If you see a potential conspiracy theorist in every ideological opponent of yours, here’s a thought: The conspiracy theorist might be you.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — generally viewed as the George Harrison of “the squad,” if you haven’t been keeping track of her position in the Democrat fab four — made news this week during a “Don’t Vape” hearing on Capitol Hill after she confronted a witness who was there to present the pro-vaping side.
During a bizarre exchange, Tlaib wondered if the witness was a conspiracy theorist.
Then, she came up with a conspiracy theory of her own involving … winking. Yes, really.
According to the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal, Vicki McKenna — legal name Vicki Porter — is a 51-year-old conservative Wisconsin radio personality who credits vaping with helping her quit smoking.
She was invited by Republicans to argue from the other side of the issue at Tuesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing.
“It literally changed and probably saved my life,” she told the committee. “My lungs are healthy. … Vaping is a health miracle to me.”
When it came time for Tlaib to question McKenna, however, the Michigan representative apparently thought she was dealing with Alexis Jones.
“You know, Ms. Porter, I was reading because I want to know more about you and your beliefs,” Tlaib said. “You call yourself a converted conservative and a reformed Marxist. Are you a conspiracy theorist?”
It was then that Rep. Tlaib passed a folded note to the witness that said, in bubble letters drawn with scented marker, “I’ll make sure you’re the laughing stock of prom” pic.twitter.com/QJdwtWAybp
— Katrina B Haydon🎬 (@katrinabhaydon) September 24, 2019
This seems to have been taken from McKenna/Porter’s bio on WISN’s website, which is blatantly tongue-in-cheek: “Vicki McKenna is a converted conservative, and reformed Marxist,” the bio reads.
“She graduated Beloit College w/a degree in Communism (sociology), and pursued graduate studies at the University of Denver in applied Marxism (social theory). After realizing that in order to pay rent, she would probably need an expanded skill set beyond Revolution 101, she decided to embrace her inner-false consciousness and get a job.”
Tlaib doesn’t get jokes, apparently — which is good, because she probably won’t appreciate just how much of one she became in the intervening moments.
After McKenna said she thought her political views were “entirely irrelevant to this hearing,” Tlaib wondered if perhaps she had sussed out a conspiracy of her own: “Oh, OK, why were you winking at one of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle? You winked.”
It turns out that was GOP Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, who she knew.
“He’s a friend of mine,” McKenna said.
“I didn’t know what the winking was,” Tlaib said. “I thought maybe there was something, like a conspiracy thing going on there. I didn’t know.”
“You think there’s a conspiracy in this hearing, ma’am?” McKenna asked.
Well, somebody is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Things devolved further after this, with Tlaib insinuating McKenna’s idea of “truth” diverged from others who had testified (I believe this is referred to as a “difference of opinions” out in the wild) and said that she was still in fact smoking by using e-cigarettes.
“You’re still smoking, ma’am, you’re still smoking,” she told McKenna after the inevitable cross-talk began.
“I’m not smoking,” McKenna said. “And I’m not lying under oath.”
That went well, didn’t it? Talk about establishing your hypocrisy in two easy steps.
I’m not sure what Tlaib intended to prove by this.
Vaping inspires plenty of hot takes, but one of them generally isn’t that those who support it are conspiracy theorists. Furthermore, whoever in Tlaib’s office did research for this and dug up McKenna’s profile apparently views humor as a concept so alien it may as well have come from Mars (or an economist).
If Tlaib herself came up with this factoid, that’s even worse.
Furthermore, consider this angle: Apparently to Tlaib, one can’t be a former Marxist and “reformed conservative” without being considered a potential conspiracy theorist. (Unlike stable progressives like her, for instance.)
This whole exchange is mostly funny, but that strange equivalence is the one truly reprehensible thing about all this. If you believe all of your ideological opponents are potential conspiracy theorists, that’s not healthy — either for you or, if you’re a legislator, for the body politic.
And what’s with the idea that winking constitutes “like a conspiracy thing going on there?” Is winking the new “OK” sign?
I have trouble keeping track of all of these things. I can’t seem to find anything about it, so it seems like Tlaib was inventing a conspiracy theory right after insinuating the guest was a conspiracy theorist. Whoops.
Oh well. I’m sure Tlaib will recover from this hypocritical embarrassment and stride boldly toward other ones.
Onward, George Harrison!
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