KRISTOL CALLS OUT BECK OVER ‘HYSTERIA’…. There were some noticeable fissures among conservatives as the revolution in Egypt got underway, but those differences have intensified this week, with the right splintering into a growing number of factions. As of this morning, it’s impossible to say what “the conservative line” is on Egypt.

What’s easy to say is that the line isn’t where Fox News’ Glenn Beck is drawing it. The deranged media personality has spent the last several days cooking up truly bizarre conspiracy theories — even by his standards — involving caliphates, communists, and radical theocrats, all of which has culminated in Beck urging his minions to store food because the “new world order” may be coming to get them.

Yesterday, The Weekly Standard‘s editor William Kristol, a Fox News contributor, called Beck and his ilk out in print.

Now, people are more than entitled to their own opinions of how best to accomplish that democratic end. And it’s a sign of health that a political and intellectual movement does not respond to a complicated set of developments with one voice.

But hysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.

Nor is it a sign of health when other American conservatives are so fearful of a popular awakening that they side with the dictator against the democrats. Rather, it’s a sign of fearfulness unworthy of Americans, of short-sightedness uncharacteristic of conservatives, of excuse-making for thuggery unworthy of the American conservative tradition.

Kristol tends to be a loyal party man, reluctant to publicly criticize his allies. Beck and other unhinged conservatives, in other words, must have really gone too far to draw this kind of rebuke.

What’s also interesting is that National Review‘s Rich Lowry, who’s also a Fox News contributor, piled on yesterday, praising Kristol for taking “a well-deserved shot at Glenn Beck’s latest wild theorizing.”

Time‘s Joe Klein, meanwhile, added that he considers these criticisms pretty important.

Kristol lies very close to the throbbing heart of the Fox News sensibility. And I’ve heard, from more than a couple of conservative sources, that prominent Republicans have approached Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes about the potential embarrassment that the paranoid-messianic rodeo clown may bring upon their brand. The speculation is that Beck is on thin ice. His ratings are dropping, too — which, in the end, is a good part of what this is all about. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a mirror-Olbermann situation soon.

For the record, I find it extremely hard to believe Fox News would actually dump Beck. It wouldn’t surprise me if Murdoch and Ailes were taking some heat over Beck’s idiocy, and that GOP leaders consider Beck an embarrassment, but I’ve never seen a shred of evidence that Murdoch and Ailes have any professional or ethical standards at all.

Regardless, it appears Beck’s shtick is starting to wear thin, with his audience and with his own conservative allies. Whether his job is safe or not, that’s good news.

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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.