Drunk Uncles

PJ O’Rourke Is America’s Greatest Political Humorist

just like mark twainHere’s a fun fact to start out your day: PJ O’Rourke is “America’s leading political satirist.” It must be true because it says so on the website of the Cato Institute, where P.J O’Rourke is the H.L. Mencken Research fellow. The heading for PJ O’Rourke’s page at the Cato Institute says “Individual liberty, free markets, and peace,” which may or may not be an example of this satire for which he is so famous, it’s tough to tell. Same with this piece he wrote for the Atlantic over the weekend, wherein he expresses disdain for “big ideas” because fascism was a big idea, and so were nuclear weapons, ergo all big ideas are bad. (Except individual liberty, free markets, and peace, presumably.) Is this a joke? Not the thing where he hates big ideas, the thing where he gets to write for the Atlantic and is a research fellow at the Cato Institute? Also, this appears to have been in print. Which means that someone PAID to print this and then paid to mail it to subscribers, which is yet another example of why American media (like American political satire, apparently) is going to hell.

Via The Atlantic:

I don’t have a big idea, and I don’t want one. [NO SHIT --ed] I don’t like big ideas. And I’m not alone. Distaste for grandiose notions is embedded in our language: “What’s the big idea?” “You and your bright ideas.” “Whose idea was this?” “Me and my big ideas.” “Don’t get smart with me.”

Grandiose indeed. Looks like someone has discovered thesaurus.com! But don’t worry, it’s not because he hates intellectualism; he just hates nuclear weapons. And fascism. And communism!

Sponsored Video

This is not anti-intellectualism. This is experience. The 20th century was a test bed for big ideas—fascism, communism, the atomic bomb. Liberty was also a powerful abstraction in the 20th century. But liberty isn’t a big idea. It’s a lot of little ideas about what individuals want to say and do.

Psst. They didn’t invent liberty in the 20th century, FYI. Also, by this logic, isn’t fascism a bunch of little ideas about how the role of the individual within the context of a larger society? And isn’t the atomic bomb a bunch of little ideas comprised of a series of tiny nuclear reactions?

We still don’t know what ideas will have which results. But I fear the bigger, the worse. And we’re back in an era of big ideas. Our financiers have very big ideas. The rest of us are left looking for investment advisers clueless enough to be honest.

No, really. This is the pretty much the whole piece. This is what it takes to be a fellow at the Cato Institute and be “America’s leading political satirist” and have your books translated into a dozen languages: “Big Ideas: Why I hate them.” Next up: “Politics: Who Needs It?” and “Lawyers: Why I Don’t Trust Them,” followed by “Newfangled Technology: Not As Good As Everything Back in My Day” and for the grand finale “Young People: You Call That Music?”

[The Atlantic0

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About the author

Kris E. Benson writes about politics for Wonkette and is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. This will come in handy for when they finally open that philosophy factory in the next town over. @Kris_E_Benson

View all articles by Kris E. Benson

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288 comments

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      I'm so old, I remember when PJ O'Rourke was funny. (He used to write funny stuff about cars.)

      1. tessiee

        P.J. O'Rourke was never funny. He was a fascist asshole whose sole contribution to the National Lampoon was an incredible vocabulary consisting entirely of ethnic slurs. The intervening years haven't improved either his personality or his writing.

      2. Deuce_MacInaugh

        I picked up his collection of car essays for a buck last year. On page 2, he started whining about how the state was limiting his liberty because it's illegal to drive drunk. Luckily, we ran out of toilet paper, so it came in handy after all.

    2. actor212

      This is CBS Television News, for November 14, 1947. I am Douglas Edwards.

      This just in: Humor has died of a sudden birth of a completely unfunny man, one Patrick Jake O'Rourke….

  1. DrunkIrishman

    Wasn't the creation of America just one, big idea? Those crazy Founding Fathers. Amirite?

        1. sullivanst

          Yeah, it's cute how dumb they are, isn't it?

          Especially when they're the same ones running around trying to push through ballot initiatives.

          We can, of course, also add small-r "republicanism" to the list.

          1. Doktor Zoom

            Also "states' rights" and a fanatical devotion to the 2nd and 10th Amendments, to the exclusion of any mention of the others.

          2. sullivanst

            Nobody expects the NRA! Our chief weapon is guns. Guns and fear. Fear and guns. Our two chief weapons are fear and guns… and ruthless efficiency… Our *three* weapons are fear, guns, and ruthless efficiency… and an almost fanatical devotion to the 2nd Amendment.

            (My point, of course, was that as exercises in direct democracy, ballot initiatives directly contradict their claims about what we are not.)

    1. NYNYNYjr

      America? I think it was a geological movement, like Pangaea coming apart. But the U.S.A.– that was like definitely a case of tons of little ideas. Of course, who gives a shit?

  2. anniegetyerfun

    Isn't this guy on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me* occasionally?

    *I want Peter Sagal AND Karl Kassel, I don't care what anyone says.

        1. scvirginia

          I also like that show, but I've never heard PJO say anything funny on that show or anywhere else…

          1. scvirginia

            And Paula Poundstone. I appreciate the fact that in the news quiz she'll frequently take the opportunity to give a funny answer instead of the correct (boring) one.

