Fourth of July blog: My top five favorite American conspiracies

Commentary by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — There are a lot of things America does well. There are a lot of things we don’t do well. But I can’t imagine any other country that can spread conspiracy theories quite like the U.S. of A.

Welcome to my fifth annual “Cueball Fourth of July” column –  where I celebrate 244 years of history,  by making a useless Internet list of all things American.

This year, in honor of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m going to list my top five favorite American conspiracies.

COVID-19 is a deadly virus that has spread quickly across the world. But COVID-19 hasn’t spread nearly as quickly as the conspiracy theories.

Why are we obsessed with conspiracies? I think it is because we love to gossip. It’s a great American pastime.

So let’s get started.

5. Paul is dead.

I love rock-star-is-not-dead conspiracies. Elvis was the ultimate never deader. Anyone who lived in the 80s’ will remember Elvis was popping up all over the place. That was fine except he officially died in 1976. The reason he faked his death? He needed some space, man.

Elvis is not the only not-so-dead rock star. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and more recently Kurt Cobain have all been rumored to be alive and kicking. It is obvious unless we see the rock star croak on camera in a very public setting like the Ed Sullivan Show, then they must be faking their death.

However, the “Paul is Dead” has a completely different wrinkle. Its take is that a rock star has died when he is actually supposed to be living.

Here’s the conspiracy. Paul McCartney, the best Beatle (I’ll fight you on that), died on November 9, 1966, of a grisly car accident, and has been replaced by a look-alike.

The reason? We, the public, just couldn’t take the sorrow of him dying which seems kind of lame since we did kind of come to grips with John Lennon’s death in 1980.

Nevertheless, with Paul dead, the band left cryptic messages in their subsequent music and artwork to communicate the truth to their fans. The most famous message was the Abbey Road album cover where he is shown walking barefoot and out of step with his bandmates. What more proof do you need?

It must have been exhausting being an imposter. The fake Paul would have had to create a 1970s band called Wing, go through three marriages, raise a family, get knighted by the Queen, countless interview and endure insults from Lennon himself who once said the only good music he ever made was the song “Yesterday.”

I did the math. Paul (or the fake Paul) is now 78 years old. If the theory is true, the imposter has been faking it for 54 years more than twice as long as the real Paul was alive.

4. Roswell UFO incident.

I’m convinced that aliens have infiltrated our planet and are having a great time screwing with us. How else would you describe what has been going on in this country for the past four years?

Back in 1947, allegedly, a United States Army Air Force balloon crashed at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico. I say “allegedly” because people have been speculating ever since that it was actually an alien spacecraft and that alien bodies had been recovered by the U.S. Government for extensive experimentation. A government cover-up goes like this: the bodies were recovered and the material from the aircraft was collected and stored in a big warehouse at Area 51 – a big chuck of governmental land in southern Nevada.

In the process, the government has also been quietly eliminating all those nosey neighbors in New Mexico who saw the spaceship crash and knows the truth. The military did initially lie about the incident, originally saying it was a weather balloon, but eventually admitting it was balloon used for nuclear test monitoring.

True conspiracists though believe these aliens were spying on our nuclear bomb capabilities to report back to the mother planet to eventually use on us. My personal guess it was a lot simpler like the aliens got lost in the New Mexico desert looking for some grub to eat and wrecked the vehicle when the passenger wouldn’t give the driver the #$%@ing map and a fight ensued.

Interestingly enough, the incident got no traction for about 30 years and most people had forgotten the incident. But then someone had to write a book, “The Roswell Incident,” and UFO conspiracists have been off and running ever since.

3. Jeffrey Epstein death conspiracy.

I figured since we are in the golden age of conspiracies, why not have at least one from recent days? Trouble is, most of the modern-day conspiracies are too stupid to talk about.

However, the Jeffrey Epstein conspiracy is an exception. Of the five conspiracies I’m listing here, this may be the closest thing to reality.

It is really an interesting story, like a plot coming out of Ozark or Breaking Bad. Here is this sex trafficker, a really bad guy, who allegedly killed himself in prison. Most people, including Sumner Newscow readers (see poll here), believed Epstein was murdered. I’m not sure I disagree.

On August 10, 2019, American financier and convicted sex offender, Epstein was found unresponsive after supposedly hanging himself in his Metropolitan Correctional Center jail cell where he was awaiting trial on new charges. But so many things about this case is troublesome. He was already placed on a suicide watch where guards were supposed to check on him every 30 minutes. Yet, the guards failed to do so the night he died. The lawyers had described him as upbeat earlier that evening.

Then by incredible coincidence, the cameras also malfunctioned that very same night when both guards accidentally fell asleep. He wasn’t checked on until 6:30 a.m.

When he was found in his cell, prison personnel failed to photograph his body – a standard procedure.


What’s intriguing about Epstein’s death, is he knew things and he knew people. There were a lot of famous people in his inner circle who could have been implicated. Trump being Trump immediately blamed Hillary Clinton. No conspiracy is legitimate unless Hillary is involved somehow. Since then Hillary’s husband Bill, Prince Andrew, and Trump himself have been named in the cover-up.

