When ESPN did the empty-net story that Barack Obama planned to ban fishing, America reached a new level of ignorant media bloviating (pardon the redundancy).

Not even Matthew Continetti, author of the ridiculous book, The Persecution of Sarah Palin, can match the fish story pound for pound on the preposterous scale. Palin, like Wanda in A Fish Called Wanda, has double and triple-crossed her way to all the diamonds. As Dwight Eisenhower’s granddaughter Susan said to Continetti Friday on Bill Maher’s Realtime, Palin’s “persecuted all the way to the bank.”

Anyway, here’s how ESPN’s outdoor writer Robert Montgomery put the newest Obama’s-gonna-get-you-if-you-don’t-watch-out conspiracy theory:

The Obama administration has ended public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing some of the nation’s oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters.

Sure ‘nough, a google search of “obama fishing ban” is already producing a quarter of a million hits. America should replace “e pluribus unum” with “hook, line and sinker.”

If I have it straight from the teacups, Obama’s going to take away our guns and our fishing poles, appoint death panels, turn America into an African Socialist Paradise, condemn all white people to second-class citizenry in a reverse apartheid, destroy Christianity in a secular humanist fit and, probably, cut in line at the movies.

Meanwhile, our ever-vigilant media keep legitimizing the nuttiness. By today’s media standards, Charles Manson was a respectable spiritual leader with a few bad-apple followers. Hey, they report, we deride.

Arizona has banned brown people. Minnesota wants to pass a constitutional amendment saying their state is exempt from federal laws unless ratified by three-quarters of the state Legislature. Oklahoma wants a militia to go to war with the feds. Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s on the cover of Newsweek.  Perry, in the grand tradition of George Wallace and Lester Maddox, has been carrying the segregationist banner, talking up secession and states’ rights.

Why, I want to ask, should we stop with state secession? I mean, if I said I wanted to secede personally, I’d be branded a traitor, added to no-fly lists, and written about in short stories like “The Man Without a Country” that would become mandatory curricula in all public schools. What if my town wants to secede from state control? Not a bad idea for Austin, by the way. I know, I know, the tenth amendment and all, but I’m talking logic here, not law. Can a book club secede? A Moose Lodge?

It’s all fish tales all the time, and everyone knows it. But it’s not about the one that got away, it’s about a yesterday that never was. And all these frightened folk – most of them well off economically – are worried the government will take their fishing poles?

There was this game warden on the Trinity River in East Texas. Call him Wes. Wes noticed this guy coming back to the docks at Riverside everyday with a boatload of fish. Suspiciously, he didn’t have a rod or reel. Wes figured he was dynamiting fish, an illegal practice that involves lighting a stick, dropping it the water, then netting all the stunned fish that floated to the surface.

So Wes put on some overalls and an old hat early one morning and asked the angler if he could go with him. They got out on the river, morning mist still rising off the water, and the guy pulled a stick of dynamite from under his seat and lit it. “You’re under arrest,” said Wes. Without blinking, the guy handed the lit stick to Wes. “You gonna talk or fish?” he asked.

That’s what I want to say to the media. Are you going to talk or fish? The nation’s about to explode before your eyes and you keep reporting on Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account. Before you quit, though, let me know if ‘yahoo’ refers to her email or her cerebral cortex.

You know where to find me. Gone fishin’.