun’s work, the hysterical right-wing congressman from Georgia has quite a greatest hits collection. It was, after all, Paul Broun who said cap-and-trade would kill people; the Affordable Care Act will dictate what kind of car Americans can drive; the health care reform effort reminds him of “Northern Aggression“; and that he considers President Obama to be a Hitler-like figure intent on establishing a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship on Americans.

In October, in the midst of the midterm elections, the Centers for Disease Control launched a public-service campaign on the benefits of a healthy diet, which included recipes people can try that incorporate fruits and vegetables. Broun responded that the CDC intended to “give all the power to the federal government to force you” to eat healthier foods. He added, “This is what the federal, CDC, they gonna be calling you to make sure you eat fruits and vegetables, every day. This is socialism of the highest order!”

He’s quite a congressman.

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.