          2. Doktor Zoom

            To be fair, his anecdote about tripping on acid and then hearing Up With People singing "What Color Is God's Skin?" was pretty good. Otherwise, nope, not funny.

          3. scvirginia

            You're safe- that was Gary Oldman who claims he stopped doing drugs after encountering UWP while tripping on LSD. I remember that episode (& double-checked the transcript to be sure I wasn't tripping myself).

          4. Doktor Zoom

            Ah,but if you listen to the audio, it's definitely O'Rourke who says it, not Oldman. Clearly, whoever does the transcripts was so stoned that they couldn't tell which one has an English accent.

          5. scvirginia

            Yep. The transcript lied. I listened to it, & that was definitely not GO.

            So PJO said something fairly amusing once & it was natural for me to assume it must have been someone else. So did the transcriptionist, apparently.

    1. savethispatient

      PSA: If you want a funny version of Wait Wait, try the BBC Radio 4's "The News Quiz", hosted by everybody's favourite Danish lesbian, Sandi Toksvig. It's available here when it's on air – they take turns with "the Now Show", which is what's there now.

    1. Doktor Zoom

      Shortly after this story went up, the local NPR affiliate ran a promo for a lame 4th of July special by the Capitol Steps. Coincidence? I think not.

          1. emmelemm

            A little late, but meant to say – You made it back to Idaho in one piece, it would appear! Hooray!

      1. DrunkIrishman

        Nothing worse than Capitol Steps trying to lampoon lame politicians with lame humor.

    2. SorosBot

      "The trading gap shuffle, we're in a heap of trouble, doing the trading gap shuffle!"

      Bart: He already sang this song!
      Marge: No, that was about the budget gap. This is the trading gap.

    1. DrunkIrishman

      I wouldn't call those ideas and more a steaming pile of awful thoughts that come from some of the most warped, regressive assholish minds in American history.

  3. stopthemovie

    Did he write this on a typewriter or a computer? Because both were big ideas at one time like he was funny at one time.

  4. sullivanst

    He's trying to ensure he's America's leading satirist by making himself unsatirizable. Brings to mind the 30 Rock episode where they try to make a Weird Al-proof hit.

  5. coolhandnuke

    Hunter S. Thompson and George Carlin will be read, viewed, and discussed for as long as we are allowed to be on this planet.

    PJ O"Rourke's and Dennis Miller's craft will end up in garage sales and evolutionary cul-de-sacs of humor.

      1. DrunkIrishman

        Miller. I think was a captain with the NYPD in Greenwich Village back during the 70s.

    1. MosesInvests

      To be fair, Dennis Miller *used* to be funny. I caught his act when I was in college, back in the '80's. I'm still laughing about his "Hobbesian relationship-nasty, brutish and short."

      1. coolhandnuke

        I agree. His rants, vocabulary and arcana did stir the brain and funny bone–at that time….which seems like eons past.

        1. Butch_Wagstaff

          I'll admit to liking Miller at one point. But I was just a young 'un.
          So, yes, seems like eons ago.

      2. tessiee

        Spy magazine described him as "pissy, self-satisfied comic Dennis Miller", a description upon which it is impossible to improve — but I agree, he was at least sorta funny, and then after 9/11, he pretty much lost his fucking mind.

        1. coolhandnuke

          I made a "Spy" reference earlier. I'm trying to think of Miller's right wing comic doppelshithead to be "separated at birth with" but I'm drawing jack squat. A little help Wonkettes….

      3. MilwaukeeKent

        I booked him in a college in the mid/late '80s on a double bill with Emo Phillips. Emo was sweet to deal with and had the audience rolling in the aisles. Miller was a complete ass, couldn't have been more unpleasant, was not at all funny and plainly didn't want to be there. Should have flipped the bill and had him open for Emo, but I don't think Miller or his management would've stood for it.

        1. Midway117

          Speaking of relics from the past, I remember reading O'Rourke in Rolling Stone when I was 12. Turns out I was reading way below my grade level.

    2. fuflans

      he embarrasses me every time he opens his mouth on wait wait don't tell me.

      especially when he's with the delicious paula poundstone.

      1. Chow Yun Flat

        "Wait, wait" comes to a dead stop whenever O'Rourke says something. He is a real drag on the show since he doesn't understand concepts like "timing" and "funny".

          1. Chow Yun Flat

            Indeed–Mr. Ultimate Cool, Chow Yun Fat. Shooting one guy while deciding whether to shoot a different guy.

            The days after "A Better Tomorrow" premiered in Hong Kong and Singapore teenaged boys all over east and southeast Asia were walking around dressed in a black trench coat and chewing on a toothpick.

        1. tessiee

          ^
          All fans of Paula Poundstone should check out an animated series called "Home Movies", where she's the voice of the Mom. The series itself is hit or miss, but her wry/dry reading of her character's dialogue is one of its highlights.

  6. anniegetyerfun

    This is experience. The 20th century was a test bed for big ideas—fascism, communism, the atomic bomb.

    Ha, that's funny, because Karl Marx died in 1883. I get confused, though, is it the 1800s that count as the twentieth century?

