Did the White House threaten to close a military base in Nebraska if Sen. Ben Nelson refuses to fall in line with their healthcare plan? Both parties have denied the allegation–but as The Nation‘s Chris Hayes points out on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, the accuracy of this rumor is meaningless when it comes to the GOP smear machine. Already being called “treason” by Glenn Beck and Co., this latest story just signals the kind of unfounded “infection” that can start on Twitter and conveniently spread to nightly Fox News–regardless of bountiful evidence against its accuracy. If there’s a silver lining to it, Hayes points out, is that it all takes place in a self-contained conservative universe–and that ultimately, the Republicans have proven that they are irrelevant in a substantive healthcare debate.

Fernanda Diaz

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