The "Black Helicopter Caucus"

Of all the images House members invoke during floor debates, one of the most vivid is the specter of United Nations black helicopters looming on the horizon, poised to overrun U.S. soil as the agents of some shadowy New World Order internationalist regime. This week, as the House debated a bill to require congressional approval before U.S. sites are designated as Biosphere Reserves or World Heritage sites by the U.N., the sound of hovering helicopters echoed throughout the chamber as members invoked them to both dismiss supporters of the bill or head off its critics.

No less than House Resources Chairman Young opened the debate by saying, "We are going to hear a lot today that this is a fear tactic to worry about black helicopters ..." Rep. Bruce Vento, D- Minn., who spoke first among the bill's opponents, charged, "The proponents of this legislation claim that a proposed mine next to Yellowstone National Park ... was halted by environmental forces in black helicopters." Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., later declared sarcastically, "The black helicopters are, indeed, circling over our lands. They are out there circling as we speak." And Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., defended the U.N. programs, saying, "There are no black helicopters; there are no U.N. troops and there is no global takeover."

But Rep. Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho, the bill's author, refused to humor the Democrats - who mentioned black helicopters far more during the debate than the conservative Republicans who supposedly believe in them. Chenoweth only pointed out that "there is not one word in this simple little piece of legislation that talks about black helicopters."

Fairly or not, some conservatives have been tagged as belonging to a "Black Helicopter Caucus" because of their views and positions.

Said one member, "There is a group - and I do vote with them on occasion - that obviously sees a government conspiracy in everything. Which is an oxymoron, since these people are in the government." The member added that he once walked up to "a group of them and asked them 'What's the black helicopter vote on this?' the way you would ask 'What's the NEA vote on this?' or 'What's the farm vote on this?' - and they laughed."

Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., a property rights defender some might include in the group, said, "I find it kind of hilarious. It doesn't bother me. I've heard it on the floor" in reference to some members. Chenoweth said when critics invoke black helicopters, she said, "It always tells me they've lost the argument."

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