At the very least, Boehner should have added: "Even if it's preposterous." A 2010 CNN poll found that 11% of respondents believe Obama was "definitely" not born in the United States and 16% said he "probably" was not. A Pew survey taken at roughly the same time found that one in five Americans thought Obama was a Muslim; 34% of conservative Republicans held that belief.

No one would argue that Boehner singlehandedly can extinguish these political urban legends. But he is in a powerful position to preach reality to his own partisans. That, Mr. Speaker, is your job.