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Florida congressman joins 'birther' brigade

<p>Nearly a full year after the White House released President Obama's "long-form" birth certificate, I'd hoped

Nearly a full year after the White House released President Obama's "long-form" birth certificate, I'd hoped even the most ridiculous members of Congress would realize the "birther" garbage is a dead end.

Alas, Scott Keyes posted this video yesterday from Rep. Cliff Stearns' (R) recent town-hall meeting in his Florida district.

For those who can't watch clips online, the Republican congressman heard from a misguided constituent who wants to see the president impeached because he falsely believes Obama wasn't born in the United States. There were any number of ways for Stearns to respond to the strange voter, and the lawmaker chose the worst one.

"All I can tell you is that the general consensus is that he has produced a birth certificate. The question is, is it legitimate? That's where we stand now. I've seen a copy of it on television. But you know the governor of Hawaii couldn't get what he felt was an original of the birth certificate. He tried to do it and gave up on it."So I think what Obama's showing is a facsimile, but I think that debate probably is not enough, shall we say, just to impeach him. We're going to have an election in five or six months so we can change the course of history by electing someone other than Obama. That's what elections are all about. If we started impeachment this time of year, very difficult in terms of time and strength."

Even by the standards of House Republicans, this is pretty nutty. There is no reason to question the legitimacy of the documents; the governor of Hawaii did not struggle to locate the materials; and lending credence to the notion of presidential impeachment is simply absurd on its face.

Remember, Cliff Stearns isn't just some random media personality or right-wing blogger, saying foolish things in public for attention. He's a 12-term congressman and the chairman of a House committee panel on oversight and investigations.

This is, in other words, a lawmaker who should have some idea what he's talking about.

Why are there so many polls showing so much confusion about basic tenets of reality? In part because we have public officials like Stearns spewing nonsense.