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In my day, wingnuts took some pride in their attacks.  The email character assassination campaign was a work of art.  Remember the one about how Oliver North used his Senate testimony to warn about al-quaeda and bin Laden?  The story went that one Senator arrogantly dismissed his warning.  If you got the email shortly after 9/11, the offender was Al Gore; in 2004, it magically changed to John Kerry.  

It didn't matter that the whole exchange never happened; the target audience wasn't going to comb through pages of testimony to check.  Besides, the email included a note from somebody you never heard of, who said, "I checked it out - it's true!"  Good enough.

Like most things, the decline of quality wingnuttery can be blamed on Vince Foster.

The "Vince Foster murder" story, which had a sort of superficial plausibility if you didn't think too much about it. There was endless chatter about some sort of scandal in Whitewater, even if nobody coould explain explain just what the Clintons were alleged to have done wrong (much less come up with that silly, you know, evidence).  Then Vince Foster committed suicide, and suddenly the airwaves were flooded with farfetched stories abot how the Clintons had offed him over his lesbian affair with Hillary.

When Rush is blaring nonsense about Foster's body "being moved from a building owned by Hillary Clinton" those who want to believe it are going to keep repeating it, no matter how many investigations find that Foster killed himself in the same park where his body was found.

Seeing how easy it was to get people to fall for this, yesteryear's wingnuts came up with the "Clinton body count," alleging that people close to Bill Clinton were dying off mysteriously.  That is, if "close to Clinton" is defined by a strange game of six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon, and "mysterious" deaths include just about anything.  There's an exhaustive Snopes debunking, but the target audience isn't going to check:

My favorite remains the supposed "bullet hole" in Ron Brown's skull after his plane crash.  So, the Clintons had someone shoot him and then crash the plane to get rid of all the witnesses (including, presumably, a not-too-bright assassin)?  If you're going to crash the plane, what's the point of shooting him?  He can only die once (although the list holds one exception to that rule, which we'll get to shortly).

Sure, the "Clinton body count" author had to drag in Clinton's mother's chiropractor (I'm sure he had sensitive information about Mama Clinton's vertabrae), and referred to a death by pneumonia as "suicide."  But they at least took the trouble to find people who (a) had actually existed, and (b) were actually deceased.

The left has a parody "Bush body count" that includes JFK (both Sr. and Jr.), and more seious versions that include the lives lost in Iraq and Katrina.  But you just don't see lefties spamming inboxes with rants about the "apparent suicide" of James Hatfield.

More recently, wingnuttery has gotten lazy. Here's the latest version, the "Obama death count:"

It appears that most of the names on the list are simply made up.  How hard would it be to get a list of people who were murdered in a particular year in Chicago?  And then there's the unfortunate Gandy Baugh, who was apparently thrown off a tall building by the Clintons in 1994, then brought himself back to life, moved to Chicago, only to have Obama throw him off another tall building in 2003!  (Actually he died at home in 1994.)  Having discovered that some people will believe anything, the wingnuts aren't even trying anymore.

I wasn't sure at first if this was supposed to be a spoof.  An "initiation" into Islam that requires committing murder (of another Muslim, apparently) before the age of 10?  How is it that there are any Muslims left?  But there were people who believed something very similar for centuries:

Further proof of laziness:  the wingnut author refers to Obama's church as "Trinity Baptist."  So during all those years when Obama was pretending to belong to the Trinity United Church of Christ, apparently he was not only a secret Muslim - he was also a secret Baptist!

BTW, I highly recommend that comments in the "Obama death count" thread at "Sadly, No."  There are a number of very creative addtions to the list, including Wile E. Coyote, Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi, and the McCain campaign.

Now forward this to at least 100 wingnuts, or Obama will send a Muslim second-grader to drop an anvil on your head in an "apparent suicide."

Originally posted to Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Sat Jul 26, 2008 at 05:55 PM PDT.

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