On Monday, the Guardian published a story under this unexpected headline: “Paraguay in a spin about Bush’s alleged 100,000 acre hideaway.” The unconfirmed report, which finds its dubious source in the Cuban press agency Prensa Latina, suggests that President Bush recently purchased nearly 100,000 acres of land in the Chaco region of Paraguay.


“Erasmo Rodríguez Acosta, the governor of the Alto Paraguay region where Mr. Bush’s new acquisition supposedly lies, told one Paraguayan news agency there were indications that Mr. Bush had bought land in Paso de Patria, near the border with Brazil and Bolivia,” Tom Phillips of the Guardian reported. “He was, however, unable to prove this, he added.”


Afterwards, bloggers were undeterred by the highly speculative nature of the president’s supposed land speculation.


“This all still seems very innocent on the surface,” writes Steve O at Bring it On!, “but now let’s add the five hundred U.S. troops that arrived in Paraguay with planes, weapons and ammunition in July 2005, shortly after the Paraguayan Senate granted U.S. troops immunity from national and International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction. Neighboring countries and human rights organizations are concerned the massive air base at Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay is potential real estate for the U.S. military. Does Bush plan on being charged with something in the future? Does Bush foresee a collapse of the United States and feels a strong need to have a place to cut and run to, or does Bush just need a nice secret little place other than Gitmo where he can send people he doesn’t like?”


Elsewhere, somber-minded conspiracies about how the president might “flee to Paraguay” were rampant.


“Like a long line of disgraced tyrants before him, Bush may be getting ready to skip town and find himself a safe haven where he’ll never have to face the Bar of Justice for his grotesquely criminal regime,” writes DownWithTyranny! “Paraguay has some bizarre relations with the Bush Regime and in the past is known to have given safe haven to a wide array of dictators and war criminals from Juan Peron to a dozen escaped Nazis.”


Among other bloggers, an environmental conspiracy was all the rage.


“They know that the Northern Hemisphere will either be covered in ice, a la The Day After Tomorrow or it will be too arid and erratic, that the only tolerable living conditions will exist south of the border, writes the Vidiot. “The land Bush is rumored to have purchased is smack dab over an aquifer as well as dead close to a good source of natural gas. On top of that, there’s a huge chunk of land right next door that’s owned by the Bush family good buddy Sun Myong Moon of the infamous Moonies … It’s perfect. They will have water, they will have gas, they have a military contingent there to fight off the locals, they could do whatever they wanted AND not get extradited to The Hague.”


Paranoia aside, there was another thread that tended to link most of the blog coverage — that is, the “coincidence” that Jenna Bush “just happened” recently “to visit” Paraguay.


“For me, the news that Jenna Bush had become a UNICEF ambassador was already a disconnect of baroque proportions,” writes skdadl at Peace, order and good government, eh? “And Jenna as any kind of secret political emissary seems to me to lift this story right off into the rococo. But then, as Scott Fitzgerald once said, the rich aren’t like us, so what would I know?”

Mark Boyer was a CJR intern.