Is there anything funny left to say about our government? O'Rourke seems to think so, and here offers a fractured civics lesson in support of his notion that ``freedom is its own best punishment.'' It's hard to disagree with O'Rourke's contempt for the ``boring'' business of ``giving money to jerks''--the main business, he says, of government these days. But his gonzo libertarianism, while suited to the pages of Rolling Stone (where much of this first appeared), is mainly a disguise for lots of familiar right-wing nostrums. Fortunately, O'Rourke bolsters his tired rhetoric with his own brand of inspired anti-reporting, and also with lots of good old name-calling. No civic booster, O'Rourke celebrates our ``national mindlessness'' and our exceptional interest in ``the pursuit of happiness.'' Washington, though, seems dedicated to robbing its citizens, and then doling out the spoils to whoever sticks out his hand and shouts the loudest. O'Rourke's highly selective fact-gathering takes him to the South Bronx with Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa in order to understand urban poverty; to the D.C. ghetto on a crack bust to witness the war on drugs; to the Department of Transportation to appreciate the folly of bureaucracy; and to Afghanistan (almost) to see US foreign policy in splendid disarray. A stint aboard a missile cruiser reveals his weakness for big weapons--''This is the way to waste government money.'' O'Rourke saves his best shots for ``the Perennially Indignant'' among housing advocates and environmentalists, and kicks around the slimier players in the S&L scandals. But the ``special interest'' group he really slams is us, since all of us manage one way or another to stick our snouts into the government trough. If nothing else, O'Rourke has well earned his place among American humorists as the cracked voice of rock-and-roll Republicanism.