The New York Daily News reported yesterday that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), always on the lookout for a media stunt, delivered a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture demanding the government refuse to renew the exhibitor license of the Ringling Bros. circus. Looks like the media whiz-kids at PETA screwed this one up, though. The same newspaper reports today in a follow up article that the USDA already renewed Ringling’s permit—last week. Oops.

This attempted offensive strategy is just the latest from animal rights groups like PETA and the so-called “Humane Society” of the United States (HSUS) against the circus. Like most groups pursuing an animals-first, people-last ideology, they want to shut the circus down entirely and “liberate” the elephants. But do their campaigns deserve to be taken seriously?

Ringling notes that the USDA has already inspected its circus five times this year. So much for PETA’s accusation of animal “abuse.” And a cadre of animal rights groups including the Fund for Animals (now part of HSUS) pursued a federal lawsuit against the circus operator for almost a decade. How’d that turn out?

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in December, writing that the animal-rights plaintiffs had a collective pay-to-play arrangement with a key witness in the case. That witness’s testimony was so full of holes that the judge actually used the word “demolished” to describe his credibility. Now these circus-haters are facing a federal lawsuit for their scheme. And it was filed under the mobster-oriented Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law.

Today, PETA is left calling for the USDA to revoke Ringling’s permit and wiping the egg-substitute off its face. Our guess is the USDA isn’t going to throw PETA a bone (or a peanut, for that matter). Maybe they—and the organized racket going after the circus—should just hang it up. Before they get trampled in the court of public opinion, that is.