Let us explain. Jade Helm 15 is the latest in a very long series of whimsically titled training exercises conducted by the U.S. military in order to maintain troop readiness, test combat strategies, and otherwise work out the kinks in America's reliably top-notch ability to blow the holy hell out of any nation on Earth with a single presidential phone call. This particular one will be a two-month-long affair meant to simulate special operations in a the brutally harsh environment of a third-world desert hellhole—hence the choice of Texas—and will feature some of the nation's most skilled special operations experts, including the Rangers, the Green Berets, and the Navy SEALs. Like all similar operations, it is likely to funnel serious cash into local coffers, but otherwise is not likely to have any noticeable impact on state residents aside from the inconvenience of having to pass lines of camo-painted Humvees on local freeways as troops make their way to and from the training grounds.

None of this would merit more than a few stories in the local papers, had not some of America's singularly stupidest patriots(TM) decided that it was all a cunning ruse. Because Obama. And Muslims. And FEMA.

The announcement follows weeks of growing public outcry over the training event. Super right-wing news websites first circulated an Army document describing the planned exercise in March, and since then a broad theory of military plans to subdue Texans and institute martial law has emerged.

Indeed. There are internet websites devoted to claiming everything from childhood vaccinations to Burrito Night at your local community center are in preparation for instituting martial law. We call the purveyors of those sites lunatics and morons, and we generally try to avoid paying attention to them. Town meetings do admittedly tend to attract these people, because lunatics and morons tend to have considerably more free time on their hands than you or I, but yelling your internet-sourced, deeply stupid, in-all-probablilty-drug-fueled theory into a microphone does not make it more intelligent. It just makes it louder.

At this point, newly ensconced Texas Gov. Greg Abbott could have done one of two things. He could ignore the raving morons who were claiming that the U.S. military was coming to Texas (land of many, many military bases, and you'll shutter even one of those money gushers over every last Texas politician's dead body) to impose martial law and ship off overly patriotic Texans into FEMA camps, possibly via local Walmarts, while ISIS and the Green Berets wage full-scale warfare in the state (because ISIS has a secret military base near the Texas-Mexico border, which is the sort of thing the "mainstream" press won't tell you but your average World Meth Daily Online is all over), and apparently the Green Berets and the Navy SEALs intentionally lose to ISIS because Obama, or something, hence the need to have first rounded up the true patriots, all of whom will be rousted from their homes just as they are sitting down in the evening to a cool glass of eggshell white semi-gloss house paint.

Or Abbott could say to himself hmm, this collection of obvious paint-drinkers and doorknob-lickers has a point, and he could summon up the state's own military forces, because that too is a thing, to monitor whether or not the United States military starts rounding up patriots or digging tunnels under Walmart just as the paint drinkers had prophesied.

And we wouldn't be here if he chose the non-stupid thing, now would we?

In a letter to Major General Gerald Betty of the Texas State Guard, Abbott said his order was "to address concerns of Texas citizens."

"During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property right and civil liberties will not be infringed," the governor wrote. "I am directing the Texas State Guard to monitor Operation Jade Helm 15."

If even that were the end of it, it still could have skated by with being among the stupidest things a Texas governor has ever done, but not the stupidest story anywhere in America for a full generation. But that wasn't the end of it. Seemingly emboldened by the new Texas governor's willingness to either pander to crackpots or willingly lift that same can of discount-brand house paint to his own lips, multiple Republicans fell over themselves to express their own concern that maybe the U.S. Army was going to mount an operation to overthrow Texas. Presidential candidate Rand Paul, who believes the government cannot possibly do anything right, nonetheless promised to look into it. Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who was well in the running for the dumbest bag of skin and cookie dough in all of politics even before any of this came up, promised he'd get to the bottom of things.

"My office has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise," Cruz, a Texas senator, told Bloomberg at the South Carolina Republican Party's annual convention. "We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don't trust what it is saying."

