Focus on the Family is starting to look less like an intolerant right-wing pressure group, and more like a sad, vaguely embarrassing, intolerant right-wing cry for attention.

FoF founder Dr. James C. Dobson achieved the nearly-impossible this week: he upstaged his pal George Bush’s inauguration with a singularly bizarre rant accusing SpongeBob SquarePants of pro-homosexual propaganda.

Lest anyone think his comments were the result of a little too much pre-inaugural partying, his spokesperson ramped up the weirdness earlier today, talking about “manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids”.

What’s the fuss over? A music video for a remix of “We Are Family,” featuring the boxy yellow one and promoting tolerance. The video actually doesn’t refer to sexuality of any kind; Dobson’s pantaloons are in a twist because of an accompanying lesson plan developed in cooperation with a well-known gay and lesbian front group… the Anti-Defamation League.

Also appearing in the video: Barney, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Big Bird, Bob the Builder… the usual lineup in the homosexual conspiracy. And that’s where the problem lies for Dobson and like-minded (if that’s the word for it) individuals.

Because for a group whose self-proclaimed constituency is families, they’ve just vilified a cast of characters who represent the last, best hope for millions of parents with toddlers in mid-meltdown.

Take it from someone who’s been there: when two-year-old Tyler is shattering windows with a screaming tantrum, even Dobson’s most hard-core supporters might be willing to risk eternal damnation if dropping Dora the Explorer into the DVD player can buy a few minutes of divine peace.