    1. weejee

      I think its the fault that the 21st Century didn't start until 12:00 AM January 1st, 2001. A year late and many grandiose ideas short. It was a day when Saint Ronnie was starting to put forth his best ideas.

        1. sullivanst

          Instead of by fucking big ideas, which is what PJ's attempting, but simply waving your dick from a considerable distance isn't fucking, Mr. O'Rourke.

      1. WABishop

        Centuries, what are centuries? I'll tell you what they are, centuries are just another big idea of the left that has dragged this country down into the gutter for too long.

  7. anniegetyerfun

    Wait, oh, holy shit you weren't kidding. That whole piece is, like, 200 words long.

    1. Butch_Wagstaff

      I read it and was glad that it was so mercifully short. But I just don't get it. Is this what the Cato Institute thinks is "humor"? I didn't even chuckle.

        1. SayItWithWookies

          The market will decide. But O'Rourke will get paid anyway, so he doesn't give a fuck. That's what libertarian economics is all about.

  8. BloviateMe

    I find this guy vastly irritating. Cross a desire to be the next Erma Bombeck with Rain Man's nuanced political humor, and you get this steaming pile of headache-inducer.

    1. josephbrill

      Once upon a time, when I read anything that cost 25 cents at the GoodWill, I read a few of his books.

      The man came across as a bitter 'In France, I'm a God' Jerry Lewis complaining about getting stuck with the non-photogenic drooly kid.

  9. XeckyGilchrist

    Yeah, whenever liberals get writing about how there are no funny conservatives, someone will genuflect in O'Rourke's direction (usually the writer of the original post.) Glad to see that doesn't always happen.

  10. Chet Kincaid

    There's a book about Boomer humor called "Going Too Far" by Tony Hendra that nailed this asshole to the wall. O'Rourke took National Lampoon down a spiraling toilet of unironic nigger jokes and sexism for fun and profit, then got in early on the fashionable hipster Reaganism of the '80s. Now he is pretty much irrelevant, showing up looking half in the bag on Bill Maher's show occasionally and mumbling half-witticisms. He doesn't like big ideas because he doesn't have any ideas bigger than drawings of pickaninnies and topless chicks, though he fooled people for about a decade there. (Yes, Tony Hendra allegedly molested his own daughter; takes a jerk to know one.)

    1. doloras

      But he's not going to co-manage this band with any woman, particularly one who looks like an Australian's nightmare!

      1. tessiee

        I got the feeling that the Ian Faith character was pretty much just Hendra being himself.

      1. Chet Kincaid

        Spy was already fucked because all of the original braintrust left before Hendra got there. For you youngsters, Spy was Gawker and Wonkette, only with actual journalism; things like those charts comparing two things that are tangentially similar via dumb jokes that you read in your throwaway commuting papers were done with a lot more intelligence by Spy in the '80s.

    2. Doktor Zoom

      Tony Hendra, on the other hand, was pretty fucking funny. O'Rourke drove NatLamp straight into the shitter, and is seldom good for more than a chuckle.

      1. Boehneriffic

        Hendra was pretty fucking funny. O'Donoghue would cut your heart out with his wit. O'Rourke was a juvenile fuckwit who pandered to the lowest common denominator. The Lampoon never really survived him.

        1. tessiee

          If we're giving thumbs up to brilliant/funny/seriously f'ed up Lampoon alumni, it would be criminal not to mention the late, great Doug Kenney.

      2. tessiee

        "Tony Hendra, on the other hand, was pretty fucking funny."

        This many years later, I can read The Book of Lamentations, and still die laughing.

    3. tessiee

      YES!!
      For ONCE, I don't have to preface a quote with, "I don't remember where I read this, but…"
      From Tony Hendra's book, Going Too Far :
      "There was something bothersome about him, though, something not quite right which put you on your guard. As managing editor, I was charged with developing new talent, so O'Rourke and I hung out somewhat. [...] He had a way of repeating back to you your own voice [...] by mimicking your humor [...] Someone — I think it was Kelly — put it another way. O'Rourke was a narc, a very good narc who hit all the right notes, but whose police-issue shoes showed beneath his bell-bottoms."

      Tony Hendra may have his fair share of issues and then some, but that description strikes me as dead on.

    4. tessiee

      "showing up looking half in the bag on Bill Maher's show"

      Wow, that must just about kill him, since Bill Maher is doing essentially the same sort of upstart/outsider humor that PJ tried to do, except successfully.

      1. tessiee

        but first, they spend a few decades patting each other on the back and reassuring each other that they're right and it's all a conspiracy by those big mean liberals, and making ass tons of money.

  11. glamourdammerung

    The only thing that is possibly humorous about PJ O'Rourke is that his anus would rather have cancer than be associated with him.

  12. Butch_Wagstaff

    He should get Andy Rooney's old gig on 60 Minutes.
    "Whatever happened to carbon paper?"
    "Where did all the phone booths go?"
    "You can't tell the boys from the girls these days…"
    "What's up with Metamucil?"

    1. not that Radio

      "AAAAAnd another thing. Why is it called a hot water heater? Hot water doesn't need heating. It should be called a cold water heater."

