Who's going to expose the massive government conspiracy to hide the truth about extraterrestrials visiting earth?
Instead of "The X-Files' " Mulder and Scully, it might have to be the House and Senate.
At least that's the hope of some UFO activists, who are taking a decidedly new tack toward bringing out the truth about past sightings and contact with alien spacecraft.
Some of the more vigilant flying-saucer enthusiasts have formed the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee (X-PPAC), the nation's first official UFO lobby.
Giving up on the men in black, UFO activists are taking their case to the men and women in charcoal gray.
Stephen Bassett, executive director of X-PPAC, is now a registered lobbyist, roaming the halls of Congress to alert members to the supposed coverup of UFO sightings.
"I can assure you there are plenty of people in this town who take this very seriously," says Mr. Bassett of his meetings with public officials.
That is, those willing to brave what Bassett calls the "ridicule curtain," the tendency to dismiss his group as kooky.
Bassett believes that alien life has existed on earth since at least 1947, and that a group of elites in the nation's military-industrial complex are keeping it secret.
But with the end of the cold war, word of the coverup has started to leak out, he says. Former officials, aware of what was going on, have started approaching UFO activists to tell the secrets they have seen - off the record, of course.
So the truth, as it were, is out there. But how to get it out?
That's where X-PPAC comes in. It wants Congress to hold hearings on the subject. Bassett is certain that in such a venue, former government officials would talk.
There may be a problem with this strategy, however. Many congressmen may be reluctant to hold public hearings on the issue since, according to the shocking 1994 headlines of the Weekly World News, a supermarket tabloid, 12 senators are space aliens.
Of course, if this is true, these influential lawmakers would probably prefer their true identities not be exposed. The list includes Sen. Phil Gramm (R) of Texas, former senator and astronaut John Glenn (D) of Ohio, and presidential candidate Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah.
Indeed, Mr. Hatch, who is running for the White House, would be the first alien president of the United States if elected.
"We were assured he could become president of Mars, but the senator's wife does not want to travel," deadpans his spokesman, Paul Smith. "So we're putting our hopes on people voting him in as president of the United States."
Others in Washington take the conspiracy allegations with a bit less levity. "The belief that the CIA has or continues to participate in a governmentwide conspiracy to cover up or withhold evidence of UFOs is patently absurd," says agency spokesman Tom Crispell.
Could Mr. Crispell himself be part of the conspiracy? "I can assure you that I have never seen a UFO or alien body anywhere in the world," he adds. A Defense Department spokeswoman refused to comment on the allegations of a conspiracy at all. Hmmm.
Bassett himself discounts the hypothesis that members of Congress are in on the conspiracy, though. "Deep within the bowels of this intelligence complex are career people who view senators and presidents as mere transients. They keep them out of the loop if they can."
There may be a reason this sounds so much like "The X-Files." Bassett says the television show presents an accurate, if overdramatized, picture of the conspiracy. "I think Chris Carter [the show's producer] has sources on the inside."
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society