Ask Matt Labash: Special collector’s edition

Friends and enemies, readers and illiterates,

I’m breaking with the regular format of this column to apologize for being away so long while on assignment in Haiti for my home publication, The Weekly Standard. My trip was nominally for an upcoming story. Though I also went to abduct Scientologists, who are thick on the ground, before they can abduct Haitian orphans and make them watch “Battlefield Earth” on the plane ride back to Los Angeles. (Those poor kids have suffered enough.) If you’d like to adopt a Scientologist, please contact me. You will be required to fill out a questionnaire and undergo a rigorous background check. I only place Scientologists in carefully vetted, loving homes.

Also, I’ve had book chores. My brand-spanking-new book, Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures With Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys is officially released today. I’m not going to beg you to buy it. In fact, I’m begging you not to buy it, because I believe in the power of reverse psychology. But I should mention that if you buy it, you will be invited to visit The Daily Caller offices, where you will be permitted to smell S.E. Cupp’s hair (jojoba-enriched) until you creep her out and she has you removed by security.

These book chores I speak of have been taking much time, namely in the form of written Q&A’s. In other words, a lot of outsiders have been “Asking Matt,” as it were, much like you, faithful reader, have been doing since 2010. Therefore, in the interest of sparing myself further work—out of sheer laziness and fatigue—I will now share excerpts from the various publications that have been asking me questions, beneath which I will include the link where you can read the full Q&A. Taken together, this is all the Ask-Matt-Labash you could possibly need, and quite a bit more than you could possibly want. But that’s okay. I’m trying to overload you as it takes me another two weeks or so to work through the arduous Scientologists adoption process.

Rest assured, however, that I’m banking all your questions, so keep them coming. As an ask-me/advice columnist, you never know what question will inspire an answer at any given time. I read every question, so just because yours doesn’t get answered immediately doesn’t mean it isn’t being saved for future use. Your range of questions is truly impressive. Though strangely enough, I’ve yet to field one about sex. Feel free. I don’t fancy myself a sexpert. But I’ve had sex. More than once. With someone other than myself.

And now, the road edition:

In this interview, Esquire’s beautiful and talented Executive Editor, Mark Warren, deceitfully butters me up to create a false sense of security, then viciously and savagely sucker-punches me, attempting to get me fired by repeatedly and senselessly attacking my boss, Bill Kristol. Watch, as I heroically save Kristol’s honor, thus guaranteeing a really fat raise and an extra lavish suite on The Weekly Standard cruise. Along the way, we also discuss Mark’s hatred of the Jews, Dick Cheney’s penis (that was Mark), Osama D’Souza, why New York and Keith Olbermann suck, Marion Barry’s nipples, who needs to be punched in the face, and much, much more.

ESQUIRE: Okay, Matt. You are one of the absolute greatest magazine writers in America. You’ve got this great new book out — Fly Fishing with Darth Vader, which we’ll be talking about. We are big fans here. In fact, you’ve been under assignment at Esquire for, what, six years now? And yet, we’ve not yet gotten that piece. I blame Bill Kristol. Who do you blame? Don’t try to talk. Just blink three times if it’s Kristol. We’ll come down there and kick his ass. That guy deserves it anyway.

MATT LABASH: Sheezus, Mark. Keep sweet-talking me like that, and I might ask you out for an ice cream soda. I’m going to have to make sure Kristol sees this. And I think I get what you’re saying about him. He’s controlling me. I am a member of the media. He’s Jewish. Ergo, the Jews control the media. Can I quote you on that? Or should we move it to background?

Actually, the reason I think I’ve yet to do the big heave for you guys is because New York editors tend to think D.C. guys want to do political stories. And I hate politics for its own sake. Politics are so… I don’t know, political. Which is an odd thing for a guy to say, I suppose, who has worked at a political magazine for 14 years. So please don’t tell anyone.

On that score, Kristol’s alright (for a Jew, as you’re fond of saying). I look at some of the pieces in this collection — a profile of a Christian professional wrestler now fighting on the North Carolina chicken-wire circuit, riding in the back of a limo with a panty-less Nina Hartley — and I’m not quite sure why they ran in The Weekly Standard. They did, though. So who am I to argue?

Read more here.

In this Q&A with the lovely and talented Sonny Bunch, one of the nation’s finest film critics who also blogs at Doublethink’s Conventional Folly, we discuss fly fishing, why “Miller’s Crossing” is the best film ever made, which actress I would most like to fight, masturbating surgeons general, and much, much more.

Sonny Bunch: If you could choose any one American to symbolize America as it stands today, in 2010, who would you choose?

ML: I’d have to go with John McCormack, the Weekly Standard reporter (and my colleague) who was pushed to the ground by Martha Coakley’s thugs. Here’s a lunchbucket guy just trying to do his job, when he gets tripped up by the jackboot of oppression. But what does he do? He got knocked down, yes. But he got up again. Cause you’re never gonna keep him down. He’s like the living embodiment of that Chumbawamba song. Also, he demanded that the twit buy him a new suit. And really, that’s why my great grandfather Labash came over on the boat: to draw the charge, then get a new suit of clothes. So yeah, John McCormack is the guy that to me, symbolizes America. Either him, or Chris Harrison, the host of The Bachelor, who I think just does a magnificent job.

Read more here.

In this Q&A with the lovely and talented Betsy Rothstein, of Mediabistro’s FishwbowlDC, we discuss deer turds, Donald Trump’s hair, fat lips, reporting as psychotherapy, why I no longer speak to Steve Hayes, why Twitter is the devil unless its promoting my work, and much, much more:

Betsy Rothstein: Is journalism like psychotherapy?

ML: ……… Empathy, even when you’re doing a hitpiece, is a grossly underrated reporting tool. If I were teaching a journalism class, I’d tell students to be a human being first, and a journalist second. Because even if you’re a cold bastard, you get better stuff. Respond to people as you would respond to them naturally, not just as a “journalist” would respond. That’s important, since most people think journalists are assholes, which is not without some justification. Most subjects though, at least the ones I often write about, tend to be kind of lonely. Even and especially the famous and quasi-famous. So when you become their friend – in the artificial way journalists and subjects become friends – you’re halfway there. And sometimes you even stay friends after. Most people just want to be understood. And all people like talking about themselves. As I think this interview proves.

Read more here.

In this soul-baring, three-question interview with the Politico’s lovely and talented Anne Schroeder Mullins, we discuss fake books, fishing bathroom breaks, and not very much more (it’s only three questions).

Anne Schroeder Mullins: Did [Dick] Cheney ever react to your piece?

ML: Some of his friends were bent out of shape that I included bits about them dressing in drag as Janet Reno for skits in their overnight fishing camp.

But Cheney, surprisingly, has a good sense of humor, and told me he really liked it on more than one occasion. I had some fundamental philosophical differences with his policies, but we got along well. Enough so, that we’re thinking about forming a ticket in the next presidential, perhaps making a Green Party run.

As his vice president, however, I’m not going to let him repeat the mistakes of the past. If he wants to wage his preemptive wars, you can’t really stop him. But this time, I’m picking the place. It’s going to be somewhere quick and easy and more hospitable to our soldiers. I’m not going to telegraph where, but Majorca might want to sleep with one eye open.

Read more here.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard and the author of Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures With Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys.