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Have you ever watched Fox News’ resident madman Glenn Beck and wondered to yourself, “What horrid intellectual shithole gave birth to this cretin?” I have! Well, according to Salon, Beck’s philosophical mentor is an obscure McCarthy-era far right “thinker” named Cleon Skousen, a hero to conspiracy theorists and members of The John Birch Society for many years, but a man whose name had pretty much faded into obscurity until the former heroin junkie began touting his writings, which he claimed changed his life, on the air a few years ago.

Skousen, a former FBI agent and police chief of Salt Lake City, is most famous for writing two books: The Naked Communist and The 5000 Year Leap, which both essentially argue that America is under attack by stealth conspiratorial communist forces that are slowly eroding the constitution in an effort to turn the country into a communist regime. Reports Salon:

Whatever the circumstances, Beck really began touting Skousen in the latter half of 2007. The first brief mention of Skousen in the online archives of Beck’s radio show is Sept. 24, 2007. Less than two months later, Beck interviewed conservative pundit David Horowitz on his radio program. He asked him, “Have you ever read any Skousen? Have you read — do you remember ‘The Naked Communist’? I went back and reread that, it was printed in the 1950s. I reread that recently. You look at all the things the communists wanted to accomplish. It’s all been done.” Horowitz agreed.

The very next week, Bill Bennett appeared on Beck’s radio program and received the same question. “Are you familiar with Skousen?” asked Beck. When Bennett replied yes, Beck gushed. “He’s fantastic,” he said. “I went back and I read ‘The Naked Communist’ and at the end of that Skousen predicted [that] someday soon you won’t be able to find the truth in schools or in libraries or anywhere else because it won’t be in print anymore. So you must collect those books. It’s an idea I read from Cleon Skousen from his book in the 1950s, ‘The Naked Communist,’ and where he talked about someday the history of this country’s going to be lost because it’s going to be hijacked by intellectuals and communists and everything else. And I think we’re there.”

Beck continued to mention the book during 2008, but his Skousen obsession really kicked in as the 912 concept began to take shape. Even before Obama’s inauguration, Beck had a game plan for a movement with Skousen at the center. On his Dec. 18, 2008, radio show, one month before Obama took office, Beck introduced his audience to the idea of a “September twelfth person.”

“The first thing you could do,” he said, “is get ‘The 5,000 Year Leap.’ Over my book or anything else, get ‘The 5,000 Year Leap.’ You can probably find it in the book section of GlennBeck.com, but read that. It is the principle. Please, No. 1 thing: Inform yourself about who we are and what the other systems are all about. ‘The 5,000 Year Leap’ is the first part of that. Because it will help you understand American free enterprise … Make that dedication of becoming a Sept. 12 person and I will help you do it next year.”

Since Beck began touting Skousen to his audience, the publisher of The 5000 Year Leap issued a new edition of the book with a forward written by Beck. After going on sale just a few months ago, the book has sold 250,000 copies, spending the entire summer on the Amazon top 15 bestseller list.