O’Rourke (Eat the Rich, 1998, etc.), sharpest of the right-wing comic writers—not a populous gang, to be sure—this time stays at home to deliver his caustic, frequently malevolent commentary.
The stock characters who help the this domestic Republican Dagwood launch miscellaneous brickbats at “dupes,” “bakeheads,” “nooky-moochers,” “hair farmers,” “bird-brains,” and a “hay-breath” include a clever spouse, assistant Max, a couple of offspring, and a teenage neighbor. There are a dozen chapters with monthly headings, though there’s little relation to monthly events, in which O’Rourke unloads on disparate topics. Of course, there’s the UN, Social Security, and Third Way Economics (with help from the Cato Institute). There’s much ad hominem about the Clintons. (He alludes to the distaff Clinton as “that she-ape from New York State.”) There are digressions regarding drugs, booze, art, and business management as well as connubial and parental matters. For no special reason, there is also a long, patently recycled piece about India. Venice as presented in Las Vegas is preferred to the Italian original. He proposes a campaign for a politically correct cause (“Slogan: ‘Alzheimer’s—Fergedaboutdit!’ ”) and waxes kind of enthusiastic about cigars (though a beat behind the craze). Throughout, O’Rourke is as self-assured as any New York mayor, grandly dissing any ideology insufficiently libertarian. Sometimes it’s quite funny and sometimes, like the wine-tasting parody, it has no nose, no legs—it’s simply jejune. One natural target for any other professional political japester, George W. Bush, is never approached—but no surprise there. By the final entry, for August 2001, the rant is no more than bile.
Conservatively speaking, O’Rourke’s current patchwork is not up to his previous entries. But as Dave Barry’s goofy, evil twin, he’s still funnier than Pat Buchanan or Arianna Huffington.