Bored during his winter school break, Firas Alkhateed, a senior history major at the University of Illinois, crafted the picture of Obama with the recognizable clown makeup using Adobe’s Photoshop computer software.

Alkhateed had been tinkering with the program to improve the looks of photos he had taken on his clunky Kodak camera. The Joker project was his grandest undertaking yet. Using a tutorial he’d found online about how to “Jokerize” portraits, he downloaded the October 23 Time Magazine cover of Obama and began digitally painting over it.

Four or five hours later, he happily had his product. . . . Alkhateed says he wasn’t actively trying to cover his tracks, but he did want to lay low. He initially had concerns about …

… connecting his name with anything critical of the president — especially living in Chicago, where people are “very, very liberal,” he said.

“After Obama was elected, you had all of these people who basically saw him as the second coming of Christ,” Alkhateed said. “From my perspective, there wasn’t much substance to him.”

Then it went viral. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Reader Ron Wilson writes: “A Palestinian-American is the culprit? Boy, the narratives are getting really screwed up for Obama. At least he is delivering on the ‘change’ part, wonder how he is liking it?”