WHAT PASSES FOR OUR PUBLIC DISCOURSE…. This was the lead story on Mark Halperin’s “The Page” yesterday afternoon.

In heated exchange on The View, real estate magnate [Donald Trump] says there’s “something on that birth certificate” that Obama doesn’t like.

Behar: “Are you a birther, Donald?”

Trump: “Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate? … I can’t rely on some newspaper … I want him to show his birth certificate.”

Goldberg: “That’s the biggest pile of dog mess I’ve heard in ages.”

Hasselbeck: “Then why not show it?”

It was also the lead story on CNN’s political blog last night and this morning.

Note that Trump wasn’t the only idiot on the stage — co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck also demanded to know where the president’s birth certificate is.

There was no heated argument about Libya, the economy, the budget, Afghanistan, oil prices, housing, or unemployment, just a lengthy series of shouts on this mainstream television show about a birth certificate, stemming from a truly insane conspiracy theory that was debunked years ago.

It’s 2011. I just thought I’d mention that.

Sometimes, what passes for our public discourse is so painfully ridiculous, it’s just depressing.

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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.