When news websites began reporting Tuesday night that Donald Trump would travel to Mexico to meet the country's president, I immediately knew something was wrong about the whole situation. Besides the fact that Donald Trump is a serious presidential candidate, I mean.
Sure enough, the events of Trump's bizarre and short conference with President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, and his anti-immigration rally that evening in Phoenix, unfolded like a fever dream and left me with so many questions. What did Peña Nieto hope to accomplish? Did Trump really not bring up who would pay for the wall? Does that hat really say "Make Mexico Great Again Also?"
But all of these are the wrong questions to ask. The right one to ask is: "Did any of that actually happen?" It seems to me like there are a series of powerful clues that tell us that Trump's trip to Mexico was actually an elaborate hoax.
Yes, the press corps in Mexico City reported on and filmed remarks delivered by men who appeared to be Peña Nieto and Trump. But, as my conservative relatives are constantly reminding me, you shouldn't believe everything the media tells you. So let's assume, for the moment, that the only sources we can trust are our own eyes and ears, and examine the evidence.
CLUE 1: WHOSE PLANE WAS THAT ANYWAY?
The Republican candidate for president makes an official visit to Mexico, but does anyone actually see him arrive in the country? The New York Times shows video of an unmarked plane landing in Mexico City and says Trump is onboard.
But this plane has no livery whatsoever, unlike the gold-lettered jets Trump usually favors. For comparison, here's Trump in front of one of his jets during a July 23 visit to Laredo, Texas.
Wire services post photos of a similarly unmarked helicopter that is allegedly transporting Trump from Mexico City International Airport to the Los Pinos presidential mansion, but again, we never actually see Trump. He doesn't show up at all until about an hour and a half later behind a podium next to Peña Nieto.
CLUE 2: THE HAIR THAT WASN'T THERE
They almost get away with it here. The men behind the podiums appear to be who they say they are, and the journalists present don't report anything amiss. For a while, it actually seems possible that the presidential candidate who has spent more than a year disparaging Mexico might have had a heart-to-heart with that country's president.
But there are two key inconsistencies, the first being cosmetic.
The real Donald Trump's hair has been proven to be monolithic, natural and unassailable. So why is this man who otherwise appears to be Donald Trump wearing bobby pins in his hair?
And why do Trump and Peña Nieto seem to have different accounts of what transpired during their meeting? The man who appears to be Trump told reporters at the press conference that they "didn't discuss" who would pay for the wall. Later on, after the meeting was over, Peña Nieto comes forward and says, no, they did discuss it and he said Mexico would not pay.
Why would Peña Nieto wait to make such a revelation? Could it be because he wasn't actually at the press conference with the man who appeared to look like Trump? I'm just asking questions here.
CLUE 3: THE SUSPICIOUS "RETURN" TO PHOENIX
Trump's departure from Mexico is as mysterious and lacking in documentation as his arrival. He shows up in Phoenix soon after where a CNN anchor almost gives everything away, asking, "Is that him? Some very small-looking figures on my monitor walking down." He can't tell because it's probably not Trump.
We are expected to believe that Trump jetted down to Mexico and back to the U.S. in the space of just a few hours? When Mitt Romney visited our foreign allies during the 2012 campaign, he took several days. President Obama's visit to Berlin in 2008 was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of people. Even Ben Carson managed to get some photos of himself standing in the desert during his trip to Jordan last December.
I WANT TO BELIEVE
Occam's Razor tells us that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. You might say that the theory that Trump's Mexico trip was a staged, intricate hoax in the service of an unknown malevolent purpose requires a lot of "crazy" assumptions. But isn't that exactly what someone who was trying to cover up an elaborately-staged hoax would say?
The truth is out there.