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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the wildest attacks, conspiracy theories, and other loony behavior from the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5: Paul Gosar

Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) got his baseless accusations mixed up on Wednesday, when he blasted former IRS commissioner Doug Shulman for not knowing who leaked Mitt Romney’s tax information to Harry Reid during the 2012 presidential election.

In August, 2012, Reid claimed that an investor with Bain Capital told him that Romney “didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years” — a charge that Romney denied, and which quickly faded when Reid refused to name his source. As Gosar remembers it, however, it was the IRS that leaked the info — presumably at President Obama’s behest — and the fact that Shulman can’t blow the whistle on it is “shameful.”

The exchange on Reid begins at the 4:43 mark of the video below:

“Doesn’t that alarm you that all of a sudden, this pertinent information comes up, and you’re the head of this agency, and you’re not asking questions?” Gosar raged after a clearly confused Shulman couldn’t answer his question on Reid’s source. “Shame on you. Absolutely shame on you.”

Notably, Gosar endorsed Mitt Romney just two weeks after Reid’s tax claim — which Gosar apparently believed wholeheartedly. So for at least one Republican congressman, a decade of tax fraud does not preclude a man from becoming president.

4: Michele Bachmann

michele bachmann

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com

Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) makes her near-weekly appearance on this list for her new strategy to repeal Obamacare: Let God handle it.

In an interview with James Dobson on Tuesday, Bachmann reiterated her crazy theory that President Obama “will ultimately be forced to repudiate his own signature piece of legislation,” before veering into even loonier territory.

“And I think before his second term is over, we’re going to see a miracle before our eyes, I believe God is going to answer our prayers and we’ll be freed from the yoke of Obamacare,” Bachmann said. “We serve a mighty God and I believe it can happen.”

Of course, if Bachmann was correct that God pushed her — along with Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry — into the 2012 presidential race, then it seems pretty clear that He was doing His best to ensure that Barack Obama would win re-election, thus protecting health care reform. And if God really wanted to undo Obamacare, then He probably would’ve helped out with House Republican’s previous 37 attempts to repeal the law. But considering that Bachmann was last seen on this list complaining that the IRS will deny conservatives the Obamacare coverage that she hates so much, it’s probably best not to read too deeply into the logic behind her ramblings.

3: Glenn Beck

Professional crazy person Glenn Beck checks in at number three with a characteristically deranged take on the ongoing IRS controversy. In Beck’s opinion, the congressional hearings into the IRS’ misconduct are a huge waste of time — because Congress apparently has an all-encompassing data tracking system that stores Americans’ every email and phone conversation in a secret database in Utah.

“Why are you waiting?” Beck asks Congress. “The more you wait, the more time they have to delete. Go in and get it. You have it. Or is that security system you’ve built for our protection not really for our protection?”

“The American people have just been raped,” the always-classy Beck concludes. “Why are you asking the rapist to hurry up with the swab test?”

2: Louie Gohmert

This Week In Crazy regular Louie Gohmert offered a typically unhinged reaction to the IRS controversy on the House floor Friday, insisting “if this Homeland Security had been around to ‘be helpful,’ so called, to our founders,” it would have resulted in the IRS murdering the participants of the 1773 Boston Tea Party.

The strange history lesson came as part of Gohmert’s response to an article in the conspiracy-filled Daily Calller, which claimed that the Department of Homeland Security was protecting the free speech of Islamic extremists. After a little unsubstantiated rambling about how Homeland Security persecutes evangelical Christians, Gohmert unleashed his inner crazy.

“You know, thank goodness that the IRS was not around to have helped the founders when they founded the country or otherwise they would have probably shot the Boston Tea Party participants, they would have killed off over half of the signers of the Declaration of the Independence,” Gohmert sadly declared.

