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As Gulf Oil Spreads, So Do Slippery Conspiracy Theories

One conspiracy theory after another has bubbled to the surface since millions of gallons of oil began spewing into the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion on an oil rig. 

One conspiracy theory after another has bubbled to the surface since millions of gallons of oil began spewing into the Gulf of Mexico after an April 20 explosion on a deep-water oil rig. 

Those consumed by even more sinister scenarios than the spill itself ranged from fringe, far-right characters to more mainstream commentators. The latter category included radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, who suggested that "hard-core environmentalist wackos" opposed to an energy bill that would increase offshore drilling may have been responsible. "What better way to head off more oil drilling and nuclear plants than blowing up a rig?" Limbaugh asked. He offered no evidence at all to support his theory.

Dana Perino, a one-time spokeswoman for President George W. Bush, similarly wondered in a Fox News interview if the explosion was an act of sabotage. Talk radio host Mark Levin, for his part, said that President Obama's vow to send Department of Interior "SWAT teams" to the Gulf of Mexico was a precursor "to another form of government nationalization." 

That was some of the tamer talk circulating about the disaster. On the Internet, conspiracy theories were thicker than oil on a pelican's feathers.

Conspiracy-obsessed radio host Alex Jones and two others wrote an article on one of Jones' websites insisting that "the incident could have been manufactured." They claimed that Halliburton, the huge oilfield services corporation, acquired a company that suppresses oil-well fires and blowouts just a little more than a week before BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 workers and causing an environmental nightmare. Plus, they said, there was a huge dumping of BP shares of stock in the days and weeks before the disaster, suggesting that certain people had prior knowledge the disaster would occur.

Elsewhere, Robert Rutherford of the antigovernment website, which describes itself as "a place where Patriots, Militias and Survivalists can meet and learn," shot videos and filed reports from Grand Isle, La. Although other media reported oil had soiled the barrier island and the Audubon Society published photos online proving it was so, Rutherford found none of that. Instead, he reported seeing suspicious Army and Coast Guard troops in "full battle dress and even more unusual contractors in white helmets." Without being specific, he suggested the government was up to no good.

Greg Evensen, a militia sympathizer and former Kansas state trooper whose essays and radio broadcasts are featured on apocalyptic Christian and militia websites, predicted in late May that the government would begin evacuating 40 million people around mid-June from areas that would become unlivable due to the use of toxic chemical dispersants being employed by BP to deal with the spill. June came and went with no evacuations.

And then there was John Kaminski, a writer of Internet screeds who says he "used to live on the Gulf Coast of Florida, but now is adrift in America from the poisons that have been put in the Gulf of Mexico by madmen who are trying to rule the world by destroying it." He added: "It was done so they could remove everyone and allow the UN troops a place to come land and take over our country. Perhaps this is what will happen to allow the USA to join Canada and Mexico for ‘their' North American Union."

Of course Kaminski also believes that the 9/11 attacks were the work of Jewish bankers, and that Jewish bankers are responsible for all wars that have occurred. Another conspiracy for another day.