This shouldn’t bother me as much as it does. Rodman’s a kook and a has-been; there’s less than zero reason to care what he thinks. It’s not so much that I “care,” though, as that I’m dumbfounded at watching any American go whole hog on North Korean propaganda. I can’t explain it. The temptation is to assume that he doesn’t know what goes on there, just because no one who does could possibly mouth the words he’s saying in the clip. But he must know, right? Even if he’s never read a word about NK, surely someone in his orbit took him aside and filled him in when he happened to mention, “Hey, I’m going to Pyongyang for some HBO thing.” The guys from VICE who are with him surely know. Or knew: Maybe that “epic feast” that Kim held for them helped them forget.

Ending his unexpected round of basketball diplomacy in North Korea on Friday, ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman called leader Kim Jong Un an “awesome guy” and said his father and grandfather were “great leaders.”…

At Pyongyang’s Sunan airport on his way to Beijing, Rodman said it was “amazing” that the North Koreans were “so honest.” He added that Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founder, “were great leaders.”

“He’s proud, his country likes him — not like him, love him, love him,” Rodman said of Kim Jong Un. “Guess what, I love him. The guy’s really awesome.”

Is he … just being polite to his host, as insane as that sounds? Is he practicing kindergarten diplomacy, i.e. “what all bullies really need is a hug”? Even if you strain to attribute to him some sort of muddled good intention, you run straight into the inescapable fact that he’s whitewashing crimes against humanity here. Holocaust denial is atrocious under any circumstances, but this is like denying the Holocaust after you’ve just come from lunch at the Berghof. I’m honestly surprised Kim didn’t ask him to do a little anti-American propaganda while he was there. Does this sound like a guy who would have refused a request to sit on some anti-aircraft guns north of the DMZ?

Seriously, what’s going on here? Rodman’s a kook, not a sociopath. I think.

Update: Hmmm.