By Mark Bazer: It turns out there are people in this country with a tenuous grip on reality but an insatiable desire for publicity.

You've probably heard of the Obama "birther" story.

If not, it goes like this. It turns out there are people in this country with a tenuous grip on reality but an insatiable desire for publicity.

Now, ideally, you'd hope a person with that combination of traits would do the responsible thing and have octuplets via in-vitro fertilization while on welfare.

But the birthers aren't so benign. Their mission is twofold: 1) to spread the notion that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and thus not eligible for the presidency and 2) to appear on cable news.

The birthers argue that Obama has never provided an American birth certificate and that they have a copy of his actual birth certificate from the "Republic of Kenya."

These are, let's face it, compelling arguments, and would be even more compelling if Obama hadn't already provided his American birth certificate and if the Republic of Kenya had existed at the time of Obama's birth.

Also, the Kenyan certificate is signed by registrar E.F. Lavender, which is the name of a dishwasher detergent.

The problem, though, is not the birthers. Having already successfully proven that 9/11 was an inside job, they've got to do something with their time.

No, the problem is with the people giving these birthers airtime. Most prominently, CNN's Lou Dobbs, who says he doesn't buy the birthers' arguments but does want people to remember that he has a show.

The problem, though, is, not really Lou Dobbs. Having already personally rounded up nearly three million illegal immigrants and strangled many of their pets, he's got to do something with his time.

No, the problem, if you get right down to it, is with groups out there trying to stop Lou Dobbs.

Take Media Matters. It's an organization that honorably subjects itself to listening to and transcribing every hate-filled far-right comment made at any time in America. If you made a hate-filled, far-right comment last night at dinner, check the Media Matters Web site; it should be up there.

Now, the group has produced a commercial targeting Dobbs. In other words, the ad gives more airtime to Dobbs for giving airtime to the birthers.

But c'mon. The problem, ultimately, though is not the folks at Media Matters. Having already caused Bill O'Reilly to have multiple on-air coronaries, they had to do something with their time.

No, the problem is the major networks devoting airtime to reporting on the airtime that Media Matters is buying to reveal the airtime that Lou Dobbs is giving to the birthers.

Although, nobody watches the network news much anymore, so perhaps the problem is the newspapers devoting space to reporting on networks reporting on the airtime that Media Matters is buying to reveal the airtime that Lou Dobbs is giving to the birthers.

Or maybe it's the blogs linking to the newspaper articles reporting on networks reporting on the airtime that Media Matters is buying to reveal the airtime that Lou Dobbs is giving to the birthers.

Or maybe it's the columns discussing what the problem . . .

Mark Bazer can be reached at mebazer@gmail.com.