      1. Butch_Wagstaff

        "Why does it say on a package of frozen food to keep it frozen? It's frozen food so, of course, you've got to keep it frozen…"
        "Ever get your tie caught in your typewriter?"
        "I miss the old days when you had to get up to change TV channels or adjust the rabbit ear antennae to get a good signal to see police turning hoses on those uppity commie civil rights folk."
        "Homosexuals seem to be sprouting up everywhere now. I saw one on the street the other day. I'm sure he was homosexual because he was walking a little dog."

        1. ProgressiveInga

          "Did you ever wonder why hotdogs come in packs of 10 or 12 and hotdog buns come in packs of 8?"

          1. Butch_Wagstaff

            "Why do I have to press 1 for English? I speak English. Don't those broads working at those voice mail switchboards know that?"

          2. tessiee

            "Why, Gladys at Central used to recognize my voice and patch me right through to Merle"

    2. tessiee

      "And why do they call it TAKING a dump? It's not like you take anything. They should call it LEAVING a dump."
      "Hey, that's pretty good, Beavis."

    3. NYNYNYjr

      I love Andy Rooney. It was like Unfrozen Caveman Observational Humor. I miss him. "Remember when Democrats were the racists and Republicans were from the north? Now I don't know what's going on! And another thing…when I was young we called elephants pachyderms, now they call them elephants, when did that happen?"

      1. tessiee

        "when I was young we called elephants pachyderms, now they call them elephants"

        When Andy Rooney was young, they called elephants mammoths.

    4. tessiee

      Isn't there a comic strip that's composed entirely of this kind of "humor"? It's called "Plodders" or something like that.

  13. BigSkullF*ckingDog

    What about the Atom Bomb? Was it a big idea? I mean, atoms are super, super tiny and its right there in the name.

  14. new_pic_for_NEWTer

    H.L. Mencken Research fellow

    I suspect he must spend all of his time in this role researching Mr. Mencken, formerly of Baltimore, and getting comfortable with the realization that he is a slug, an oozing thing, a mere amoeba in comparison.

    1. coolhandnuke

      Your use of slug, oozing and amoeba brought Mencken's Cultured Pearl Cafe to mind. It was a great place for Baltimorons to drink and shoot the shit. It had a healthy 15-year run, closing in 1998…I left Charm City in 1991.

  15. orygoon

    But come on. Being the Cato Institute's Humor Guy? Tall midget stuff, totally. WTF were you expecting?

    1. BigSkullF*ckingDog

      This Blog wouldn't exist if conservatives weren't funny.
      Oh … you meant on purpose. Nevermind.

    2. tessiee

      The MST3K guys are pretty funny.
      I was actually very disappointed to hear that Mike Nelson is a conservative.

      1. gurukalehuru

        I was disappointed to read, the other day, a few choice wingnut witticisms rolling off the tongue of Rob Schneider, who I consider a true comic genius.
        We can't, honestly, say that NO conservatives are funny. It's rare, and points up something seriously twisted and fucked up in their personalities, but there you go. Jon Lovitz cracks me up, too.

      2. Fare la Volpe

        Sort of. He's a "conservative" in the same way Andrew Sullivan keeps pretending he's a "conservative" despite being for everything conservatives are against.

        Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy have done wonders on evening him out.

  16. Doktor Zoom

    Scott Brown will hire O'Rourke to tell us why we should not trust PROFESSOR Warren, what with all her dangerous thinking stuff.

  17. Hammiepants

    I'm sure he has a lawn he is jealously guarding from marauding 99%-ers ("what's up with poor young people? In my day we got a paper route or sold a kidney, AND WE WERE GLAD FOR THE MONEY.")

  18. chascates

    But can he pay the piano like Mark Russell (who unfortunately is still alive but at least not on PBS any more)?

    1. GeneralLerong

      Was that the one where he refers to the Filipino commander as resembling "an attack hamster?"

  19. Nostrildamus

    When he's on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", you can always guess which fake news story he made up by the gratuitous use of ethnic stereotypes. I sure wish some listener-contestant would verbalize this when playing that game.

  20. flamingpdog

    We're supposed to take someone seriously who's named after bedtimewear and the corinthian leather guy on Fantasy Island?

  21. Designer_Radio

    Our financiers have very big ideas. The rest of us are left looking for investment advisers clueless enough to be honest.

    Uh, your financiers are the Koch Bros. You should STFU now.

    1. JohnnyQuick

      Come on! They're America's Favorite Sons-of-a-Nazi-Salesman! Exceptin' dear old Poppy Bush, of course.

      1. MosesInvests

        Sons-of-a-Nazi-Salesman who, ironically enough, made his money building oil refineries for Joe Stalin back in the USSR.

      1. tessiee

        "Halfway between Dennis Miller and Glenn Beck"

        Victoria's second favorite kind of sandwich.

      1. Butch_Wagstaff

        Special made for a 50-some-yr-old woman who thinks she needs to dress like prepubescent girl.

    1. Generation[redacted]

      She has one of those big ideas you don't want to see.

      Oh wait, that's her ass.

