We here at The Rachel Maddow Show have been fascinated by Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) for a while, because even in a Congress filled with colorful characters, the Michigan Republicans stands out as ... unique.
As Rachel noted a couple of weeks ago, Bentivolio was elected to Congress last year in a bit of a fluke -- the GOP incumbent in a deep-red district resigned just four months before Election Day, leaving Bentivolio, a wacky perennial candidate, as the only Republican running. Bentivolio's day job is working as a professional Santa Claus re-enactor and reindeer herder. He also played a doctor in a 9/11 truther movie, and took shirtless photos of himself kissing a reindeer.
Now Kerry Bentivolio is an actual member of Congress, hosting town-hall meetings like this one earlier this week. As Andrew Kaczynski noted, Bentivolio told his constituents on Monday that he wants to write and submit articles of impeachment against President Obama, which the congressman would consider "a dream come true."
He added that after standing near the president for a speech, "I went back to my office and I've had lawyers come in. These are lawyers, Ph.Ds in history, and I said, 'Tell me how I can impeach the President of the United States.'"
Bentivolio conceded that he'd have to find some "evidence" to avoid becoming "a laughing stock."
We certainly wouldn't want that to happen.
Of course, the point here isn't just to marvel at a strange congressman saying ridiculous things; rather, the point is that Bentivolio, as nutty as he is, isn't nearly as isolated on the fringe as he probably should be.
Note that the Michigan Republican wasn't just a silly candidate for Congress; he's also become a silly member of Congress. At a recent House hearing, he asked Obama administration officials if they have "any operational plans in the event there is civil unrest" to "arrest innocent civilians and put them in FEMA camps." Now he's dreaming of presidential impeachment, because he apparently thinks it would make him feel happy.
And if Bentivolio were the only loony lawmaker talking like this, we could safely say impeachment had been relegated to a lonely fringe. But therein lies the point: he's not alone.
It's easy to laugh at the over-the-top rhetoric from folks like Bentivolio, but the larger question is what to make of a political party in which Bentivolio-like silliness becomes all too common.