A waggish, hit-or-miss parody that attempts to do for the current administration what The Da Vinci Code did for the Catholic Church.
Not many people know this, but before Thomas Jefferson died, he bequeathed to his slave/mistress Sally Hemmings documents indicating that (1) the French alliance that helped win America’s freedom was based on a pact with the devil, who obtained in return unfettered access to the president forever; (2) most of the Founding Fathers were gay; and (3) the Louisiana Purchase was to be returned to all descendants of African slaves living in the US in October 2003. Since the Louisiana Territory includes 11 red states from the 2000 election and four swing states, the Skull and Bones alums who surround the current President are desperate to keep Jefferson’s legacy secret—if they can find the documents ahead of intrepid Sandra Damsel, niece of the murdered African-American document-keeper at the National Museum of American History, and William Franklin, a professor of American Popular History at Howard Hughes College. The ensuing plot, which makes about as much sense as that of an early Woody Allen film, provides the rickety backbone for dozens of jokes about everyone from George W. Bush, code-named “SPURIOUSGEORGE” by his VP, to John Kerry, who lulls himself to sleep by listening to tapes of his stump speech. Veteran parodist Beard (Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life, not reviewed, etc.) doesn’t lay a finger on either Dan Brown’s thriller or the paranoid bureaucratic style of Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft, but the law of averages allows a few zingers among the dross of mild satire and facile self-reflexivity.
Fewer readers will put down Beard’s parody—inventive, sophomoric, and finally toothless—unfinished than Bill Clinton’s monumentally self-serving biography, but despite a fair quotient of giggles, they’re likely to be just as disappointed.