    1. hippie13

      There was a time actually, much like Dennis Miller though he seemed to of lost it during the last decade.

  22. Dashboard Buddha

    "But liberty isn’t a big idea. "

    Really? Tell that to every pharaoh, baron, grand vizier, priest, king, prince, preacher, prime minister, emperor, cesar, czar, and queen who actively worked to keep "liberty" in the hands of a select few.

    1. Butch_Wagstaff

      Makes me think that I should have saved all the dreck that I wrote for my 10th grade creative writing class.

    2. emmelemm

      I wrote a "term paper" in ninth grade comparing Isaac Asimov and J.R.R. Tolkien (and I guess, more broadly, fantasy vs sci-fi).

      Good times.

      1. Chet Kincaid

        I wrote a paper as a college freshman comparing and contrasting Revolution as seen through Rush's "Bastille Day" and the Doobie Brothers' "Takin' It To The Streets." I coulda been the black Greil Marcus!

  23. sullivanst

    It gives us pause to hear our spouse say “I have an idea!”

    Maybe you, because you're a misogynist. My wife has good ideas, so those are words I like to hear.

    If our boss says it, we panic unless we’re sufficiently quick-witted to spill coffee on the iPad the boss has just used to Google some portentous concept.

    This is understandable – your boss was, it seems, stupid enough to hire you, but it's rather irrelevant to the concept of big ideas, because he's clearly a man of tiny brain. And yes, I'm assuming a male boss, because, well, you probably wouldn't work for a woman, and a woman probably wouldn't hire you, you dinosaur.

  24. rickmaci

    Just look at those grandiose thinking, show off, intellectual, big ideas founders. What snobs.

    "When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. "

    1. Butch_Wagstaff

      If by "big idea" you mean the type of big idea I drop into the toilet every morning after I get outta bed.

    2. hippie13

      He does have a sense of gravity about him, he doesn't wear clothes they just circle his mass.

  25. littlebigdaddy

    He's really gone downhill since his days writing for the National Lampoon. I still remember that story about Dartmouth frat hazing and the frozen hot dogs.

    1. tessiee

      That was Chris Miller, who is about fifty billion times funnier and smarter than P.J. O'Rourke, and about eighty billion times better looking.

  26. Rotundo_

    Being the resident humorist of Cato is like being head chef of McDonalds or Dennys: One *is* the creator of the stuff, but the name of the joint gets mentioned quite a ways later in the conversation. Miller used to be good with cultural and obscure reference humor too, but never grew past the schtick. Kinda like watching Leno, which is like watching an endless loop.

  27. Warpde

    B. J. O'Dork / Stewart 2012.

    Not necessarily in that order.

    What?
    Where's your humor?
    Think of the children.

  28. fuflans

    this is OT but GlaxoSmithKline healthcare fraud? barclays rate manipulation?

    wass up britain? you rootin for our man barry?

    1. Negropolis

      Nah. Just so happens that some sectors of the finance industry in the UK happen to be some of the least regulated in the developed world. It's why London, arguably, became the financial capital of the world, again (though, New Yorkers will swear to you up and down that they are the center of the world).

      1. sullivanst

        Then the Brits remind people that the standard benchmark US banks and credit card companies use as a basis for their interest rates is LIBOR.

        Frankfurt's been trying hard to become the financial center of Europe, and the lobby in London trying to prevent that from happening is extremely powerful.

  29. mavenmaven

    I read the little piece (pun intended). What is his point, other than "I don't know anything about science or anything"?

  30. flowerofhighrank

    yeah, he cracked me up when he said liberals were worse than the KKK. That's a riot. Every time he's on Bill Maher, I have to scrub my spit off the TV screen. F-ing traitorous ex-hippie.

  31. tessiee

    For humanitarian reasons, I shall recount here the one and only funny thing P.J. O'Rourke ever wrote, thereby saving everyone else the agony of actually having to read him:

    "It was in Washington DC, and I was walking back to my hotel late at night, when some guy tried to mug me. Now this sounds like it was scary, and it might actually have been, except that the mugger was on the other side of the street, and the way he tried to mug me was by yelling, 'Come over here and give me all your money!' I yelled back, 'No!', and kept walking."

  32. tessiee

    This is right up there with Newt being conservatives' idea of a smart person and Silly Sarah being conservatives' idea of a hot woman.

  33. tessiee

    PJ O’Rourke Is America’s Drunk Uncle who Makes Everybody Squirm around the Thanksgiving Table because He Won't Stop with the Racist Jokes and Made Little Cousin Sally Cry by Asking her If She had any Hair on her Pussy Yet

    1. Butch_Wagstaff

      "Did you hear the one about the Negro who went college? Me neither!"
      "Hehe. Sally's going to get a lot of boys with those buddin' tits of her. Unless she decides to be a dyke! Well, maybe she'll let the boys watch. Hahaha! Is there any scotch left?"

      1. tessiee

        Isn't it amazing how every family has at least one of these. You'd think that, even just mathematically, someone would be spared, but that never seems to be the case.

        1. Fare la Volpe

          We were spared, mercifully, which is a wonder of science seeing as we're Irish Catholics with a genetic predisposition toward alcoholism.

