Sept. 2, 2010— -- To Alex Jones, the world is a very dark place.
"Good old Uncle Sam will stage attacks ... that's how they keep the slaves in line," the libertarian radio host says during a rant on his show. "We have to wake up and face the fact that we have a criminal government."
Jones, who sits at the helm of an independent media empire, is arguably the nation's premiere purveyor of what could be called paranoia porn.
"World government means world tyranny run by a scientific dictatorship of control freaks that want to carry out forced population reduction," he explained.
The criminal government is just one of many conspiracy theories Jones espouses -- although he thinks that term belittles his reporting. He also believes that the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center were an inside job, that President Barack Obama is an "unconstitutional criminal" and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) runs concentration camps.
"They [FEMA] have designation sports stadiums," he said matter-of-factly, "They have designated fields, they have designated closed down prisoner of war camps for the American people during a civil uprising."
You can count on Jones to push the envelope. Take his stance on the government poisoning the water. "I have all the other government documents where the government proposes -- or government think tanks propose -- poisoning the water to dumb down the population to make them more easy to manage," Jones said.
People who monitor hate groups say they're extremely worried about Jones' growing influence. His six-day-a-week radio show and webcast reach an estimated one million people a day. On YouTube and elsewhere, Jones estimates 200 million people have seen his various documentaries, like "The Fall of the Republic," "Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement" and "The Obama Deception."
In 2002, Richard McAslin, allegedly a Jones listener, snuck into a men's club in California that Jones has called, "a haven for the global elite," carrying a rifle, a handgun, a cross-bow and a sword. Last summer, another Jones fan -- a mother of three on Long Island, N.Y., named Nancy Genovese -- was arrested for allegedly taking pictures of an Air National Guard base with firearms in her car. The charges were later dropped.
Jones' critics say that by floating his highly-charged ideas at a time when the nation is already very angry and anxious, he's upping the odds for unbalanced people to do stupid things.
"I've got to report the information I see and what I believe is happening," he said. "I have a responsibility to put out."
When asked if he's worried about possibly-deranged people who listen to his show taking violent action, he went on the defensive.
"I knew when you guys called that this would be the crux of your interview and that's fine because the government is going to stage more terror attacks like it did in 1995, like it did in 2001 and try to blame it on the American people," he said.
The Other Side of Alex Jones
Despite his mistrust of the so-called mainstream media, Jones agreed to let "Nightline" into his world for a day. He operates out of an office in Austin, Texas. The exact address is kept a secret because fans tend to show up uninvited.
Around the office, Jones says he doesn't allow his dim view of human nature to color his personal relationships. He jokes a lot with his staff -- a group of unfailingly polite, mostly young men -- often just seconds after loudly proclaiming doom on the air.
He's also ebullient about his wife and their three young children, who are allowed to watch the show, until the subject matter gets too sinister. His seven-year old son already knows the word propaganda.
"The most important thing is he knows everybody has an agenda, including myself," Jones said.
Jones got his start with a local cable access show in the 1990s. He now has a huge fan base, which includes celebrities like Willie Nelson, Jessie Ventura, Charlie Sheen, even Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag.
While he admits that some people may watch him purely for entertainment, he says the real reason for his recent growth is that the public increasingly mistrusts government. He does seem to have tapped into the dark national mood.
"This info was radical ten years ago. It isn't radical now," he said.
However, Jones sometimes seems to latch onto small pieces of information to prove his much larger, more sinister theories. During "Nightline's" visit, he commented on an article on CNN.com:
"They recommend having a one-child policy in the US," he said on the program, "So just hardcore draconian police state being proposed here in the US."
I looked up the article, which was actually a fluffy, feature piece about a woman who wrote a semi-jokey book about having environmentally friendly sex. The only reference to a one-child policy was a sarcastic aside.
"It's all sarcastic. They're constantly supporting one-child policy. That's what CNN's pushing. And I have clips of CNN and FOX saying humans have too big a carbon footprint and we need to have a one-child policy."
By the end of our time together, Jones was admitting to sometimes overstating his case about the entire government, and every corporation being corrupt.
"Certainly sometimes I do," he says. "But overall I try to tell the facts as I see them."
He says he actually hates his job and would love to stop his show if only the bankers would be put in the jail, the federal government made smaller, and all corrupt wars ended.
But he doesn't see any of those things happening anytime soon. Until then, he says, it's his duty to shake America out of its trance.