Friday night on "The Rachel Maddow Show," host Rachel Maddow discussed the mainstreaming of paranoid, right-wing conspiracy theories, and how politicians like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are taking these wild-eyed fantasies off of the Internet and talk radio and bringing them to bear in national politics.
She began by discussing Thursday's meteor strike in Russia.
"The video is amazing and there's so much of it," she said. Car dashboard cameras, security cameras and people with cell phones all captured the fireball and massive explosion that occurred when the meteor broke up in the earth's atmosphere.
The last time anything even approaching the size of Thursday's meteor fell to earth was more than 100 years ago, and, as Maddow pointed out, there weren't nearly as many dashboard cameras in those days.
"And yet," she said, "less than 24 hours after this meteor won the prize for the most accidentally well-documented astronomical event ever, there are already meteor 'truthers' in Russia."
Vladimir Zhirinovsky is a flamboyant Russian politician who known for his outlandish remarks and over-the-top political posturing. Zhirinovsky claims that the explosion over the Ural mountains on Thursday was not actually a meteor.
"Those aren't meteors falling," he said. "It's the Americans testing new weapons."
"Man the battle stations," Maddow quipped.
Here in the U.S., she said, we may not have the meteor strikes, but we have the zany, conspiracy nut politicians.
She pointed to a recent flap that had its origins at Breitbart.com, the charge that Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense allegedly received donations from a group called "Friends of Hamas."
As Slate columnist Dave Weigel pointed out, "Friends of Hamas" does not exist.
"Someone's wrong on the Internet!" said Maddow. "Big whoop."
Russia may have its crackpot meteor deniers, but here in the U.S., we have Sen. Rand Paul, who, sadly, is part of the process for choosing our next Secretary of Defense.
Paul gave an interview to radio talker Hugh Hewitt on Friday in which he said he'd seen the report about "Friends of Hamas" and found it "concerning."
"I'm very troubled by it," Paul said.
"'It' being Chuck Hagel's imaginary connection to an imaginary organization that only exists on Breitbart.com's server," Maddow said, "and apparently in Rand Paul's mind. That is who gets to vote to confirm the new Defense Secretary. He's 'very troubled' by this terrorist organization that he heard about in a chat room somewhere."
Watch the video, embedded below via MSNBC: