Wet Work, 1991) displays an undiminished appetite for current affairs and a talent for converting some of America's thornier social issues into light comedy. Less a novel than a series of glib one-acts, Thank You for Smoking chronicles the stress-filled clays of Nick Naylor, chief propagandist for the tobacco industry and personally despised by cancer victims, the medical profession, talk show audiences, and most of Capitol Hill. Naylor's two best friends are equally maligned scapegoats, spokespeople for the alcohol and firearms industries respectively, and this lethal trinity's weekly lunches are the vehicle for Buckley's playful assault on American moral hypocrisy. Naylor and his pals are more or less ordinary folks who worry about losing their jobs, paying the mortgage, and raising their kids. Naylor's problem is that he is good at what he does; a matchless adversary on talk show debates, he deflates opponents with charisma and finesse. When he is kidnapped by mysterious militants who cover him with nicotine patches in the name of clean lungs, he becomes an instant hero, hounded by the press and pampered by Hollywood. As his fame and salary increase, he hobnobs with Oprah Winfrey, Larry King, Today show stars, and thinly disguised caricatures of familiar movie brokers and politicians. Meanwhile, the FBI seems to think the abduction was a deliberate publicity stunt and has evidence to prove it. Naylor goes to jail, a willing fall guy for a society obsessed with money and power. Topical allusions and a quick pace guarantee an amusing read, but Buckley's stereotyped characters, impassive prose, and pat ending limit his satirical reach to entertaining but inconsequential jabs.