Ever since the heat of the 2008 campaign, a handful of conspiracy theorists have circulated the rumor that Bill Ayers ghostwrote Barack Obama's first book, "Dreams from my Father."

Now Ayers is coming forward to confirm the rumor, and he's demanding royalties!

DISCLAIMER: Ayers is joking, of course.

But it's nevertheless strange that he's jokingly claimed responsibility for writing the book twice in recent days.

First, here's how Ayers responded to a question on the matter from National Journal:

National Journal caught up with Ayers at a recent book festival where he was exhorting a small crowd of listeners to remember that they are citizens, not subjects. "Open your eyes," he said. "Pay attention. Be astonished. Act, and doubt." When he finished speaking, we put the authorship question right to him. For a split second, Ayers was nonplussed. Then an Abbie Hoffmanish, steal-this-book-sort-of-smile lit up his face. He gently took National Journal by the arm. "Here's what I'm going to say. This is my quote. Be sure to write it down: 'Yes, I wrote Dreams From My Father. I ghostwrote the whole thing. I met with the president three or four times, and then I wrote the entire book.'" He released National Journal's arm, and beamed in Marxist triumph. "And now I would like the royalties."

Second, here's an encounter between Ayers and a conservative blogger:

But he didn’t scowl, and didn’t run off as he has been known to do. Instead, unprompted, he blurted out: “I wrote ‘Dreams From My Father… Michelle asked me to.” Then he added “And if you can prove it we can split the royalties.”

Anne responded, “Stop pulling my leg!”

But he repeated insistently, “I wrote it, the wording was similar [to Ayers’ other writing.]”

Anne responded, “I believe you probably heavily edited it.”

Ayers stated firmly, “I wrote it.”

So what's going on here? The most likely scenario is that Ayers is simply amused by the endless theories surrounding his relationship (or lack thereof) with Obama and has decided to stoke the fire for fun.