Political BS


The smaller, silent half of Penn & Teller is an expert in deception, a prestidigitator who has achieved iconic status by staying very quiet. Now in its fourth season, the duo's highly lauded Showtime Network show Bullshit! tackles illusion from the other end, tearing into dearly held delusions on issues of gun control, immigration, and the war on drugs. As for his own political leanings, the 59-year-old Teller says, "Liberty is the whole enchilada."

Reason asked Teller to conjure up his three most hated lines of political bullshit.

1. Christianity: "In 496 C.E., Clovis the Frankish king made a deal with God: If Clovis won the battle of Tolbiac, he'd become Catholic. Unfortunately, Clovis won. His conversion led to European Christianity, delaying human progress at least 1,000 years."

2. The Stamp Act: "By 1765 the American colonists already accepted the bullshit idea that it was the proper role of government to tax foreign trade. The British Parliament, thinking it could get away with more, laid the first direct tax on the colonists. The British collected every time the colonists signed a contract or bought a newspaper or even a deck of cards—the latter intended to piss off magicians."

3. The Roosevelt Corollary: "In 1904 Teddy Roosevelt declared that the U.S. could exercise an 'international police power' if it saw 'chronic wrongdoing or impotence' in a foreign government. Those fatally vague words, symptomatic of a new hubris, led straight to hell."