ALIEN SIGHTINGS are not in and of themselves conclusive proof of mental instability.

But you gotta admit, the incidence of alien sightings is unusually high among people who have been prescribed long periods of closely supervised bed rest.

So, you would think that when they start sighting aliens in the Oval Office, it's time to move the sharp objects out of their reach.

Unless you are one of the Republican congressmen who have affixed their official seal to the bona fides of the nutbag fringe who challenge the president's citizenship. Or, unless you are Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs or one of the other media enablers who know Obama is a citizen but lack the integrity to say so.

I don't want to come down too hard on the "birthers" as these half-wits are called. It would be like pointing and laughing at handicapped people.

But there is no such constraint when it comes to pointing out how unethical, irresponsible and exploitative these political whores and their slimy chroniclers in the media are for teasing a few stray hairs into a veritable bouffant of insanity.

Would there still be "birthers" without the sanction of the whores and hustlers in Congress and cable land? Probably. But this would not still be a live issue six months into the Obama administration if there weren't people willing to exploit these crazies for their own purposes.

Their purpose is to portray the president as "other." You can trace it back to the ridiculous flap about his middle name "Hussein." What kind of loyal American names his child after the evil ruler of a terrorist-harboring nation, they mused?

Never mind that Saddam Hussein wasn't even the evil ruler of his own playpen when Obama was born.

Then we were told that Obama was schooled in a madrassa that preached hatred of America and its ideals in order to swell the ranks of terrorists. The truth barely slowed the momentum of this pernicious lie.

What could slow it is for some of the trusted "leaders" of the Republican Party to admit that they believe the president is a citizen.

Instead of showing that small measure of leadership, they allow this sore to fester.

The national leader of this movement is Orly Taitz, a Russian immigrant who enjoys a comfortable life in the U.S. despite her alien status.

What does it say when a Russian immigrant is seen as more credible constitutional scholar than a Harvard-trained, constitutional-law professor?

That's the question that even the lunatic fringe may be asking now if it hadn't been aided and abetted by 10 Republican lawmakers who signed onto a bill introduced by Florida freshman Bill Posey.

Posey's "birther" bill would require future candidates to show their official birth certificates before they run for office.

But the state of Hawaii, which is one of the United States, has publicized Obama's birth certificate. It's official. It shows where he was born, the names of his parents and the date of his birth, Aug. 4, 1961.

His birth was routinely reported in both Honolulu daily papers. How anyone can believe these newspapers entered into a conspiracy 48 years ago is beyond even the warped reasoning of the birthers.

But even after his U.S. birth was publicly documented more extensively than any past president's has ever been, you get people like Jim Imhofe, R-Okla., who'd rather legitimize than defuse the nonsense.

"They have a point," Imhofe told a reporter. "The White House has not done a very good job of dispelling the concerns of these citizens."

If the birth certificate and the newspaper announcements don't dispel their concerns, what would?

What would it take to satisfy the requirements of Posey's "birther" bill? If a birth certificate with an official state seal won't do it, what will?

You only have to read the filth posted on the YouTube comments section under the latest birther videos to see how sick these people are. The GOP congressmen who sponsored the birther bill know that.

But with GOP numbers dwindling, them seem to think that integrity is a luxury they can't afford. *

Send e-mail to smithel@phillynews.com or call 215-854-2512. For recent columns: http://go.philly.com/smith