Theories like these have been flying around the Misinformation Highway since around Sept. 12, 2001. The original conspiracy theorists claimed that the two towers had been brought down from within and that no plane crash could have caused the collapses.
So, I launched into this explanation of the physics behind the collapses of the two towers, first damage by the plane crashes and then brought down as fire weakened the steel skeletons. However, O'Donnell (who has discussed the towers on other occasions) was, in that particular instance, talking about WTC 7. This was pointed out to me by several people, including Shawn Gustafson, Nathan Swanson and Dusty Meyer, and I am sincerely grateful to them for having done so.
I actually knew that she was talking about WTC 7 that time. I should have mentioned it, but I didn't. It was not an attempt to deceive or set up a straw-man argument, as some have claimed. I'm not that clever. As to why I didn't, I can visualize myself as John Belushi in The Blues Brothers when Carrie Fisher is about to shoot him for having left her at the altar. I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. ... There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts!
In all seriousness, I messed up. Weekly readers deserve my best at all times, and that wasn't it. I'm sorry.
It must be noted that the collapses of the towers and then, later, WTC 7 are amazingly similar. All three buildings sustained structural damage from outside forces, had their steel skeletons weakened by fire and then finally collapsed. The 47-story WTC 7 was damaged by the collapse of the North Tower, which was only the length of a football field away.
Popular Mechanics, in an online refutation of O'Donnell's charges, said that WTC 7 was hit with the force of a volcano when the North Tower fell. That may or may not be overly dramatic, but we've all seen the video of that wall of ash, smoke, dust and debris as it roared through the concrete canyons of Manhattan and then formed the huge cloud that hung over the city and adjacent rivers for what seemed like forever. Just imagine the impact it would have had on a steel-framed building only 300 feet away. Fires then raged inside WTC 7 for several hours before it collapsed that afternoon.
In my head, it all fits together. Even Rosie, on her blog, wrote, "At 5:30 p.m. on 9/11/2001 WTC7 collapsed. For the third time in history, fire brought down a steel building, reducing it to rubble." That reference to "the third time" means that she, too, puts all three buildings together in her argument. (In her rant on The View, she said, "I do believe that it's the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel." All she has to do now is mention "the second time ..." and she will have covered all the bases.)
Several bloggers, hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet and therefore undeserving of serious attention, ripped into me. They explained, with breathtaking condescension, that the towers had been brought down by the Jews, the Arabs, the CIA, the FBI, Kenneth Lay, Donald Trump and/or Rex the Wonder Dog so that: The Bush administration could get the Department of Homeland Security it so craved; we'd have an excuse to grab the Iraqi oil fields; Enron could cover its tracks; or real estate prices could go up. Or down.
I'm surprised nobody suggested that it was done to impress Jodie Foster.
One more levelheaded fellow took the time to make several good points on the Tucson Weekly blog site (or whatever it's called). As he took me to task, he referred to me as "Daheny" about 27 times. No big deal; that happens. But when he got to my problem with O'Donnell over her hypocritical stance on guns, he referred me to Wikipedia.
WIKIPEDIA?!! Why don't I just consult a Ouija board? Or maybe I could go down to Fourth Avenue and buy a used mood ring. This is the online "encyclopedia" that recently said that actor/comedian Sinbad was dead. He's not dead, and he has never won an Oscar, but that's what it will say if you check Wikipedia. I'm going to post that he won Best Supporting Actor for Necessary Roughness and Best Actor for both Houseguest and First Kid, the latter in which he shot the biggest spitball in cinematic history.
My computer geek son told me: "Wikipedia is about as accurate as anything else on the 'Net."
My point exactly.