Harry Shearer makes an interesting connection between the fringe birther movement questioning the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s citizenship and recent presidential history:
The reason for the growth of birtherism, I’m suggesting, lies in the history of the last two presidencies. Bill Clinton was reviled by Republicans, partly because he won and partly because he won with the aid of a third-party candidate (Ross Perot), meaning that he enjoyed a plurality, but not a majority of the popular vote. George W. Bush was reviled by Democrats because he didn’t win the popular vote at all, and was handed the electoral vote by a 5-4 decision of a Supreme Court so unsure of its reasoning that it insisted its decision in Bush v. Gore not be used as a precedent.
The opposition, in both cases, was fueled, energized, and supercharged to a point of near mania by the whiff of illegitimacy. Both the opposition to Clinton and the opposition to Bush drew power, endurance, and bile from the feeling that the incumbent was a rank usurper.