Is nothing sacred? Democrats want to take away hamburgers from the American people, an ex-Trump aide has warned.
The wild claim about a supposed plot to ban the national food came from onetime White House aide Sebastian Gorka at a conservative political jamboree.
The humble ground-beef patty has become ammunition in a US cultural food fight since a Democrat argued Americans should eat fewer of the sandwiches.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been touting a climate change plan.
Railing against Democrats, Mr Gorka told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland on Thursday: “They want to take your pickup truck.
“They want to rebuild your home. They want to take away your hamburgers.”
Perhaps even more dubiously, he added: “This is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved.”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez provoked conservative scorn this month when she along with Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, unveiled the Green New Deal.
Their policy paper proposed to overhaul the US economy to tackle climate change.
But it was a reference to “farting cows” in a since-retracted accompanying document that invited the ridicule of eager critics.
“We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero, emissions in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast,” the offending section said.
There is no reference to banning cows in the text of the Green New Deal itself. So, as Washington politicos used to say, where’s the beef?
But Republicans seized on it as evidence of a radical far-left agenda within the Democratic party.
President Donald Trump suggested at a rally in El Paso, Texas, that “you’re not allowed to own cows anymore”.
Republican members of the House Natural Resources Committee took to eating hamburgers on Capitol Hill to protest against the Green New Deal.
The issue was quickly taken up on social media by conservatives, who shared photos of themselves cooking and eating beef.
Addressing the controversy, Ms Ocasio-Cortez told a late-night talk show that nobody would be forced to “go vegan”, but that “we’ve got to address factory farming”.
“Maybe we shouldn’t be eating a hamburger for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” added the New York City congresswoman, a self-described democratic socialist.
While bovine flatulence is often connected to climate change, a cow releases more greenhouse gasses through burping (around 600 litres of methane a day).
Some suggested that even if the Green New Deal did call for a ban on burgers, it would be worth it to “save Earth”.
Hamburger-gate raged on this week after Ms Ocasio-Cortez was photographed having dinner at a Washington restaurant with a colleague, who was caught eating the now-controversial meal.
The photograph went viral, with some suggesting the congresswoman was a hypocrite.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, joked that the photo proved a “vast conspiracy” to allow Americans to eat burgers.
Americans eat nearly 50bn hamburgers a year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.