TheDC Interview: P.J. O’Rourke talks Tea Parties and potheads


After 40 years of pantsing the powerful, “it was time for me to figure out what I was talking about,” satirist P.J. O’Rourke told The Daily Caller during a recent visit. Enter: “Don’t Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards,” O’Rourke’s most serious foray into the world of political philosophy.

That’s right: Serious. “I don’t claim to be the kind of deep thinker that Michael Oakeshott was,” O’Rourke told TheDC. “But I came away from the experience of trying to formulate my political thought with more sympathy for Oakeshott’s crap prose style.”

In addition to dishing on Rolling Stone, parenting, his mailman, his favorite writers and the burden of influence, O’Rourke also shared his thoughts on midterms. You can read those below, and read the rest of the hour-long interview on Thursday.

The Daily Caller: What do you think of Prop 19 in California and marijuana legalization?

P.J. O’Rourke: I find myself torn between my conservatism — I’m a father with children and I don’t want them smoking pot —

TheDC: — ever?

O’Rourke: Well, yeah!

TheDC: Are you just saying that because you’re a dad and you’re on the record?

P.J.: Well, yes, I am saying that because I’m a dad and I’m on the record, but also because I’m a father, and I know that children are plenty stupid enough. They don’t need a drug to help them be more stupid.

On the other hand, here’s a drug that makes teenage boys drive slower. [Laughs] So, I’m torn.

Truly, I think it’s up to the people of California to decide this for themselves. What I want to know is how we’ll be able to tell whether it passed or not. How much more stoned can you get in California?

TheDC: Did you see that dispensary owners are fighting Prop 19?

O’Rourke: I heard that. And so are the pot growers, more quietly. Fortunately, now they’re able to donate huge sums with anonymous protection.

TheDC: Wait — did you say fortunately?

O’Rourke: Yes, I said fortunately. Otherwise, someone might wonder where $10 million came from in Mendocino County. [Laughs]

TheDC: Right, because they have all these vibrant and diverse industries in Mendocino!

O’Rourke: Sandal-making!

TheDC: Things with beads!

O’Rourke: Navajo sand-painting!

TheDC: So, we’re a few days out from the election. Do you have any high hopes? Are you looking to the Tea Parties to save us?

O’Rourke: Well, it would be very satisfying to see Obama and the Democrats get a good drubbing at the polls, but I have two caveats on that. One thing is that I was ready to let these people take the plane for another two years.

TheDC: Because 2012 would be so much worse for Democrats if they were still in charge then?

O’Rourke: Right. I didn’t want to see a repeat of Clinton’s election in 1996. I want this guy to be a one-term president. And I don’t want him to have some Republicans in Congress, or what looks like a bunch of Republicans in Congress, to blame everything on. It would give Obama something to run on much the way it gave Clinton something to run on.

My other problem here is that I don’t know what to believe because I don’t understand where polling organizations get their information now.

TheDC: How do you mean?

O’Rourke: Nobody under the age of 65 uses a landline, everybody’s got caller ID, and who the hell calls back a polling organization?

Who, other than a crazy person, does anything besides hang up on a robo-call? Any call, any person, anywhere, under any circumstances.

If you’re doing this over the Internet, you’re getting into the loony chains almost immediately.

So all polling information, as far as I can figure out, is coming from old people, crazy people, or both.

TheDC: Crazy old people!

O’Rourke: Exactly! Crazy old people are our entire source of polling information. Unless they’re randomly stopping people on the streets. And they’re always saying “likely voters.” What, do likely voters wear a special headband?

TheDC: Does that mean any poll that doesn’t survey “likely voters” is one you should ignore?

O’Rourke: Even then, how do you determine what a likely voter is?

It’s all bullshit. But what kind of bullshit is it? Is it Dem-leaning bullshit? Is it Tea Party-leaning bullshit? I really don’t know. But I would say that the mood of the nation is “Throw the bums out.” But then again, that might just be a reflection of who I hang out with.

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