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ISSUE 116 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/18/2002

Politics’ funny man: O’Rourke uses humor to lighten political outlook

By Megan Parker
Staff Writer

Friday, October 18, 2002

With a unique sense of wit and humor all his own and at least one joke about many famous personalities, political satirist P.J. O’Rourke, dubbed "funniest writer in America," explained the tenuous relationship between American business and politics.

In a speech given Oct. 16, O’Rourke said "it’s almost a sitcom, the sexual relationship politics and business have." Does a bad date between politics and business lead to a lousy marriage between government and economy, he questioned, or "should business stash its money and hope that the accountants they’ve got are smarter than Arthur Anderson?"

Overall, O’Rourke posited in favor of business and against government. "At least the businessman steals from you directly instead of getting the IRS to do it," he said.

The government promises to make Americans richer, taller, smaller, or better golfers, he said, but "then there are the Republicans that say government doesn’t work; then they get elected and prove it."

With a period of national crisis and the war on terrorism continuing, O’Rourke said, "Now is a time to love our government, not hate it. Plus, we have all these people overseas hating our government."

He also feels President George W. Bush is the right man for the job of leading the United States during current events. "You imagine Al Gore in the White House with Oprah Winfrey as Secretary of Defense," he joked.

On the other hand, O’Rourke feels all participants in free markets are suffering. "Any type of crisis tends to turn the public against free markets," he said.

Additionally, he noted the expansion of government regulations during times of crisis and that "when the crisis goes away the expanded government powers do not go away." These powers also infringe on the rights of the citizens and on the economy, according to O’Rourke. "Times of national crisis curtail civic and national rights. There is no ACLU for your wallet," he said.

Because of the current political state, O’Rourke urged less government spending, but thinks Bush is the wrong man to accomplish this task. "Did I think Bush would cut government spending? What was I smoking in the voting booth?" he joked.

"Republicans as well as Democrats continue to push for non-means tested government programs," he said, and added that he is disgusted with the Farm Bill.

He also feels tax dollars should support fewer services and that those services be administered based on need. "I am too rich to get Medicare and they should tell me so," he said.

In another area of excess, O’Rourke discussed the boom of the last decade, saying there was "a diarrhea of money moving around in the 1990s," andthat "a lot of Americans think we should do something to tame these wild excesses of capitalism."

In terms of the economic gap in the United States, O’Rourke feels that in a country with so many rights, there are no losers when somebody gets rich. He stated that politicians incorrectly think that Americans with problems are victims of economic injustice.

He also thinks economic and political systems send contradictory messages: economics tells us we must get rich while politics tell us some will be rich while others are poor.

O’Rourke said that people become upset when others are richer than they are and that people often fear the rich. However, he believes in going out and getting one’s own instead of envying one’s neighbor’s money or property.

Furthermore, once people are rich, they don’t want to fight anymore, he said. "In this time of crisis, we should aim to make everyone as fat, happy, and socially over-scheduled as we are," he said.

O’Rourke has written for such diverse publications as Automobile, New York Times Book Review, and regularly contributes to Rolling Stone and Atlantic Monthly. He is the author of several books, including "Parliament of Whores," "CEO of the Sofa," and "Eat the Rich."

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