I was watching Bill O’Reilly yesterday, and was struck by something in his daily “Talking Points” piece (http://video.foxnews.com/v/4492969/when-law-enforcement-goes-political/). The title of yesterday’s was “When Law Enforcement Goes Political.” O’Reilly showed video of Sheriff Dubnik talking about how right-wing rhetoric had contributed to Saturday’s spree killings in Tucson. O’Reilly’s point was that, as an elected law enforcement officer, it was inappropriate for Dubnik to venture into these political waters. So far, so good. I completely agree with O’Reilly on that point. I think Dubnik was out of line expressing those views, especially in a public way.

Here’s the crazy part, though. Immediately after he was through with the Talking Points, O’Reilly brought on Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County. Consistent with Sheriff Arpaio’s high-profile reputation, O’Reilly characterized him as “180 degrees opposite of Sheriff Dubnik” and “as conservative as Dubnik is liberal.” Perhaps not verbatim quotes, but very very close. And just how does O’Reilly know this? Only one way: Arpaio does exactly the same thing that Dubnik now is doing: using the media to espouse his political views. Arpaio has been doing this incessantly for years.

What a profound double standard. Dubnik is attacked as an example of law enforcement “going political,” and here the most politically-charged sheriff in Arizona — and arguably in the nation; outside of my own county, I could not begin to name a single other sheriff from anywhere — is used to emphasize the point.

I wish this were astonishing.

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How many Americans still think Obama is a Muslim? 10%? 20% I don’t know. But that view is well-entrenched in the tea party crowd. The whispers continue: “He was born in Kenya;” “He’s a Muslim;” “He’s not Christian.” It is all made to sound as if he is some sort of mole, planted in our midst, and ready to turn the US into a caliphate at the first opportunity.

The great irony here is, of course, that Obama also got punched in the face repeatedly for his long-standing association with the United Church of Christ parish pastored by Jeremiah Wright. Politics is not a fair environment, but to be blasted simultaneously for being a Muslim and a member of Jeremiah Wright’s church, well, that’s pretty tough luck, that is.

None of that commentary so far represents any new thoughts, of course. Here’s what’s new in my mind. Two of the most prominent and influential conservatives are Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck. Both Mormons. Poor Obama has to fend off patently false rumors of being un-Christian and Muslim; but somehow the religion these guys truly do practice isn’t given a passing thought. Where is the outrage? Where is the suspicion? Where is the vehement “You’re not a Christian” denunciation of these two?

Please don’t think I hate Mormons. I think neither Romney nor Beck should have to listen to a single word against them for their chosen faith. I just have to observe the bitter irony that Obama continues to have to deal with this false issue, while not a peep is made about the very real religious affiliations of Beck and Romney.

How can this not be a double-standard? And how can this hypocrisy be explained? Strange times.