I don’t even know where to begin, y’all. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) now sits atop the Republican field in the Iowa caucuses. He is the new flavor of the month, the new “Anybody but Mitt Romney” pageant winner and the latest front-runner who should be disqualified out of hand as a candidate for president of the United States.

Until now, we had no reason to pay too much attention to the Gold Standard-lovin’-war-hatin’ crazy uncle of the Republican field. But now that it looks like he could actually win the Hawkeye State contest (and possibly render it irrelevant from that day forward), previously known things are coming to light. And they’re ugly.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Paul literally attached his name to newsletters that published vile, racist statements about African Americans. Some of the greatest hits were compiled by the Atlantic in “The Story Behind Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletters.”

“Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

“We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.”

After the Los Angeles riots, one article in a newsletter claimed, “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”

And the magazine provides a link to a 1996 Dallas Morning News story with this choice Paul quote. “If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be.”

As my dear friend Ryan would say, “Wow. Just wow.”

Kudos to Gloria Borger of CNN for trying to hold the cranky congressman accountable yesterday. When she asked whether he objected to racist statements being published under his name, Paul said, “Why don’t you go back and look at what I said yesterday on CNN and what I’ve said for 20 something years. 22 years ago? I didn’t write them, I disavow them, That’s it.” He complained that people have been “pestering” him for 20 years about the newsletters with his name on them, which he insists he never wrote, never read and now disavows. But Borger persisted — to the point that Paul pulled off his mike and skedaddled.

Paul can run but he can’t hide. And as the old Teddy Pendergrass song goes, “You can’t hide from yourself/everywhere you go/there you are.”

The Republican Party has a serious problem. It is mired with candidates who either could win the nomination but deservedly flame out in the general election or could possibly win the general election but not get the nomination because they’re rational or have no corrosive race issues smoldering somewhere. Previous flavors-of-the-month — Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Herman Cain — had no business running for president, given their disqualifying baggage.

Now we can add Paul to the list.