Televangelist Pat Robertson is in hot water, among those who pay attention to him anymore, for suggesting on his radio show that the United States assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. According to the Associated Press:

“We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,” Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network’s “The 700 Club.”

“We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,” he continued. “It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”

Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush, accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous.

“You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,” Robertson said. “It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war … and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.”

Your first instinct might be to condemn Robertson, but then people might actually pay attention to him again. If they ever open up a Bad Public Speaking Hall of Fame, Roberston will be a first-ballot inductee. He’ll be joined in his class by Colorado’s Rep. Tom Tancredo and Focus on the Family barking dog James Dobson as prime examples of how to get people to tune out to whatever message you’re trying to get across.

Robertson once suggested that the State Department should be blown up with a nuclear device and has also said that feminism encourages women to “kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians,” which makes perfect sense except for the destruction of capitalism part.

The former Christian Coalition founder, Roberston may think he is doing good by speaking out and ‘keeping it real,’ but as Tancredo and Dobson are finding out, all he’s doing is causing the rational-minded moderate people of the world to tune him out. Since Tancredo went off the deep-end a few weeks back, culminating with his comments that the U.S. should consider bombing Mecca and other holy sites, he’s gone from being a recognized voice on the subject of illegal immigration to a nutcase who will say anything to get his name in the paper.

Dobson, meanwhile, just keeps digging his own grave of irrelevance with statements that SpongeBob Squarepants promotes homosexuality and stem-cell research is akin to testing that Nazis practiced. Dobson broke two fundamental rules there: 1) don’t attack cartoon characters, because people will only laugh at you, and 2) don’t ever compare something with Nazis unless 99 percent of the people are going to agree with you. Otherwise, you just look like a guy who will say anything to get his name in the paper.

People find this sort of nonsense-speak entertaining to a degree, sort of like a lesser version of Howard Stern. But if you insist on saying wild and crazy things, you can’t expect anybody to really listen to you anymore. They may hear you, but they definitely don’t hear what you’re saying. So, say it loud! Say it crazy! Just don’t expect anyone to think you’re saying anything important.