Former CNN host Lou Dobbs, in an interview published Monday in Esquire Magazine, declared that his attempts to question the validity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate were valid -- a conspiracy that has long since been debunked.

"I ask a question, and I am attacked from the extreme Left as a quote-unquote birther," Dobbs declared. "I mean, what the hell is that? When you can create a controversy by asking what seems to me still a perfectly commonsense question? It has been used in the extreme Left to create a toxicity that is just unbelievable."

Dobbs, who took heat during his CNN tenure for his jeremiads on border security and against illegal immigrants, also claimed his record was being spun.

"I'm actually pro-immigrant," he said. "There's not a restrictionist bone in my body."

He added, "There aren't twenty million illegal immigrants because of a choice made by the voting electorate of the country. There are twenty million illegal immigrants in this country because a good part of the establishment made a decision to exploit labor."

Among other flare-ups, Dobbs once invited a guest on his show who declared there had been 7,000 documented cases of leprosy in the United States in the past three years -- and the mythical leprosy cases to immigrants.

Questioning Dobbs about the claim on 60 Minutes, CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl said his staff had found nothing to support the assertion.

"We checked that and found a report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, saying 7,000 is the number of leprosy cases over the last 30 years, not the past three, and nobody knows how many of those cases involve illegal immigrants," Stahl said.

Dobbs parried back. "I can tell you this," he said. "If we reported it, it's a fact."

"You can't tell me that," Stahl replied.

"Well, no, I just did," Dobbs returned.

Asked Stahl: "How can you guarantee that to me?"

"Because I'm the managing editor, and that's the way we do business," Dobbs said. "We don't make up numbers, Lesley. Do we?"

Dobbs resigned from his CNN post in November 2009.