Former Vice Presidential candidate and Philadelphia pholk hero Sarah Palin is currently taking the route back to Alaska that leads through the maximum number television studio in New York City. But despite Mel-Kiper-during-draft-week ubiquity levels, she somehow managed not to offer convincing denials of some of the weirder post-election rumors spread about her.

You know these: didn’t know if Africa was a country or a continent, didn’t know who was in NAFTA, still hadn’t heard about the Marlins trading Mike Jacobs for literally a week after it happened. Now, though, no thanks to her weirdly yiddishy inverted-sentence structure or out-of-order bullet-point argumentation, at least we know that the reported provenance of the rumor — a leak by a McCain policy adviser named Martin Eisenstadt — is false. We know this because of someone named Eitan Gorlin, who is the guy who made Martin Eisenstadt. Who doesn’t exist. Gorlin came clean to the New York Times‘ Richard Perez-Pena.

The Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character. But under the circumstances, why should anyone believe a word they say? œThat™s a really good question, one of the two, Eitan Gorlin, said with a laugh.

…The hoax began a year ago with short videos of a parking valet character, who Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish said was the original idea for a TV series. Soon there were videos showing him driving a car while spouting offensive, opinionated nonsense in praise of Rudolph W. Giuliani. Those videos attracted tens of thousands of Internet hits and a bit of news media attention. When Mr. Giuliani dropped out of the presidential race, the character morphed into Eisenstadt, a parody of a blowhard cable news commentator. Mr. Gorlin said they chose the name because œall the neocons in the Bush administration had Jewish last names and Christian first names.

Eisenstadt became an adviser to Senator John McCain and got a blog, updated occasionally with comments claiming insider knowledge, and other bloggers began quoting and linking to it. It mixed weird-but-true items with false ones that were plausible, if just barely. The inventors fabricated the Harding Institute, named for one of the most scorned presidents, and made Eisenstadt a senior fellow.

The Harding Institute of Freedom and Democracy’s website remains up. And, fake or not, it looks a lot better than Bill Simmons’ blogspot mirror site.