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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Whenever politics gets stranger than fiction — say, when a grown man talks about things like “legitimate rape” and a woman’s magical sperm zapper — I can’t help but wonder about behind-the-scenes conversations that no one covers.

Take the Todd Akin debacle, for example. He’s the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri.

Still.

I know.

Last Sunday, he sat down in a St. Louis television studio equipped with a running camera and working microphones. Nevertheless, he proceeded to have this exchange with reporter Charles Jaco, who asked Akin to explain why he opposed abortion in the case of rape.

AKIN: “Well, you know, people always want to make that one of those things, well, how do ya, how do ya, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question? It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that may that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be in the rapist and not attacking the child.”

JACO: “OK. Let’s move to the economy.”

OK — let’s move to what?

You’ll notice I added no ellipsis between Akin’s comment and Jaco’s response. That’s because the only thing missing in this exchange is the common sense God gave a goose.

Here’s what I want to believe: Somewhere in that studio, a producer was screaming in Jaco’s little ear-thingee, “Jaco! JACO! Did you hear what he just said? Ask him what he means by ‘legitimate rape.’ Ask him what doctor on planet Earth told him a woman’s body can zap away sperm. For cryin’ out loud, ask him anything that indicates you were actually listening to what he said.”

Surely, a producer, cameraman or even an intern tried to jolt Jaco awake, but the effort was lost to a technical glitch. That’s what I want to imagine, anyway. Instead, I keep seeing that table in the back of the bar. It’s full of high-fiving, right-wing consultants cackling over another member of the mainstream media failed to challenge a ludicrous Republican claim.

“Works every time, man,” one of them shouts as the others laugh. “Just have to keep make ’em scared to death that we’ll call their editors and accuse ’em of liberal bias.”

Something else I’m wondering: How did Mitt Romney go from counseling Akin on Monday to “correct” his statements to demanding on Tuesday that he resign?

I imagine a series of huddles with staffers.