And still the "concerns" grew, and were embellished. Chuck Norris, whose career of late has been so devoid of accomplishment that he is still referred to as the guy from Walker, Texas Ranger, jumped aboard to add his own Scrappy Doo thoughts to the mix.

"The U.S. government says, 'It’s just a training exercise.' But I’m not sure the term 'just' has any reference to reality when the government uses it," Norris wrote in his column. "Whatever Jade Helm 15 actually is, I think it is more than coincidental that the FBI director just confessed in February that the presence of ISIS can be felt in all 50 states of the U.S. and that the Pentagon is suddenly running its biggest military training exercise with every branch of the military across seven Southwestern states."

It is conspicuous, isn't it? And note that all of this is happening during two months that will each feature a new moon—truly, we are through the looking glass.

Faced at this point with a theory that had been elevated from obscure puddles in a few isolated fever swamps into a governor's office and even onto the Republican campaign trail, the Pentagon was forced to reassure Americans that no, the Green Berets were not coming to abduct your fencepost-stupid Texan uncle and take away his Don't Tread on Me flags.

“Operation Jade Helm poses no threat to any American’s civil liberties,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday. “Operation Jade Helm is being conducted by Americans – by, specifically, American special forces personnel.”

And an always-patriotic Walmart vigorously denied that—no wait, we have to get the flavor of this exactly right:

Wal-Mart issued a statement Monday to TPM dismissing "rumors" that tunnels were being built by the U.S. military beneath closed stores in an attempt to launch a takeover of Texas.

"There’s no truth to the rumors," Wal-Mart spokesperson Lorenzo Lopez told TPM via email.

You can file that under things Walmart spokesperson Lorenzo Lopez never, ever thought he would be forced to say. There is no word on Mr. Lorenzo Lopez's condition now, but we all wish him a speedy recovery and would like to remind him that there are support groups out there that can help.

This is not to say that there hasn't been pushback. You cannot offer up the stupidest theory of your generation and expect no blowback, no matter how flag-waving you might be or what office the voters of your mentally decaying state have voted you into.

Former Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst tried to put it in perspective for outsiders when he explained, "Unfortunately, some Texans have projected their legitimate concerns about the competence and trustworthiness of President Barack Obama on these noble warriors. This must stop."

Another former Republican politician was a bit more pointed.

"Your letter pandering to idiots ... has left me livid," former state Rep. Todd Smith wrote Abbott. "I am horrified that I have to choose between the possibility that my Governor actually believes this stuff and the possibility that my Governor doesn't have the backbone to stand up to those who do."

You call it horror, Mr. Smith. For those of us tasked with watching these people on a daily basis, we call it a weekday. And bonus points for the not-at-all genteel re-asking of that eternal question, when dealing with staunchly conservative officeholders: Stupid, or just Evil? It may be, in the end, unanswerable. Greg Abbott's mind may be the sound of one hand clapping.

Even Another Presidential Candidate Rick Perry, former governor of the state and man whose reputation as dimwit became so universal that he was forced to don professorial eyewear in an attempt to look like he had gone off and learn'd something, was humiliated by Abbott's implicit presumption that our American troops, the ones we all promised to Support(TM) on now-faded bumperstickers and imported Chinese-made magnets, were untrustworthy and worthy of keeping an eye on.

“It’s OK to question your government. I do it on a regular basis. But the military is something else,” Perry, a potential 2016 contender, told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday.

“Our military is quite trustworthy. The civilian leadership, you can always question that, but not the men and women in uniform,” he added.

There's the rub, of course. Top Republicans will eagerly give the wink-and-nod to theories that posit the current president of the United States to be a secret Muslim or secret Kenyan or just secretly black as blackity black-black but this conspiracy theory revolves around the American military doing wrong, and criticizing the American military is right-the-hell-out. You do not do that, if you are a Republican on the campaign trail. You do not do that if you are a Republican and wish to ever campaign for anything ever again. Abbott's error, and one shared most conspicuously by Ted Cruz, is forgetting the essential pretended-at difference between those conservative thoughts you can confess to and embracing the thoughts of an even farther-right contingent that is distinctly and proudly un-American.

