Twenty years ago, then Congressman Dan Burton murdered a watermelon—shot that sucker with a pistol and scattered its seeds everywhere. The melon assassination by the Indiana Republican was one of the more bizarre events during the so-called Whitewater “scandal.” It was part of a full court press by right-wing loonies to link President Bill Clinton and his lovely bride, Hillary, to a cover-up conspiracy involving the death of White House aide Vincent Foster. The GOP selected Independent Counsels and several investigative agencies eventually concluded that clinically depressed Foster committed suicide. But even today, there are crazies running free from lock-ups who believe the Clinton’s conspired to murder not only Foster, but a bunch of other people classified as political enemies and/or folks able to provide incriminating evidence about all sorts of their alleged illegal activities.
Having spent a lot of time in my 30 year muckraking career investigating conspiracy allegations—including time spent snooping around Little Rock, Washington and other sites of the Clinton’s alleged evil-doing in the Whitewater hoax—I consider myself a semi-expert on the subject of nutty claims. Enough strange characters called or showed up on the doorstep to tell me wild yarns, none of of which contributed to my success in winning multiples of every major broadcast journalism award.
I succeeded by following a formula of simple logic in determining the truth or falsity of wacky stories. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Unless, of course, I learned the quacks were outright lies. And by and large I checked out most leads, no matter how bizarre.
Nowadays, far-right Republicans, Tea Party zealots, Fox “News” pundits, and hare-brained radio talk show hosts, the metaphorical ducks quack whatever the hell these guys and girls want to hear. In short, conspiracies emerge and persist based on lies and distortions, often in the face of indisputable evidence to the contrary. I have seen this first hand during many of my investigations—most notably Whitewater and the Mena myth. The right-wing tale links drug smuggler-turned-DEA informant Barry Seal to a vast CIA plot involving Bill Clinton, a couple of other Presidents and just about any government official who traveled within a thousand miles of the tiny Arkansas town of Mena.
The current crop of conspiracy theories about government cover-ups (specifically President Obama) is never-ending. They include the attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, overreaching by the IRS in screening Tea Party related applications for tax exempt designations, misrepresentations by the Administration regarding Affordable Heath Care enrollments… and on and on it goes. But a recent plot that is difficult to write about with a straight face is the right-wing claims that Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy is aimed at enhancing the image of her mama prior to the 2016 Presidential election. No wonder Hillary believes she has been target of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Actually, I’m jealous of people who hallucinate stories. Wish I could have thought of such shortcuts during my reporting days. Instead,I spent all those years digging for documents, corroborating information and promising people to keep their names secret. But now that I’m retired, let me present my own, homegrown conspiracy theories. I feel free to make them up out of thin air. Or, perhaps, with a tiny grain of truth.
First. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is conspiring to ensure that his constituency is dumber than he is. The wunderkind Ivy League graduate, Rhodes Scholar, boy exorcist and all-around smarty-pants Governor has slashed education spending in the state, advocated teaching students that the earth is 6000 years old, and has equivocated on Louisiana adopting a Common Core curriculum. After all, it teaches kids critical thinking. And if young Louisianans begin thinking for themselves rather than allowing Rush Limbaugh and other nuts to form their opinions, Jindal and his right-wing political cohorts will be looking for real jobs instead of spending time in the 32-story annex of the Baton Rouge zoo.
Here’s another conspiracy theory. Jindal opposes the state receiving federal Medicaid funds in hopes that the uninsured poor will be too sick to go to the polls and vote for Democrats. What else can I make-up? Ah, yes. Just hallucinated that the absentee Louisiana Governor attends 12-step meetings in an effort to deal with twin addictions to collecting of accumulating frequent miles and his compulsion to chase network TV cameras. Enough about Jindal, though.
Let me move on to our whore-monger U.S. Senator David Vitter. His decision to run for Governor is a conspiracy to legalize prostitution in Louisiana. And how about the Koch brothers? Their company conspired to steal oil from Native Americans.
Oops! I messed up. That story is factually true. In fact, the Koch oil company paid millions in fines following a congressional investigation, an inquiry spawned by allegations made by a brother of David and Charles Koch. Bill Koch believe he was cheated by his infamous brothers in the division of the family fortune. Read all about these characters in a 2011 Bloomberg article.
Unfortunately, it seems I’m reaching a point of confusing reality with lies and/or half-truths, so I better close this post. Otherwise, I will begin believing my own bullshit and sending job applications to Fox “News” and/or other GOP related organizations.
My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics….and Me is available at amazon.com and independent bookstores (ISBN: 1-4392-3840-5). Also available on Kindle. The book is an account of my checkered career and is guaranteed to provide plenty laughs and tears.