How do you know when congressional Republicans have gone around the bend on Benghazi? When their own staffers -- usually a hyper-loyal bunch -- are mocking GOP colleagues for pushing nonsense.
In particular, these aides say key staffers have been overly consumed with chasing down or addressing inaccurate or unfounded accusations emerging from the inquiry.
"We have got to get past that and figure out what are we going to do going forward," a GOP aide stressed. "Some of the accusations, I mean you wouldn't believe some of this stuff. It's just -- I mean, you've got to be on Mars to come up with some of this stuff."
Remember, this is a House Republican staffer talking about conspiratorial nonsense coming from other House Republican offices.
Senior GOP aides pointed out that many of the accusations involving security and military forces turned out to be unfounded. One recent example involved a supposed whistle-blower who reported that an armed Predator drone was operating in the area, but was not called upon to respond to the Benghazi attack, an assertion labeled erroneous by Pentagon officials and Hill staffers.
"There are some real issues there and then there is just some crazy stuff," the senior House GOP aide said. "The crazy stuff is, you know, the airman in Ramstein [Air Base, Germany,] that knew that the Predator [drone] was armed. There are no armed Predators in the region there. The [status of forces agreement] does not allow us to fly them armed, and everybody knows it."
It's against this backdrop that other GOP lawmakers are starting to back away from their own party's unhinged and conspiratorial accusations.
I realize there are some Beltway types (see Woodward, Bob) who still see a political scandal lurking in the shadows of this story, but when House GOP staffers are using phrases like "you've got to be on Mars" and "crazy stuff," you know this story is over.