Just when you thought the 2016 presidential election has reached peak absurdity, the cackling prankster gods currently pulling our candidates' marionette strings blessed us with a mini-scandal like Pepe Gate.
This isn't something that we ever expected to type in an article about who Americans will choose to serve in the highest office in our land, but in order to understand today's controversy, it's important that you know who Pepe the Frog is:
Odds are, you're familiar with his face.
You may have seen him on social media, crying in one of those posts you're supposed to relate to, or grinning and saying something snarky in one of those posts that makes you question why you still use Facebook.
But today, Pepe is everywhere for a different reason.
It all goes back to Hillary Clinton's recent comments about half of Trump supporters belonging in a "basket of deplorables"
The meme above was recently posted on Instagram by Trump's son, Donald Trump, Jr.
As you can see, Pepe is a prominently featured member of "The Deplorables."
It may all seem harmless enough, as Pepe is commonly associated with trolling, which is really what the Trump campaign does best.
But as the Clinton campaign pointed out today, there's a sinister side to the seemingly innocent amphibian.
The Clinton campaign posted a statement online today describing Trump's use of Pepe as "horrifying,” noting that the frog has been adopted as a symbol by "white nationalists" and other groups that can best be described as ... well, deplorable.
"In recent months, Pepe’s been almost entirely co-opted by the white supremacists who call themselves the 'alt-right,'" reads the statement from Clinton's team.
"They’ve decided to take back Pepe by adding swastikas and other symbols of anti-semitism and white supremacy."
Clinton's website then quotes a "prominent white supremacist" who told the Daily Beast:
“We basically mixed Pepe in with Nazi propaganda, etc. We built that association."
Given that the connection between Trump and white supremacists has already been an issue several times throughout this campaign, you'd think Trump would issue a statement distancing himself or Pepe, or at least that his son would delete the IG post.
But no. In fact, Trump hasn't even deleted his own social media Pepe posts:
Naturally, his supporters have fired back, claiming that the Hillary campaign is using the Pepe issue to distract from questions about Clinton's health that arose over the weekend following the revelation that the former secretary of state is suffering from pneumonia.
Yes, a cartoon frog, the KKK, and Hillary's lungs are all issues that have been widely discussed in connection with the campaign for the White House in recent weeks.
If you had any remaining doubt that we're in the midst of the most batsh-t presidential election in history, they should long gone by now.