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This was a huge diversion cast on the American people while Clinton was signing the NAFTA AGREEMENT

Impeachment spins tangled web of
conspiracy theories

By Eric Lipton
Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Communist invasions. Mind-controlling 'Furbies'. CIA plots, feminist coups and the end of the world.

And you thought you knew all about the impeachment trial.

On the Internet, the Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment of the president have provided fuel for conspiracy theories, from the outrageous to the ominous, making the publishing of home-based investigations as common as UFO sightings in Nevada.

``There's no one theory,'' says conspiracy buff Rayelan Allen of Aptos, Calif. ``It's a puzzle, and everyone has a piece. The Internet sites let us share them, fit together the pieces, and figure out what's really going on.''

In pursuit of ``what's really going on,'' would-be sleuths, X-File fans and those loosely tethered to reality seek answers -- or provide them -- on conspiracy-related web sites and Internet newsgroups.

Is Clinton a CIA pawn who has outlasted his usefulness? Reports on the online mailing lists ``Conspiracy Nation'' and ``Rumor Mill News'' describe Clinton as a long-time CIA operative, even a former spy during Oxford days.

Clinton, they assert, overshot his role in the New World Order -- the attempt to form a world-wide government ruled by a cabal of the rich and powerful -- and is being targeted for failing to step down after his first term. Another theory has warring CIA factions duking it out, with Clinton's presidency the battleground.

Chief Justice Rehnquist's striped robe has caused quite a conspiratorial stir, despite the benign explaination that that his stripes were inspired by Gilbert and Sullivan's ``Iolanthe.'' Some suspect they're a sign the Senate trial is actually a clandestine military court martial -- since the four stripes imply a Naval ranking of Captain -- trying Clinton for unstated crimes.

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