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Did Sarah Palin just join Donald Trump as a ‘birther’?

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Matt Sayles/AP

(Read caption) Donald Trump arrives at the 83rd Academy Awards on Feb. 27 in Hollywood. Trump, who may be a 2012 presidential candidate, is a "birther" challenging President Obama to prove he was born in the United States.

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Forget primary elections and party caucuses. In many ways, the long, strange trip to picking major party presidential candidates is one of self-selection.

How so? Like how they focus attention on themselves in ways that appear – how to put this delicately – obsessively weird.

Which brings us, quite logically, to Donald Trump and Sarah Palin.

The billionaire developer and reality show star has been going on and on about President Obama’s place of birth, claiming now that he’s sent investigators to Hawaii to find out the truth. And now he’s gotten into a snit with a New York Times columnist over the subject.

Hello? Did Trump not think that his hometown newspaper might find what seems at the moment to be his main campaign issue…obsessively weird?

In her typically funny op-ed column, Gail Collins at the New York Times had had it with Trump.

“In a potential Republican field that includes Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, it’s hard to come up with a line of attack loopy enough to stand out from the pack. But darned if Trump didn’t manage to find one,” she wrote the other day.

Then she hammered Trump on the two things he’s best known for.

“Trump’s main argument for why he should be taken seriously as a presidential contender is his business success. Has Obama ever hosted a long-running reality series? Owned a bankruptcy-bound chain of casinos? Put his name on a flock of really unattractive high-rise apartment buildings? No! … ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ is widely regarded as terrible and cheesy programming, but, actually, it has its moments. I recently saw an episode in which a former top model had a serious discussion with a fellow competitor about whether this was the 20th century or the 21st. You can’t get stuff like that on ‘Mad Men.’”

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In a letter to the Times, Trump fired back.

Repeating the litany of birther assertions – that Obama’s Kenyan grandmother “stated on tape that she was there to watch the birth” when the full tape shows her emphatically denying that – Trump goes after Collins personally.

“Actually, I have great respect for Ms. Collins in that she has survived so long with so little talent,” he wrote. “Her storytelling ability and word usage (coming from me, who has written many bestsellers), is not at a very high level.”

Sarah Palin, for now at least, appears to have slipped to second place behind Trump among the most colorful of the GOP’s presidential teasers – perhaps tied there with Michelle Bachman, who seems to have had a hard time deciding whether she was for or against Friday night’s FY 2011 budget deal.

Which may be why Palin took the opportunity to give Trump an attaboy on the birther deal.

“I appreciate that 'The Donald' wants to spend his resources in getting to the bottom of something that so interests him and many Americans – you know, more power to him,” Palin said Saturday on Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine.” “He’s not just throwing stones from the sidelines, he’s digging in there, he’s paying for researchers to find out why President Obama would have spent $2 million to not show his birth certificate.”

Well, we’ll see. “Many Americans” may be interested in whether Obama was born in Hawaii – probably about the same number who hear black helicopters just over the horizon. Like Trump, they probably haven’t seen the evidence that Obama in fact was born in the good old U.S. of A. as gathered by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center and posted on its web site. (The rumor-busting outfit says so too.)

RELATED: Donald Trump says he might run for president. Three reasons he won't.

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