It's not an easy line to walk, given that being un-American is considered a pretty fine thing to be in certain conservative circles these days. Gov. Rick Perry teased audiences with the thought of his state seceding from the union rather than follow American laws that he might not personally be keen on. Gov. Greg Abbott sent off a letter asking state forces to "monitor" whether troops from that union were doing anything while traveling through his state that might be construed as occupation. You can do both these things while waving an American flag and carrying a pocket Constitution, because patriots these days are pretty sure the nation they love and the troops they support are all just one Walmart tunnel away from burrowing into their basement, capturing them, and spiriting them away so that ISIS can invade unimpeded. Being a Patriot comes with the requirement, in certain circles, to be the stupidest person you yourself know or have ever met. You are not a true "Patriot" unless you see secret plots behind even the smallest shrubs, and can offer proof for each merely by reading the expiration dates off the cans in your kitchen cupboards and piecing together the narrative from there. So yes, that's right: Far-right patriotism now consists not of Supporting the Troops(TM), but of suspecting those troops are coming to enslave you. Because you, you little flag-waving gun-toting coal-rolling beer-bellied guttersnipe, are the only thing standing between the great forces of the United States military, all branches, and their secret goal of turning over Texas to th' Muslims.

So no, there are no words to properly convey just how bone-rattlingly stupid the theory that 'Merican forces are coming to take the 'Merican state of Texas away from 'Mericans and give it back to 'Merica because Walmart, Mexico, Obama, ISIS, and 'Merica. It cannot be done. There is no explanation for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordering his own "military" leaders to keep tabs on the troops—because some collection of desert-dwelling shitstains got it into their heads that Navy Walmart Mexico Obama ISIS martial law—that does not revolve around the unanswerable question of whether Abbott is so willing to pander to the paint-drinking fringe that he is willing to insult every last troop, or whether he furrowed his brow, a move that only narrowly avoided popping the top of his empty skull clean off and sending it rolling across his office like a runaway china saucer, and deemed that yes, this is just reasonable enough a concern to deserve a good honest looking-into. There is no way to do it. A handful of the stupidest people in America and Their Favorite Governor, and their Favorite Senator besides, have managed to elevate just another one of the thousands of stupidest fucking things on the internet into the stuff of executive action and national news reports, and not one of those patriots appears to have done the right thing and swallowed cyanide tablets rather than foisting themselves and the stupidest thing anyone ever thought onto the rest of us.

Good show. No, really. I mean it when I say that we have now have a good clue as to what the event horizon would look like, if a nation-state or some ragged part thereof became so collectively, irredeemably stupid that it could no longer form a coherent government and instead collapsed in on itself in an armed-to-the-teeth orgy of masturbatory terror and theory-having. It is the only logical endpoint to elected state officials passing laws demanding that climate change not exist, or gritty-haired yokels holding political summits to demand America teach the controversy about whether God does or does not want you to believe in dinosaurs. It is the culmination of all the other stupid theories collecting themselves and achieving, via constant enablement by profoundly stupid or cowardly politicians not willing to dismiss even the most lunatic premise if dismissing it would lose the votes of stupid people, a sort of shambling stupidity-enabled sentience of its own. It is a stupidity high water mark, a stupidity tsunami—and just plain the stupidest thing the rest of us have ever been exposed to. Whatever you were aiming for, you top-notch sleuths of secret military planning, you have surpassed it. Surpassed means—never mind, you will have to look it up.

The Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory, as embraced by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Actual Senator Ted Cruz, is the one stupid theory to bind them all. It is stupidity elevated to such a sublime form that we all pray the Green Berets really do take over Texas one tunnel-having Walmart at a time, just because the rest of us don't think you people should be allowed to keep going out in public anymore.