Tuesday, July 17, 2012

America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom

America, You Sexy Bitch:  A Love Letter to Freedom by Michael Ian Black & Meghan McCain
Published by Da Capo Press ISBN 978-0-306-82100-4
Hardcover, $26
Source: copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley

Comedian Michael Ian Black is a forty-something comedian, happily married, father of two and a liberal. Meghan McCain is a twenty-something Senator's daughter, admittedly unlucky at dating and a Republican TV commentator.

They met when McCain was a guest on Black's pilot talk show for the E! network that did not get picked up. One night after he had taken an Ambien, Black and McCain were 'talking'  on Twitter when he suggested that they take a road trip across America to see if the country was as divided as our politicians are, and write a book about it.

McCain said sure, and the experiment was on. Black met McCain in San Diego at his mother's home, where his mom lives with her same sex life partner. McCain took Black to her family's home in Arizona, where Black met her mother and brothers, and they taught him to shoot a gun, which he thought was pretty cool. (Except for the part where Meghan's brother told Michael he was wearing his cowboy hat backwards.)

Then it was on to Vegas, where for some reason they thought it was a good idea to hang out with strippers. (It wasn't.)  Now I've been to Vegas, and there are plenty of opportunities to meet a wide cross section of Americans, and in my mind, they could gotten a lot of interesting opinions about what is right and what is wrong with this country, but that either didn't happen or wasn't exciting to enough to make the book. (Although I did learn that strippers are independent contractors and not employees of the club, which means they get no benefits, like health care, unemployment insurance and the club pays no employment taxes FICA, Social Security on them.)

The trip to New Orleans I found more interesting. They talked with some people about Katrina and how the government mismanaged the aftermath of the storm, how the Ninth Ward is still not back,  and the homes that Brad Pitt and his organization is building. (If you want to read a terrific book about New Orleans, try Nine Lives by Dan Baum.)

They made trips to Branson, where they mostly talked about how Yakov Smirnoff refused to meet with them and how dated and unfunny his show is, and Little Rock, where Bill Clinton has his presidential library and there is apparently no night life. They visited Memphis (Graceland!) and Nashville, and finally Washington DC.

They met Meghan's dad, Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator and perennial presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, both of whom are hard-working and dedicated public servants who respect and like each other.

The book was really more of a travelogue than a book about how Americans feel about our political atmosphere and government. There was too much "this RV smells" and not enough opinions from everyday Americans who don't live in DC or New York.

As a travelogue, it works pretty well, and I'm not sure how Meghan, Michael, Michael's assistant Stephie and their driver Cousin John made it through the trip without someone totally freaking out; I mean, I couldn't make that trip with  people I know and love, let alone strangers. Kudos to them all.

Michael and Meghan take turns telling their story, and we get to know much about their thought process and why they are who they are politically. It is interesting that Michael is a liberal, yet he fits the mold of a stereotypical conservative: married over twenty years, lives in the suburbs, concerned about raising his kids. Meghan is a conservative, but she is young, single, and an advocate for gay marriage and women's rights, all traits you might say fit a stereotypical liberal. Maybe that is why they got along.

America, You Sexy Bitch website is here.

rating 3.5 of 5

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