If ever you were tempted to think of Tea Party America as anything but a carbuncle on the collective arse of democracy, consider this your "come to Jesus" moment.
Two words: Donald Trump. Fully 20 percent of the "Taxed Enough Already" crowd would like the eccentric billionaire and host of The Apprentice to be our next president.
And there's more! Another 29 percent of NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll respondents -- for a grand total of 49 percent -- are in the camps of other assorted ignoramuses and whack jobs. And here I'm speaking of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann.
Americans always have been an interesting lot, but never so beer-hall putsch scary as this in our modern history -- excepting (notably) just about everything that went on in the Deep South from the end of Reconstruction through the Civil Rights movement, including Strom Thurmond's third-party run for president in 1948.
IT'S ALMOST as if, during the depths of the Great Depression, your alternative to Franklin Roosevelt were either Father Charles Coughlin, Sen. Huey Long or Charles Lindbergh running as the "Nazis? Hitler makes the trains run on time!" America First candidate.
Come to think of it, the nation's various strains of tea-party politics have just about as much useful to say to us as did your average White Citizens Council somewhere in the segregated bowels of Mississippi back in the day.
There's only one thing one can say to people who've nothing better to do than throw such paranoid political hissy fits.