At times, as far-right personalities go, Mike Huckabee doesn’t necessarily come across like a bad guy. He tells charming stories; he frequently jokes around with Jon Stewart; and he even plays bass. As right-wing preachers-turned-politicians go, Huckabee seems non-threatening, and to some, even likable.

It’s worth pausing from time to time to remember the ugly edge to this guy’s personality.

During a Fox News appearance this evening, Mike Huckabee suggested that Mitt Romney, who has come under fire for refusing to immediately release his tax returns, respond by challenging President Obama to release his college application materials in order to “show whether he got any loans as a foreign student.”

Speaking on The O’Reilly Factor, Huckabee said of Romney, “Let him make this challenge: ‘I’ll release my tax returns when Barack Obama releases his college transcripts and the copy of his admission records to show whether he got any loans as a foreign student. When he releases that, talk to me about my tax returns.’”

Really? College transcripts? “Loans as a foreign student”? This right-wing hackery isn’t just cheap, it’s pathetic. It’s the kind of rhetoric one might expect from random crackpots, not a former governor and presidential candidate.

But it’s also the latest in a lengthy series. Less than a year ago, Huckabee falsely claimed President Obama “grew up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather.” Soon after, he endorsed “death panel” garbage. By the early summer, Huckabee was equating the national debt with the Nazi Holocaust.

For a guy with a jovial reputation, there’s something rather twisted about Mike Huckabee’s worldview.

In August 2009, Huckabee argued on his own radio show that President Obama’s health care reform package would have forced Ted Kennedy to commit suicide. Ed Kilgore argued at the time, “This despicable rant should disqualify Mike Huckabee from any further liberal sympathy, no matter how much he tries to joke or rock-n-roll his way back into mainstream acceptability.”

That’s as true now as it was then.

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.