If you can get through one of the most irritating and politically clueless intros you'll read all month, this Vanity Fair interview with the reliably interesting political commentator Penn Jillette (with the eyeball-catching headline of "Penn Jillette Is Willing to Be a Guest on Adolf Hitler's Talk Show") is well worth a read. Excerpt:
Your intentions seem genuine, but I can't help myself, Penn. Every time I hear you've been on Glenn Beck, it makes me a little sick.
It makes me sick too! When people come up to me and say they love the show, I feel sick. Because I do disagree with a lot of what he says. But I also feel a little sick whenever people say they saw me on Keith Olbermann.
And yet you continue to do it. You know, there's an easy way to stop making yourself sick.
But I think it's important. I may be the only person who goes on Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck and says the exact same shit. I am so much more socially liberal than Olbermann will ever be. You can't believe how pro gay and pro freedom of speech I am. I'm way out beyond anyone on the Left. And as for fiscal conservatism and small government, I'm so much further to the right than Glenn Beck. Nobody is further left and further right than me. As I'm fond of saying, if you want to find utopia, take a sharp right on money and a sharp left on sex and it's straight ahead.
You defended the Tea Party during a segment on Larry King not long ago, but you also said you don't agree with them on a lot of things. What things would that be?
Pretty much everything. (Laughs.) My only point was, when you're arguing with someone, you shouldn't pretend to know what's going on in their heart. To say that the only reason the Tea Party is against the president is because they're racist, I think that's unfair. We know what racist people look like. They don't deny it. They just don't!
Well, some of them do.
There are racist organizations throughout the entire world, including the Dalai Lama, and they absolutely state it outright. "Our guys with our colored skin are absolutely better than your guys with your colored skin." If the Tea Party isn't publicly stating "We think people of other races should be treated differently," then you don't get to call them racist.
I think you kind of do though, especially when there are Tea Party protestors carrying signs that read "Obama. What You Talking 'Bout Willis?" Isn't that at least a teeny bit racist?
Yeah, but if you know a Beatles fan who rapes somebody, that doesn't mean all Beatles fans are rapists. [...]
There really is a line-in-the-sand political mentality these days, isn't there? You choose a side and you stick to it.
Absolutely there is. When I disagree with Obama, people always say, "Well, you're a big Bush guy then." And I'm like no, I didn't like Bush either. I disagree with Bush and Obama on all the stuff they agree on, which is pretty much everything. They both want to kill people, they both want the government to be bigger, and they both want less freedom for individuals.