          The worst we have is my dad's sister, who thinks puns about sausages are the height of humor, and my dad's cousin Ricky, who has probably masturbated to George Washington's portrait at least thrice today.

  34. Beowoof

    Hey PJ, Air traffic control is a big idea, Interstate Highways big idea, weather forecasting big idea, traveling to space was big idea, without the government none of this stuff happens fuckhead. Here is a big idea for you PJ, take your big head out of your big ass.

  35. tessiee

    "It gives us pause to hear our spouse say “I have an idea!”"

    I've never met Mrs. O'Rourke (although I suspect that she may be "from Canada", if you know what I mean), but I can well believe that it gives Li'l PJ pause when his wife says, "I have an idea!", because it probably has to do with exactly how much lime is needed to dissolve a body.

  36. Negropolis

    Who?

    Well, at least conservatives are being honest, now. They really don't have any big ideas; they barely have any ideas, at all. The Party in 1984 didn't want it citizens to think or have any ideas, either.

    "Those Damned Kids: Get Off My Lawn!"

  37. MilwaukeeKent

    P.J O'Rourke, along with Kathleen Parker, is a reasonable conservative ("the party left them") I'm willing to half-heartedly defend as someone that you could at least have a conversation/debate with, unlike the Hannitys/Bachmanns that are now the GOP's Main ex-Stream. He's phoning it in here, but he has his moments.
    I saw him at a wedding reception in New Hampshire in '97 (he was wearing a green suit, which can be a hard thing to pull off and, at least during the reception, I didn't see anyone try) and I wanted to thank him personally for the National Lampoon. It ruined my life and I'm forever sincerely grateful. I thought twice and didn't bother him after all.
    Also, he was a good friend to Hunter Thompson. Not sure what he'd make of Mencken's The National Letters, Part IV, though. For a Republican –"Chiefly wealthy Industrialists at the Country Club and Interior Decorator stage of culture"–it might be as hard to reconcile as the Sermon On the Mount.

    1. tessiee

      "I wanted to thank him personally for the National Lampoon."

      Please see the comment thread starting with Chet's post about how P.J. O'Rourke pretty much single-handedly ran the National Lampoon into the shitter.

      1. MilwaukeeKent

        Right. I read that and agree it went downhill into the late '70s, irrelevant by the Reagan era. I think he had help on the way down. It also became a short-lived media empire with long-living properties like Animal House that will make money forever for someone. I think it reached a point early on when it was hard to keep topping itself. There was a rag in the late '70s early '80s called Wet Magazine that I remember with much affection. Ahead-of State-of-the-Art covers, provocative insightful articles on art, architecture, style and random weirdness, "the magazine of gourmet bathing". They peaked with a cover featuring two pigs fucking (on both front and back — a-a-k-k-w-w-a-a-r-r-d-d) and articles on "sex with the dead" (summation: not a good idea). Complaints. The next month featured Elvis Costello on the cover and increasingly innocuous nothing articles. Wet Magazine disappeared shortly thereafter.
        I didn't say a word to O'Rourke when I had the chance (and Kenney wasn't there, nor Beard) but through them I found Kerouac and the Beats, then Pynchon and Gaddis,and it changed life for the weird and the better.

  38. Negropolis

    What's the big idea? America's the big idea, PJ. It's a Big Fucking Deal, in fact.

    Not all big ideas are good ideas, but neither are all ideas, in general, big or small. The size of the idea doesn't determine the value of said idea. Sorry.

    1. coolhandnuke

      ….an idea can still change the world. I've witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I've seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them… but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it… ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love… And it is not an idea that I miss…

      From V For Vendetta

      1. tessiee

        "If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas. Most of them will be wrong, and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away." — Linus Pauling (the only person in history to have won two unshared Nobel Prizes)

  39. badgitator

    So political satire in this declining empire has become repeating the same joke for 20 years?

  40. shortsandpants

    Out of all the ideas he doesn't like about the 20th Century, how in God's name did he forget his own conception?

  41. tessiee

    "P.J O’Rourke is the H.L. Mencken Research fellow"

    I'll take the high road for once and bypass the obvious cheap shot about why someone who's probably closer to 70 than 60 is still in school (because a fellowship is a scholarship, right?). However, I will point out the irony of a research fellow railing against ideas.

  42. mrblifil

    He was fucking funny in the Seventies, when he was instrumental to the success of National Lampoon. Of course I was 12…I took laughs however they were offered.

  43. johnnyzhivago

    PJ's next book is:

    "Ideas: Just a Bunch of Random Thoughts Written Down for People to Read"

    Subtitle: "Just buy the fucking book, I need the money, ok"

  44. barto

    To be followed up with "I''m a Fucking Freeze-Dried Old Curmudgeon, Amirite?"

    Big laughs, good times!

  45. DHarcavy

    O'Rourke slipped into hackery shortly after he left the National Lampoon. And that was back in the 1970s.

  46. DahBoner

    When I read this, I want to head on down to Toby Keith's I Love This Scar and Gill and here tell all about his latest scar…

  47. C_R_Eature

    Hey, P.J, you forgot to mention the other Big Idea that arose out of the 20th Century.

