I couldn't resist calling Ozaukee County Supervisor Joseph Sopko and asking him to take the latest survey that's been in the news.
More than a third of Americans surveyed, it seems, have suspicions about our own federal government's role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Thirty-six percent, to be exact, if you look at the actual Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University poll numbers.
It is at least "somewhat likely," that contingent of America apparently believes, that government officials "either assisted in the 9-11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."
This makes perfect sense, of course. At least to the 40% who also think it somewhat likely the government was directly responsible for the JFK assassination, and the 38% who also find it at least somewhat likely the government is withholding proof of the existence of intelligent life from other planets.
The director of the survey center says they've been asking the "flying saucer question" for years and at one point back in the 1990s the number who believed the government was hiding evidence of Martians was actually half.
"I didn't expect 36" percent would suspect government involvement in Sept. 11, said Guido Stempel. But then, he added, "I didn't expect 50 the first time we did flying saucers."
These questions have some resonance around here, where Sopko pushed an $8,427 cut in funding to the University of Wisconsin Extension - the amount part-time University of Wisconsin-Madison lecturer Kevin Barrett will make this fall.
Barrett is the sage who thinks the Bush administration orchestrated what happened on Sept. 11 and the person Sopko, and all other intelligent earthlings, can't believe is allowed to teach.
Scripps didn't happen to call Sopko for his opinion on federal government complicity with al-Qaida, but I did.
"A bunch of bunk," he said, of course. But, it seems, a popular bunch of bunk.
According to Stempel, the percentage of believers is highest among the uneducated, including 55% of all those who didn't finish high school.
I guess there's some sort of comfort there. The University of Wisconsin used to be a premier learning institution. Now, it's one of the few places in America a kid who drops out of high school can go to get some affirmation.
Maybe I'm just overeducated, being able to read both Sports Illustrated for Kids and the back of a cereal box and all. But it just can't be true that more than a third of the country believes in both ET and Kevin Barrett.
Maybe it's just the fact that anyone willing to answer a telephone survey of 47 questions has got to be bonkers anyway (the terrorism question was number 27), but something, somehow, is wrong here.
The center has been doing surveys for years and this most recent one included more than 1,000 people, according to Stempel. Forty-one percent were Democrats, 35% were Republicans and 24% were independents. Still unclear, because I forgot to ask, is what percentage wears tinfoil on their heads or believes the world as we know it is going to come to an end tomorrow.
Now that one, I get.
If this survey is accurate, it already has.
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