At least for me, the conspiracy is great because it produced one of the best Internet meme phrases of all time, “Epstein didn’t kill himself.” You can use it any place at any time in any sentence and it is always funny.

“Wellington won last night’s basketball game… And Epstein didn’t kill himself.”

“The Wellington City urges you to bag your trash… And Epstein didn’t kill himself.”

“County Commissioners shutdown Sumner County because of the coronavirus… And Epstein didn’t kill himself.”

You see. Always funny.

2. Moon land conspiracy.

I contend, people who believe the moon landing was faked, are people with no joy. Because has America, as a nation, had a more joyful moment than when we landed on the moon?

Still, the conspiracy that the moon landing was a hoax is one of my favorites because the story is so carefully crafted.

The theory goes that NASA decides to produce this “show” in order to mislead the public so we can say we won the space race. Take that Russians. You may meddle in our elections, but we pulled the ultimate hijinks by making you think we landed on the moon.

Also, NASA, which at the time was getting its tail kicked by the Soviets, was low on cash and needed more funding. Also, the U.S. Government was wanting to divert attention away from the Vietnam War so people could focus on something “positive.” I can buy that theory, I did that all the time with my children growing up.

So a script was produced by Walt Disney and Stan Kubrick directed the film. Sounds like a good plan. And Hollywood took over.

There are so many theories on why we couldn’t have landed: the shadow of the flag was inconsistent with the reflection of the light, crosshairs in photographs were in the wrong place, there were no stars shown above (it was daylight), there was a Coke bottle at the bottom of the screen, etc., etc., etc.

Here is the problem with conspiracies. People have big mouths. And in order to pull one off, everyone would have had to keep a secret. One American Scientist, James Longuski, said to pull off this conspiracy it would have involved more than 400,000 people who worked on the Apollo project for nearly 10 years, including the 12 astronauts and all the engineers who made this project happen. It would have been easier to actually land on the moon than pull off the hoax.

Surely, someone from the inside, thinking about making millions would have wanted to publish a book. John Bolton, anyone?

1. The Kennedy assassination.

Mike Wilmoth, U.S. Government instructor.

OK, you caught me. The only reason why I chose conspiracies this year as a topic is so I can talk about the Kennedy assassination.

In an interview, I had a few years ago with Wellington High School government instructor and historian Mike Wilmoth (see story here), he put all of these conspiracies in perspective:

“People need balance. On one side you had this President, who was good looking, had a great personality, who was a great leader that almost everyone loved. And on the other side, you had this nut.

People don’t like to think that a nut could do something like that. So they seek something to fill in the gaps. A conspiracy balances things out.

Kennedy conspiracies have become a very lucrative industry. A lot of people have made lots of money off the Kennedy assassination. There have been more than 1,000 books written on the subject including a ridiculous Oliver Stone movie from the 1980s that I have seen at least six times. According to an ABC poll, 70 percent of the respondents suspected Lee Oswald did not act alone.

My hunch is Oswald probably did it by himself. But I do have a list of my top 5 favorite Kennedy assassination conspiracies, nevertheless. Call it a list within a list.


1. Lyndon B Johnson. I can’t imagine Johnson pulling this off because he was such a buffoon who liked to talk. This theory goes that he hated the Kennedys so much and was worried he was going to be dropped from the 1964 presidential ticket, he decided to take Kennedy out.

2. Cuban Government. This theory actually involves Oswald (along with others) in which the Cubans funded his operation to assassinate Kennedy before Kennedy could assassinate Fidel Castro.

3. Organized crime. The mob had it out for Kennedy because he stabbed them in the back after they helped him win the 1960 Presidential election. So the mafia, teamed up with the anti-Cubans (not the pro-Cubans listed above) and the CIA to get rid of him for various misdeeds against their organizations.

4. George H.W. Bush. I just read about this one. This theory has the future President linked with the CIA and was a prime participant in the cover-up. Many people believe he actually was at the Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination. Couple of things are wrong with this conspiracy. He was making a campaign speech in Tyler at the time as a U.S. Senate candidate. He also didn’t join the CIA until 1976.

5. Decoy hearse and wounds. I love this one. This theory states that when the JFK body was being shipped back to Washington, the body was moved to another casket and was secretly transported to a secret medical facility. Once there surgeons altered his brain to make it look like Kennedy was shot from the rear. Thus, from then on, nobody would suspect those bullets came from somewhere else.


Ok, there you have it.

If you want to read my other Fourth of July Cueball blogs, here are my four previous columns:

In 2016, I rated my 10 favorite Presidents of all time (click here).

In 2017, I rated the American wars in order of importance (click here).

In 2018, I listed the 10 greatest American inventions of the past 50 years (click here).

In 2019, I listed my top five U.S. Constitutional amendments (click here). 

Happy Independence Day, everyone. Remember for all our divisive ways, it is still a great country to live in. Let’s celebrate it together.

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