What with all the legal imbroglios currently surrounding the people who finished first and second in the 2016 presidential election, it’s tough to make room for the woes of the also-rans. But they’re still out there and grabbing the occasional headline, including Green Party candidate Jill Stein. We learned back in December that the Senate was looking into certain “affairs” she was involved in with the Russians, completely separate from any allegations plaguing the President this year. I’m not sure how much peril Dr. Stein is actually in from all of this, but it at least gives her the opportunity to get some face time with the media.

That was the case again this weekend when she was interviewed for a local news show in Boston. The Stein version of the Russia, Russia, Russia story came up and she was quick to dismiss it. You see, it was all a “smear campaign” against her dating back quite some time. And who was responsible for it? The GOP? Vladimir Putin? The Lizard People? Nope. It was Hillary Clinton’s crew at the DNC. (CBS Boston)

Green Party nominee for president Jill Stein says there was absolutely no contact from the Russians to her campaign aimed at influencing her behavior during the 2016 election…

“This is a year’s worth of a smear campaign that began actually by some Democratic party operatives after the embarrassing emails revealed collusion by the Democratic party with Hillary Clinton’s campaign in order to interfere with our election,” Stein said. “The same people who launched that smear campaign are now celebrating that I’m being investigated, really as a consequence of this smear.”

Fascinating. But what about, you know… that picture? The one showing her hanging out with Vladimir Putin at a banquet honoring the RT network?

Not to worry. Stein has an explanation for that as well. “It was of service to the American people to be heard any way that I could.”

I see. In order to be heard in any way you could by the American people, you were having dinner in Moscow, honoring a television station which almost nobody in the United States had access to and probably didn’t watch if they did. Okay then!

To at least some degree I have some sympathy for Stein as she makes her case here. In order to believe that there was some “collusion” between the Russians and her campaign, we would have to believe that the Russians actually thought she would be worth colluding with. You can attribute all sorts of qualities to Moscow and their various hackers… sneaky, disingenuous, corrupt. But they’re not exactly stupid. What would they see in gaining any traction with Jill Stein? I suppose it’s conceivable that if they thought the race was going to be close in some battleground states she might be able to play the spoiler by draining some votes away from Hillary, similar to the effect Ralph Nader had on Al Gore in the 2000 Florida ballot. But that’s a serious long shot to invest very heavily in.

Could the Russians have wanted something else from her? Really, it’s hard to picture what she had to offer. More likely is the idea that she was just another figure in the 2016 political mix who merited an invite “just in case” and nothing really serious or nefarious went on. Or perhaps she’s right. Maybe it’s all a big smear campaign. And if Stein is content to blame Hillary Clinton’s people for it, who am I to naysay her?