I like historical fiction — good historical fiction, such as the works of Bernard Cornwell and Ken Follett. Good historical fiction has an imaginary storyline and characters, while the culture, politics, technology and zeitgeist of the period in which the story takes place have been researched with care and are accurate. Readers learn something of what it was actually like to live in 9th century Britain, for example.

Television and movies, on the other hand, are sometimes less than historically accurate. The NBC series Merlin, which is supposedly set in early 6th century Britain, has the action taking place in buildings with gothic arches, ribbed groin vaults and flying buttresses (not to mention the armor and weaponry). This just bugs the heck out of me (and, I’m sure, other historical fiction fans). Pardon me, but gothic arches, groin vaults and flying buttresses weren’t developed as elements of Gothic architecture until at least the 12th century.

This makes exactly as much sense as King Henry VIII watching football on his 52-inch, 3D plasma HDTV. Or Christopher Columbus discovering the New World from the air in his F-22 Raptor. But — most viewers don’t care or don’t know the difference ““ and really what does it matter because Merlin and King Arthur are generally fictitious anyway. After all, the show also features a talking dragon.

But even these glaring anachronisms are not as bad as the Tea Party ““ a mob of doddering, white nostalgians who want America to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear when, they imagine, we were all self-sufficient, didn’t need government, and those pesky minorities were kept under control.

What — are we living in the wild west? Are we mountain men, living off the land, occasionally visiting Fort Vancouver to trade our beaver pelts for hard tack and black powder? Are we Vikings, making our living by plundering settlements on the East Anglia coast? Are we ice-age hunter-gatherers, living in caves in Europe and competing with Neanderthals for food?

Or are we living in the 21st century, in a complex world where, in civilized countries, citizens cooperate through government to provide necessary, efficient services?

To sit in an armchair, read a book, and experience a vague, romantic longing for a simpler (if not more barbaric) world is okay. To try to turn this anachronistic fantasy into a political movement is just delusional. Thank God our government is not going to shrink away to nothing just because a few fossils congregate to ogle Sarah Palin.

As Mrs. Lulabelle Libby, my seventh-grade English teacher, used to say, “Okay, class, we’ve had our little joke.”

We’ve had our little Tea Party ““ now it’s time to get back to the real work of running a country.