Video of his rant is below, via The Raw Story:

1: Alex Jones
This week’s “winner” is upsettingly-influential conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who managed to outdo himself with his suggestion that a government-run “weather weapon” created the tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma on Monday.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Jones floated the outrageous theory on the Tuesday edition of his radio show. In response to a caller who suggested that the government may have caused a recent string of sinkholes, Jones claimed that “of course there’s weather weapon stuff going on,” explaining that the government “can create and steer groups of tornadoes.”

Jones did acknowledge that “natural tornadoes” do happen, so the pertinent question is “were helicopters and small fixed-wing aircraft seen in and around the weather patterns…spraying and doing things? If you saw that, you better bet your bottom dollar they did this.”

Although Jones’ theory is completely insane, don’t be surprised if it resurfaces in the near future — many prominent politicians and media outlets have a history of validating Jones’ conspiracy trolling as legitimate analysis.

Photo by expertinfantry/ CC BY 2.0

At this moment, the president of the United States is threatening to "throw out" the votes of millions of Americans to hijack an election that he seems more than likely to lose. Donald Trump is openly demanding that state authorities invalidate lawful absentee ballots, no different from the primary ballot he mailed to his new home state of Florida, for the sole purpose of cheating. And his undemocratic scheme appears to enjoy at least nominal support from the Supreme Court, which may be called upon to adjudicate the matter.

But what is even worse than Trump's coup plot — and the apparent assent of unprincipled jurists such as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — is the Democratic Party's feeble response to this historic outrage. It is the kind of issue that Republicans, with their well-earned reputation for political hardball, would know how to exploit fully and furiously.

They know because they won the same game in Florida 20 years ago.

During that ultimate legal showdown between George W. Bush and Al Gore, when every single vote mattered, a Democratic lawyer argued in a memorandum to the Gore team that the validity of absentee ballots arriving after Election Day should be challenged. He had the law on his side in that particular instance — but not the politics.

As soon as the Republicans got hold of that memo, they realized that it was explosive. Why? Many of the late ballots the Democrats aimed to invalidate in Florida had been sent by military voters, and the idea of discarding the votes of service personnel was repellent to all Americans. Former Secretary of State James Baker, who was overseeing the Florida recount for Bush, swiftly denounced the Democratic plot against the soldiers, saying: "Here we have ... these brave young men and women serving us overseas. And the postmark on their ballot is one day late. And you're going to deny him the right to vote?"

Never mind the grammar; Baker's message was powerful — and was followed by equally indignant messages in the following days from a parade of prominent Bush backers including retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the immensely popular commander of U.S. troops in the Desert Storm invasion that drove Saddam Hussein's army out of Kuwait. Fortuitously, Schwarzkopf happened to be on the scene as a resident of Florida.

As Jeffrey Toobin recounted in Too Close to Call, his superb book on the Florida 2000 fiasco, the Democrats had no choice but to retreat. "I would give the benefit of the doubt to ballots coming in from military personnel," conceded then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Gore's running mate, during a defensive appearance on Meet the Press. But Toobin says Gore soon realized that to reject military ballots would render him unable to serve as commander in chief — and that it would be morally wrong.

Fast-forward to 2020, when many of the same figures on the Republican side are now poised to argue that absentee ballots, which will include many thousands of military votes — should not be counted after Election Day, even if they arrived on time. Among those Republicans is Justice Kavanaugh, who made the opposite argument as a young lawyer working for Bush in Florida 20 years ago. Nobody expects legal consistency or democratic morality from a hack like him, but someone should force him and his Republican colleagues to own this moment of shame.

Who can do that? Joe Biden's campaign and the Democratic Party ought to be exposing the Republican assault on military ballots — and, by the same token, every legally valid absentee ballot — every day. But the Democrats notoriously lack the killer instinct of their partisan rivals, even at a moment of existential crisis like this one.

No, this is clearly a job for the ex-Republicans of the Lincoln Project, who certainly recall what happened in Florida in 2000. They have the attitude and aptitude of political assassins. They surely know how to raise hell over an issue like military votes — and now is the time to exercise those aggressive skills in defense of democracy.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.