Gallup didn’t poll on it, but an Iranian news service says Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could be more popular than President Obama. (Jason DeCrow/AP)

The Fars News Agency last week ran an Onion story about a fake Gallup poll finding “77 percent of rural Caucasian voters … would much rather go to a baseball game or have a beer with Ahmadinejad, a man who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and has had numerous political prisoners executed, than spend time with Obama.”

Fars later issued an apology, but it justified the error by hinting that it didn’t see the Onion’s story as so outlandish as to be unbelievable. In fact, the unnamed editor of the news agency’s English service opined that just about anyone — presumably, including Ahmadinejad — could best Obama in a popularity contest.

“Although it does not justify our mistake, we do believe that if a free opinion poll is conducted in the U.S., a majority of Americans would prefer anyone outside the U.S. political system to President Barack Obama and American statesmen,” the editor said.

Fars also noted that in getting snookered into mistaking an Onion story for the real deal, it is in august company, and went on to take swipes at the New York Times, the Beijing Evening News and the BBC.