The Daily Show has been getting a lot of attention lately. Its host, Jon Stewart, figuratively bitchslapped Tucker Carlson (who is, in many ways, a good guy) and Paul Begala on Crossfire, hosted presidential candidate John Kerry, and was found to have an audience better educated and better informed (on the average) than, for instance, fans of Bill O’Reilly’s daily bludgeoning and blustering.
America the Book: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction made waves when it first hit the shelves, because of its depiction of “nude” Supreme Court Justices, enough of a moral outrage for Wal-Mart to strip it from the shelves to make room for more Julie Garwood novels. The entire book is full of such outrageous gems, which is what makes it so delightful to read.
Like The Daily Show, this book contains little in the way of cogent information. It’s largely hilarious plays on words, biting satire, naughty bits, and so many tangential, colored boxes (a lá a real textbook), you’ll find yourself wondering what you should be reading at any given time. The book conjured about strong associations with Dave Barry’s Dave Barry Slept Here and Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway. Though Stewart is known to be somewhat liberal, as is his typical audience, the book jerks noticeably left only once. It’s largely a lampoon of the governmental process, not that of a particular party.
Here’s a sample of the sort of marvelous prose that occurs throughout the book.
If the president is the head of the American body politics, Congress is its gastrointestinal tract. Its vast and convoluted inner workings may be mysterious and unpleasant, but in the end they excrete a great deal of material whose successful passage is crucial to our nation’s survival. This is Congress’s duty.
Ann Coulter didn’t like it, but that’s about par for the course. She’s too dense to appreciate all the irony, punning, and hell, even the funny pictures. That, in essence, is the key to approaching this book. Conservative or liberal: if you have a sense of humor, you should be able to find it in America the Book.