    I have on my desk a Magic Screen which, with a few gestures and commands, I can have the words, sounds and images of genuinely creative and funny people at hand almost instantaneously. A rich, deep and varied universe of thought stretching across almost all of human history. This makes it absolutely unnecessary to have to settle for the writings of such a lazy mediocrity as yourself.

    I'll bet you hate it.

      1. C_R_Eature

        That is Most Excellent and I will definitely tune in. Thanks! Will you be able to go down there and play with that array? So cool.
        There's a lot of remarkable things happening in Science all around, these days. I'd bet large that there's pretty definitive proof of the Higgs boson coming out of CERN tomorrow – just from all the media leaks. I'm sure they at least saw it's shadow and have footprints.
        It it weren't for all the crazed politics, the disastrous economic situation and ongoing ecological collapse, we'd be living in a Golden Age.
        More OT: I was doing a keyword search today and came up with This. Gizmodo, of all places. The article is fraught with mistakes, but the comments are priceless and had me in tears. For the Actual Skinny on the project, see: This.

        1. not that Radio

          Island 51?

          I haven't got to go yet. I'm approaching the point where I'm knowledgeable enough about our operations here, and they're just getting started, that I could leverage a trip down there for a brain dump, learn what they're doing, apply "lessons learned" from our experiences, etc. After this month's TeaParty-inspired layoffs, of course. See who's still standing.

          Can you imagine, if this were 1958, someone saying "well, we're starting to catch up to those damn Rooskies, we have the first working transistors, H-bombs, huge advances in communications, radar, medical technology and disease prevention. Let's defund everything right now." WTF? Scientists comprise about 12% of our staff. So that leaves 500-something accountants, metalworkers, carpenters, technicians, auto mechanics, typists, data analysts, the list goes on, who would become unemployed, just 'cause some moron wants to stick it to the "scientists" and "bureaucrats".

          The baggers don't seem to have a clear definition of what those things are, or what the consequences would be. Basically, "bureaucrat" = someone who works in an office. But it's become the boogeyman sine qua non for these idiots. Guh. Some inbred financial expert gets a $21M bonus for losing $9B, and I've got people crawling up my ass because the concrete cost for four stinking antenna pads was $600 instead of the $300 that I was led to believe. "Can we even afford this?!!?" Can we afford to mount antennas in concrete? I should hope so. Otherwise there's no point in even attempting anything else.

          How was your day, dear?

          1. C_R_Eature

            Well, aside from scrambling to get facilities settled from storm damage, trying to lash together a report that needed to go out yesterday and doing the bob and weave through the beach bound tourist traffic just to get home, my day wasn't all that bad as yours.

            I was surprised to hear that we were constructing a new Plum Island for Nefarious Purposes no doubt and that it's really off the coast of North America and not located in the middle the largest estuary in the United States. I'll have to look for hidden hatches or submarine bases next week.

            I went through 4 rounds of layoffs when I worked for a large consulting company – partly due to the economy and partly due to incompetent wildly overpaid executives. I survived all of them – because I had a critical position and I was cheap -but I saw a lot of good people go and morale went into the tank for a long time. Now, my [shop] is just climbing back from years of budget caps, "personnel reductions", static salaries and so on. No one is too confident, though as we've all seen The Abyss and know all it would take is a nudge and the hard times will come roaring back. This, in an area that's fat with Defense Spending. Anyone who says that Government doesn't create jobs hasn't seen the daily traffic jam heading towards Ft. Mead during the week or tried to drive around the DC beltway during rush hour. Your Tax Dollars at work.
            And, fuck, speaking of Tax Dollars I'd so much rather spend my bit of money extending the human race's understanding of the Universe rather than filling the pockets of no-bid contract war profiteering companies hired to manage our last and latest misbegotten foreign military adventures.

            Hang on, keep your head low and get down to Chile somehow. Take pictures, too.

          2. not that Radio

            I didn't realize that Dr. Moreau was still at it, working for DHS. Generally when we think of the Army constructing/commandeering Islands for Nefarious Purposes, it's more along the lines of Kwajalein. The government can't create jobs, or indeed do anything right or well, except create multi-billion-dollar radar installation boondoggles that employ 10s of thousands of people. But that doesn't count.

            I will likely survive this round of layoffs. But yes, morale is in the crapper; everyone's a nervous wreck because management hasn't given any process or structure to the process. The 5% could be anybody. We do have an abundance of Assistant Deputy Directors and Senior Project Managers, each of whose salary could probably pay for 3 – 5 of us, and they're not likely to lay themselves off. Their travel budgets are equal to my whole project budget. It's the NASA Phenomenon, as my buddy who used to work at Ft Meade (No Such Agency) called it. He's seen many government contractors get gutted by this very process, and end up with an inverted pyramid.

