I don’t have the slightest idea how NASA gets its spaceships off the ground and up into space. If you sat me down in a warehouse and gave me every tool I would need, I could spend the rest of my life trying to build a spaceship and about the closest thing I would ever build would be a “Rocket Flyer” red wagon.

I am fully aware of my limitations in regards to the physics of space flight, and I’m OK with it. If NASA called me tomorrow and invited me to Houston to advise them on how to build a craft that would get to Mars, I would happily go in order to take part in the experience. I would also make it clear that I have no idea what I am talking about, and I would probably think less of NASA for believing that I would have been a good advisor on space travel.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I read this article earlier this week from the online publication Raw Story:

President George W. Bush met privately with Focus on the Family Founder and Chairman James Dobson and approximately a dozen Christian right leaders last week to rally support for his policies on Iraq, Iran and the so-called “war on terror.”

“I was invited to go to Washington DC to meet with President Bush in the White House along with 12 or 13 other leaders of the pro-family movement,” Dobson disclosed on his radio program Monday. “And the topic of the discussion that day was Iraq, Iran and international terrorism. And we were together for 90 minutes and it was very enlightening and in some ways disturbing too.”

Details of the meeting were disclosed by Dobson during Monday’s edition of his Focus on the Family radio program.

Dobson described Bush as “upbeat and determined and convinced, adding, “I wish the American people could have sat in on that meeting we had.”

Dobson went on to enumerate a series of meetings convened by Christian right leaders in Washington to discuss the supposedly existential threat to the United States from a nuclear Iran.

“I heard about this danger [from Iran] not only at the White House but from other pro-family leaders that I met during that week in Washington,” he said. “Many people in a position to know are talking about the possibility of losing a city to nuclear or biological or chemical attack. And if we can lose one we can lose ten.

“If we can lose ten we can lose a hundred,” he added, “especially if North Korea and Russia and China pile on.”

Later in his broadcast, during a discussion about Iran with author and self-proclaimed “prophecy expert” Joel Rosenberg, Dobson drew a parallel between current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Adolf Hitler.

“The world looked at Hitler and just didn’t believe him and tried to appease him the way we’re hearing in Washington today,” Dobson remarked. “You know, the President seems to me does understand this, as I told you from that meeting I had with him the other day, but even there it feels like somebody ought to be standing up and saying, `We are being threatened and we are going to meet this with force — whatever’s necessary.'”

I won’t say that James Dobson isn’t a qualified expert on Iran, but let’s put it this way: Dobson is the same man who famously said that both SpongeBob Squarepants and the penguins from the movie “Happy Feet” are homosexual. Both SpongeBob and the penguins, of course, are animated fictional characters. Dobson is also quite animated. If only he were also fictional.

I’ll freely admit that I don’t have much confidence in President Bush’s ability to oversee a war on Greenland, much less a conflict with Iran. But at least I could always take comfort in the belief that he was surrounding himself with qualified advisors. The fact that Bush is calling on Dobson for advice on what to do in Iran is comical, yes, but it’s also very, very scary.

I don’t know a damn thing about space flight, and I’m pretty sure that Dobson doesn’t know jack Shiite about Iran. You want to ask Dobson about Evangelical Christian beliefs? Go for it. You want to ask him about his background as a psychologist? Go nuts. You want to ask Dobson why there are so many gay cartoon characters on television? Be my guest. But please, please, please do not ask this man what he thinks we should do about dealing with a potential nuclear power such as Iran. Even if Bush isn’t really taking Dobson’s advice seriously – and we know from recent history that Bush doesn’t really take anyone’s advice seriously – it makes both the White House and the United States look ridiculous to consult a glorified televangelist like Dobson on foreign policy issues.

Who else is being invited to Bush’s policy meetings? Let’s see what Carmelo Anthony thinks about the problems with the World Bank. Better yet, call Jay Leno and get his take on third-world debt relief. Or maybe Paris Hilton is available to discuss reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

Great leaders know what they don’t know, and then they surround themselves with people who know about things they don’t. We are where we are, and it’s no mystery how we got here.