Everyone's seen Rosie O'Donnell's aborted attempts to mimic the success of Oprah Winfrey. She's tried the talk show, and she's tried the self-titled magazine. Now it seems she's aiming for a "Kook of the Month" Club.
O'Donnell, who once called George Bush a "war criminal" who "should be tried at the Hague" and who thinks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured into giving up fake confessions, has now given credence to what has to be the absurdest Grand Conspiracy theory in decades: the "World Trade Center Tower No. 7 cover-up." This is the belief that WTC No. 7 was deliberately blown up to coincide with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
Asked recently by co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, "Do you believe the government had anything to do with the attack of 9/11?" Rosie responded, "No, but" — this is what's known as the "affirmative no" — "I do believe that it's the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel. I do believe that it defies physics for the World Trade Center tower 7 — building 7, which collapsed in on itself — it is impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved. World Trade Center 7. World Trade [Center] 1 and 2 got hit by planes — 7, miraculously, the first time in history, steel was melted by fire. It is physically impossible."
Rosie goes on to say it's "beyond ignorant" and "defies reason" to say WTC No. 7 — which fell hours after being damaged by falling debris from the other towers, which hit the tower with a force described as equal to "a volcanic eruption" — wasn't imploded. (If you're concerned, Popular Mechanics responded to O'Donnell's comments at www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/911myths/4213805.html.
Versions of Rosie's theory inhabit the kook fringes of the Internet. For example, a Google search using the terms Bigfoot UFOs WTC7 yielded 67,400 results. That means there are over 67,000 web pages containing not one or two but all three terms — Bigfoot, UFOs, and WTC7. So chances are, if you're a Sasquatchophile, you've likely encountered Rosie's theory along with the latest UFO sightings and Loch Ness Monster news.
In the theory, the Sept. 11 attacks that caused all the buildings surrounding WTC No. 7 to fall, damaging it (but not enough!), were orchestrated to distract everyone from realizing that the real goal was detonating WTC No. 7. It seems the building collapsed cleanly … too cleanly. Why that building? Look who was in it. As Rosie puts on her blog, WTC No. 7 "contained offices of the FBI, Department of Defense, IRS (which contained prodigious amounts of corporate tax fraud, including Enron's), US Secret Service, Securities & Exchange Commission (with more stock fraud records), and Citibank's Salomon Smith Barney, the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management and many other financial institutions." Clearly, that proves everything.
So why not just take out the one building? Well, that apparently would make the conspiracy too obvious. You have to waste the whole haystack so no one suspects your plot to destroy the needle. (If you're not familiar with Grand Conspiracy theorizing, here's a quick primer: one, whatever happened was perfectly planned and orchestrated by the alleged conspirators; two, whatever seems to negate the inferred perfect planning was itself perfectly planned and orchestrated to seem like a negation, which proves just how perfect the planning and follow-through were. The theory is never falsifiable.)
Naturally, this theory is popular among 9/11 conspiracy theories, whose villains range from "neo-cons" in the Bush Administration to "Zionists" plotting for (what else) world domination to Big Oil types needing a pretext to take over the Middle East as well as build a pipeline through Afghanistan to the Caspian Sea. I'm sure space aliens figure in some theories, if not Amelia Earhart's shape-shifting alien/human hybrid offspring.
But it's the plot-to-hide-the-plot aspect that makes Rosie's doozy daffier than the average grand conspiracy. For example, there are dozens of theories about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But no one's saying JFK was shot so people wouldn't learn he'd just been poisoned. (I write this with trepidation, knowing that somewhere someone is doffing a tinfoil braincap in disgust, exclaiming "Well, why didn't I think of that?")
Fluoridation of water was a presumed Communist plot. But it never occurred to fluoridation's foes to call it a ploy to distract folks away from some other conspiracy — say, a plot to put secret government spy cameras in the air via "chemtrails" (i.e., simple jet exhaust to the uninitiated). Some think AIDS was created by the CIA to kill blacks; even they don't go so far as to suggest AIDS was created by the CIA to keep people from discovering Planned Parenthood's covert continuation of its "Negro Project."
Or to pick the most popular grand conspiracy of today: while feminists and Da Vinci Code admirers gleefully ape the notion that the Catholic Church hid "Jesus' bloodline" for two millennia so people wouldn't worship the "sacred feminine," not even one of those bozos is saying it was really a trick to keep the Dan Browns of the world from discovering that the sacred feminine was invented by Merovingian forebears impersonating women on the Isle of Lesbos.
No, the WTC No. 7 allegation takes the BASF approach to 9/11 conspiracy theories: it doesn't invent the theory, it makes it wackier. And now it bears the Rosie rant of approval on national TV. The only good news is, next week O'Donnell's likely to say something goofier.