The last several years have offered especially fertile ground for conspiracy theories big and small. Some have become so engrained in our collective consciousness that it’s hard to remember they were once just whispers in the swampiest corners of the internet.
Others are just downright dumb, so memorable in their convoluted chaos that they’re worthy of several celebratory cheers.
This category was a must-have this year as we were settling on the Golden Dukes themes for several reasons, but primarily because of the new life that was breathed into the Big Lie during the 2022 midterms. The conspiracy theory about the 2020 election being rigged is of course a dangerous and destructive one, but the midterms helped prove that those responsible for spreading the Big Lie are just the same kind of unserious, unhinged actors at the heart of most conspiracy theories. And the American people, largely, agreed.
Without further ado, it’s time to vote on one of my favorite categories thus far: Most Convoluted Conspiracy Theory/Most Creative Take On The Big Lie. The nominations were strong in this category, but I think these four represent the year and state of the country well. If you need some convincing, I’ve included some TPM staff and reader nomination pitches below. Vote here ⬇️⬇️⬇️ and happy Duke-ing!
Majorie Taylor Greene’s Jewish Space Lasers
Majorie Taylor Greene’s belief that Jewish Space Lasers, controlled by George Soros, were starting spot fires in the West to make room for a high-speed rail project.
— Nominated by: TPM reader
Jim Marchant And The Pelosi-Schumer-Schiff-And-Nadler Deep State
It was the ultimate Big Lie overreach. Not only was Trump denied the victory that was rightfully his in 2020, not only were Republicans besieged by a rigged voting system in 2022, but … prominent longtime Democrats in deep blue districts are only in office because they stole their elections!
Yup, you got it. Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler are the beneficiaries of an apparently decades-long scheme to keep California and New York from electing the Republicans they would have otherwise sent to Washington.
Thank god for Jim Marchant, the GOP nominee for secretary of state in Nevada. Even though he lost his race, his kind of bold truth-telling is what America needs. And when I say lost his race, of course I mean “lost.” We understand, Jim, we understand.
– Nominated by: TPM Executive Editor David Kurtz
How could this have happened? How could the Trump administration have allowed a cyber-coup to unseat it in late 2020, permitting the CIA and Barack Obama to team up with an Italian defense contractor to use military satellites to zap millions of votes, cast by unsuspecting, pro-Trump patriots, and transform them into Biden ballots?
In the world of the ItalyGate conspiracy theory, Trump let all of this happen under his nose. Mamma mia. The theory gained an audience not only among the MAGA faithful foaming at the mouth amid Trump’s loss, but with senior members of the Trump administration. Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appears to have asked the DOJ to investigate the theory, while attorney Rudy Giuliani propagated it as well. The Defense Department was asked to investigate it — after all, military satellites were involved. But despite the Trump administration’s best efforts, they lost, and Italy’s fleet of vote-zapping military satellites won.
– Nominated by: TPM investigative reporter Josh Kovensky
Dinesh D’Souza’s ‘2000 Mules’
Dinesh D’Souza’s film “2000 Mules” and the perpetuation of the myth that geolocation of cellphones proves that people went to multiple drop boxes to deliver ballots, but it can’t show them on video surveillance, because….. It never happened. And the fact that the book version of the film was pulled by the publisher before it could even begin sales was the icing on the cake.
— Nominated by: TPM reader