If you thought a “McBush” presidency was frightening, look at the connections between John McCain and Jesse Helms. A McHelms administration? Get thee to the passport office.

Sources: Institute for Southern Studies, The Nation, The News & Observer, Project Vote Smart, Center for Responsive Politics, Rightwingwatch.org, John McCain campaign, Mother Jones, The New York Times, muckety.com

Flash feature by Lianne Won; Illustration by J.P. Trostle

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Alex Castellanos produced the “White Hands” commercial Helms used against Harvey Gantt. Castellanos has advised McCain’s campaign on media strategy.

Charlie Black is a GOP strategist responsible for the political comeback of John McCain and is one of his top advisers. McCain and Black have come under fire for Black’s lobbying interests, including dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Black was a key adviser to Helms during much of the senator’s career.

Richard Heckman was chairman of the Fund for a Conservative Majority, a PAC that raised money for Helms, Reagan and other right-wingers. It went bankrupt in 1998. Heckman is now the conservative outreach director for McCain.

Stephen Biegun was senior foreign policy adviser to Helms when he was the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Appointed by President George W. Bush to be executive secretary at the National Security Council, he is now the national security adviser to McCain.

John McCain addressed the Council for National Policy in March. Several Helms supporters attended: Nelson Bunker Hunt, whose family contributed $4,000 to Helms’ 1984 campaign and who donated $90,000 to the Helms-related Institute for American Relations. Hunt was also a member of Crusade for Christ, which contributed $6,000 to Helms. Fellow Crusader for Christ, CNP co-founder and Christian apocalyptic novelist Tim LaHaye; members of the Right-to-Work Committee, which, with its political action committees, contributed $15,000 to Helms in ’84; and Richard Viguerie.

Richard Viguerie helped Helms amass a huge independent donor base through the National Congressional Club. The Federal Election Commission fined the club and the related Jefferson Marketing , Inc., $10,000 for violating federal election rules. Viguerie reportedly supports Ron Paul and Bob Barr.

Paul Weyrich started the Heritage Foundation with Richard Viguerie and Joseph Coors. The Coors family has given money to Helms and to former Sen. Phil Gramm, now one of McCain’s economic policy advisers.

The Coors Family co-founded and funded the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank. Family members have donated to McCain and Phil Gramm.

Phil Gramm, the former Texas senator was on McCain’s economic policy team until last week when he got the boot after calling America a “nation of whiners” that is in a “mental recession.”

The John Birch Society supported Helms; in fall 2004, McCain’s votes aligned with their conservative index 90 percent of the time.

The American Security Council, established in 1955 to monitor “Communists,” in the 1980s launched its hawkish Coalition for Peace Through Strength Program, of which Helms was a member.

The Moral Majority, once led by the now-deceased Jerry Falwell, formed a PAC that donated $5,000 to Helms in 1984. Falwell called Helms “the point man” for the Moral Majority’s causes. Falwell started Liberty University, where McCain delivered the 2006 commencement speech after previously calling Falwell an “an agent of intolerance.”

Neo-fascist radio personality Charlie Coughlin was a member of the American Security Council, which viewed McCain favorably in 2003-04.

Milton Croom of Knightdale is among Helms’ most rabid fans, donating $2,000 to his 1984 campaign. Croom is a member of the American Security Council’s Coalition for Peace Through Strength Program, whose PAC contributed $10,000 to Helms that year.