By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
Dana Rohrabacher isn't a central-casting conservative. The Laguna Beach congressman surfs, wears Hawaiian shirts under his blazers, and has admitted to doing everything except slurp the bongwater when it comes to drugs.
But when it comes to seeing Muslims around every dark corner, Rohrabacher is the self-anointed flag-bearer of the Republican fringe.
Take the Oklahoma City bombing: Though all evidence points to a plot executed by homegrown goobers, Rohrabacher was certain the Muslims were to blame.
So he traveled to a supermax prison in Colorado to interview co-conspirator Terry Nichols. The congressman was convinced that Nichols had been taught to build bombs in the Philippines by Ramsi Yousef, the man behind the first World Trade Center attack. He also sent a staffer to the island nation to prove the connection.
Yet Nichols, who had every incentive to throw blame elsewhere, admitted there was no conspiracy.
A year later, Rohrabacher stumbled into a new black hole, this one involving the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
On the night in 1968 when Kennedy was murdered by Sirhan Sirhan, the congressman was attending a different election party at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He claims he saw "another Arab" tackled and arrested by police in the lobby.
Naturally, the spotting of two Arabs in a single L.A. hotel could not be coincidence. To Rohrabacher, it could only mean one thing: a vast Palestinian conspiracy!
Fast-forward to the day in 2007 that Sirhan, an inmate at California State Prison, Corcoran, was told by guards that someone named "Diana" had arrived to see him. Instead of a woman visitor, however, Sirhan found himself face-to-face with Rohrabacher and two aides. He assured the congressman there was no conspiracy.
"I think [Rohrabacher's] kookiness is part of what's kept him in Washington," says Debbie Cook, the former mayor of Huntington Beach, who came closest to unseating the 13-term representative. "The more he keeps his name in the press, the better he does."
Even without the support of convicted killers, Rohrabacher's conspiracy theories soldier on. His latest emerged after the slayings of Libyan ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi. The congressman took to Twitter to suggest that President Obama had left the men to die to ensure his re-election.
It was a bizarre assertion, given that dead ambassadors rarely make for effective campaign commercials.
Loud, Proud, and Without a Functioning Cerebral Cortex
In January, Republican leaders convened in Charlotte to lick their wounds from the last election. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal got straight to the point: "We must stop being the stupid party."
No one better exemplifies Jindal's lament than the man whose district shares Louisiana's border, Texas congressman Louie Gohmert.
Gohmert's apparent strategy: The louder and crazier he talks, the less anyone will notice his lack of a functioning cerebral cortex.
Take the February 2012 hearing at which Gohmert claimed the trans-Alaska pipeline was responsible for a booming caribou population. Flowing oil warmed the ground, he explained, serving as an aphrodisiac for the antlered set.
"So when they want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline," claimed the Carrie Bradshaw of imaginary science.
Less amusing were comments in the wake of mass shootings. After the Sandy Hook massacre, he said of the school's murdered principal: "I wish to God she had an M-4 in her office."
Following the movie-theater slaughter in Aurora, Colorado, he bemoaned the fact that no one had pulled a gun, allowing for "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs" — as if deranged killer James Holmes had somehow struck a blow for atheism.
Gohmert tried to remedy this perceived cowardice in his own workplace, introducing legislation that would allow politicians to carry pistols in the Capitol. (Like nearly all legislation he proposes, it went nowhere.)
But Gohmert's weirdness reaches beyond guns and caribou. Any conservative congressman worth his American-flag lapel pin must have a Muslim conspiracy theory. Gohmert's is more lacking in evidence than the rest.
His latest outcry is the "terror babies" conspiracy, a scenario in which scores of pregnant Muslim women fly to the U.S. solely to give birth, and the children return to the Middle East to undergo decades of anti-American indoctrination. Once the kids reach maturity, they fly back to blow up a small chunk of the country, thus completing their mission.
The FBI gives no credence to his theory. And when told by CNN's Anderson Cooper that the notion was ridiculous, Gohmert offered no evidence to the contrary.
Instead, he compared himself to Winston Churchill, telling Cooper that "the explosions will not happen for 10 or 15 or 20 years, and then you will be one of those blips."
It doesn't quite sound like the new, intellectual Republican Party Jindal is aiming for.
The Queen of Mean in the Nation's Capital
Houston's Sheila Jackson Lee arrived in Congress in 1995. It took 11 days for the first of Lee's staff members to quit, and the congresswoman has shown no sign of slowing down since.