9/11 Truthers—the actual, self-declared movement Truthers—are, universally and without exception, morons. Van Jones signed a Truther petition, which was incredibly stupid, but he says he is not actually a Truther. Wha...?

The people who chant "9/11 was an inside job," who babble about controlled demolitions, who seriously think an airplane did not hit the Pentagon (our faves!)... these people, they are crazies who are rightfully marginalized and mocked and who've never been taken seriously by anyone in any position of authority in the Democratic party. They are, in that sense, like the hardcore Birthers. In fact, Philip Berg and Alex Jones are both.

But the entire equivalence argument ignores some huge fucking differences between those nutty "left-wing" wackos and our current "right-wing" wackos.

Like, there have been a couple seemingly reasonable people who've said some variation on the following this week: If Barney Frank (it is always Barney Frank) had shouted "You Lie!" at President Bush, you stupid liberals would've applauded!

Well, here is the thing, and the problem with hypotheticals: Barney Frank would not have done that, because he's not a complete moron. And if he had done that, he would've shouted it after President Bush had actually lied about something, and not just because he's a racist moron who thinks there is a secret plot to save the lives of Mexicans.

Birtherism is tolerated by movement conservatives. (The attempt by some of them to boycott World Net Daily has been called "the elite" attacking "the grassroots" by various more established conservatives, even though actual "elite" conservatives are feeding complete garbage nonsense to the "grassroots") And Birtherism usually does not bother to hide its essential ridiculousness: Barack Obama was not born in the US, because we do not like him! No one could accidentally sign on to a Birther bill without knowing exactly what they're doing, despite the protestation of Congressmen who've done just that but claim not to believe Obama is ineligible to be president.

And, hey, it is not acceptable among actual elite liberals plotting in their liberal caves to say that "Dick Cheney plotted 9/11 himself because he wanted a Reichstag excuse to go to war against Iraq." What it is acceptable to say, because it is true, is that "George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ignored the intelligence that might've helped them stop 9/11, because they were more concerned with non-threats like Iraq, and once 9/11 happened they not only completely botched their response but they then cynically exploited that tragedy to move against Iraq, which they'd been planning to do beforehand anyway." And it is also acceptable to say, once again because it is true, that "George W. Bush and Dick Cheney stonewalled and undermined the official investigation into the events of that day as part of a cover-up—not of their part in the conspiracy itself but of their breathtaking cynicism and incompetence."

And it is the popularity of those (true!) beliefs among liberals that makes the more credulous ones targets for the actual fucking crazies. If you've ever walked by Lyndon LaRouche's college student cultists, you know that they masquerade as regular Democrats who hate Bush, just like you! (Or they used to; now they masquerade as dudes who hate Obama's socialized medicine, just like you!)

And if you've ever been approached by Truthers collecting signatures you know that what they always say is "do you think there should be a complete investigation into the events of 9/11?" To which the answer is "yes, of fucking course, I want to know exactly what Dick Cheney said and did on that day, I want him and Rumsfeld under oath and on tape, and it is universally acknowledged that the Pentagon and CIA and NSA refused to cooperate with the 9/11 commission." You can want a more independent commission with more authority to compel testimony and declassify documents and not believe that BUSH DID 9/11. And multiple signatories of the famous Van Jones petition claim the wording changed between when they signed it and when it was published, with calls for an investigation suddenly supplemented with language arguing that "people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen." Which does sound like a classic Truther move.

Maybe these people who claim the conspiratorial bullshit was added after the fact are covering their own asses. But we're inclined to believe them. (You are free not to!) And in talking to Salon some of them are still saying dumb things, some of them are obviously actual truthers, some of them just still don't really understand who they're getting in bed with, and some of them have grown up, a little bit.

But skepticism of the American government based on the Gulf of Tonkin, COINTELPRO, and Iran-Contra, and skepticism of the Bush administration based on Ahmed Chalabi, faked intelligence, and warrantless wiretapping is a hell of a lot more sympathetic than skepticism of the legitimacy of the current president born entirely of racial fear.

Trutherism is particularly alluring conspiratorial nonsense because of an actual history of the government doing secret, evil things in the name of national security. But there is, as far as we can tell, no history of Foreign Nationals attempting to seize control of the nation through fraud in order to send white people to concentration camps and throw our elderly to the Death Panels. (There is, obviously, no history of the government murdering 3,000 citizens in order to justify a war, especially since governments have been justifying unnecessary wars without all that fuss and bother for some time, and that is why it is batshit insanity. But "government lies to get us into war" is not exactly as much of a stretch as "man pretends to be American in order to trick everyone into electing him president.")

That said: 9/11 was not an inside job, you morons. And you've successfully made it impossible for anyone to raise responsible and serious questions regarding the response of the government, so nice work.