            We're managed by a consortium of universities, who contract us to the NSF. That contract is up for rebidding in two years. You've probably seen this — the way it's expected to go is that our contractor will need to slash everything in order to make us look "competitive", so whoever survives this round will soon see salary cuts, more layoffs, reductions in benefits. I'm at a crux, where I need to decide whether I should get while the getting is good, or wait until I'm up against 30 of my colleagues for 4 meager positions, and then do twice my current workload for 80% of the pay, with no benefits. This is what is killing morale. I'm thinking forward to the Romney Economy, when the only jobs will be Defense jobs. It kills me to consider that, because I'm such a commie peacenik, but perhaps if I start now, I will get my pick of jobs, rather than waiting until the market is glutted with out-of-work engineers, scrambling to get whatever Death Industrial Complex mail room positions remain.

            In the meantime, I will take your advice, and accelerate my effort to see Chile. It's supposed to be a cool mix of modern Europe and rural New Mexico. Just my speed. Maybe I'll rent a fast car, while I'm there.

          3. C_R_Eature

            Actually, our efforts to perfect the race of Worker Mutants are progressing nicely. they're tireless, take orders well, are non Unionized and It's been weeks since they've dismembered anyone.
            Land based Ballistic Missile Defense has found the prefect home with the USAF, as it's a completely Faith-Based program, a grand technical Failure and an utter waste of resources. The Navy's Aegis system kicks it's ass 5 ways from Sunday and has actually worked in combat.
            By all means get to that array while someone else is paying the tab.Today's economy is Get what you can, While you can and Get out on top. Sucks, but it's the way of the world. As long as you do good work and don't screw over your co-workers you may be able to sleep better at night.
            If you rent a fast car, make sure it has no top.

          4. C_R_Eature

            You might want to look into this place should you need to Bail Out. They have their hands in all manner of things. A good shop and people I know seem to like it there.

          5. not that Radio

            That's great — thanks! Within twenty seconds of searching I found three positions that would fit me perfectly (except for the Death Industrial Complex thing, but we've already discussed that). Mrs D just wants to get out of here, and into some place with a metropolitan region.

            Although it appears their job search tool was written in a 1997 version of PalmOS.

          6. C_R_Eature

            Happy to help. This place will surely fit Mrs. D's bill – close to two metro regions and with one helluva lot more water.

            Palm OS. I wouldn't be surprised. IT Nerds are pretty much the same quirky cloistered Caste Creatures everywhere.

          7. radio-of-owls

            Chile is indeed quite European, specifically English and German. The first time I went there in 2001, we spent a week in Chile then crossed over into Argentina. The contrast was hilarious. The Argentines are Spanish/Italian and they positively are unable to:

            -talk with their hands tied
            -refrain from hugging
            -exhibit emotional reserve

            Chile changed a LOT between my first and second visits, but it's still rigid and conservative, socially and (duh) politically. But the food? Oh god, it's to die for! They are completely loco for locos!

          8. not that Radio

            The plan for me to go was actually the brainchild of my soon-to-be-unemployed technician, who used to work on the Chile project. It's a brilliant plan, and it will probably work, if I time it correctly. Of course, I have no travel budget, and I would have to choose between sending little Suzie to college or taking her with me to Chile. Unless it's a one-way ticket. Mrs D would like to get out in advance of the Romney Economy. And the Chile project is the one venture whose budget is actually increasing.

            mmmm….locos

    1. SenileAgitation

      I hope so. I believe I can be as unfunny as PJ at half the price, and since the Koch's have taken over the Cato Institute I'm sure they'll need a newsletter or something I could ruin in my spare time. Resume's in the mail.

  48. Estproph

    Humorist (n): unfunny comedian. (From the Latin humorista – Dude, that's not funny.)

  49. gurukalehuru

    OT, of course, but I think it's very funny that Sir Bob Whorediamond, formerly of Barclays honorable bank, of Britain, has resigned to spend more time with his family, or whatever the euphemism is over there on knife crime island, and one has to stop and wonder how this will effect Willard M. Rmoney's Grand Olympicke Fund Raysing Extravaganza, scheduled for about 3 weeks from now in London.

  50. prommie

    There is one thing PJ always says that I like, he says his momma told him this way back, "there ain't noone too poor to pick up their yard."

    And you have to love any man who writes and has published a story called "How to Drive Fast On Drugs While Getting Your Wing Wang Squeezed And Not Spill Your Drink." And his treatise on Modern Manners is excellent, especially on such things as abortion, divorce and second marriage ettiquette, topics which Emily Post neglects.

  51. Allmighty_Manos

    "I don’t have a big idea, and I don’t want one."

    When Republicans run for office they talk about how severely conservative they are. When Democrats run, they talk about wonky BS like job numbers, health care costs, school grants, tax policy. Please find me one time Obama talked about the health care act in terms of ideology. Probably would have had an easier passing it in the first if he did.

  52. StanleyPain2

    There was a time when PJ was literally the ONLY person on the Right side of the aisle who was actually 1.) funny and 2.) capable of self-parodying the conservative mentality which is nearly impossible to pull off since humor requires many facets of human emotion most neo-cons do not possess. But, of course, he realized you don't get a paycheck as a right wing author unless you eventually whore out your soul. What a shame.

  53. kevintkeith

    Peggy Noonan, 2004: "Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world." P.J. O'Rourke, 2012: "I don't have a big idea and I don't want one. I don't like big ideas."

    The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

    You know it's an election year again when Republicans come out of the woodwork singing the praises of stupidity.

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