If you've spent the last several weeks, as I have, watching candidates for state and national office deny sorcery, explain away a background in professional wrestling, debate the appropriate use of the word "whore" in a campaign, or remind the voting public that the rent is, in fact, too damn high, then you don't need me to tell you about the American freak show. Like a black-and-white scene from "Night of the Living Dead," the freaks have us surrounded.
After watching from my front row seat on "Morning Joe" the endless parade of Blagos, Balloon Boys, Snookis, and Salahis, I felt compelled to assemble our new political and pop cultural superheroes in a single book -- a Hall of Justice for freaks, if you will. The characters in "American Freak Show" are all real; their stories are made-up (although just barely). The challenge, of course, was to parody a group of people who had done such an exceptional job of it themselves.
One of the early inspirations for the book came when a disgraced, bushy-haired former governor named "Rocket" Rod Blagojevich burst into our studio for an interview to promote his book. The bounce in his step showed that Blago was the only one who didn't know he'd been disgraced. To Blago's way of thinking, impeachment and public humiliation weren't things to be ashamed of -- they merely provided a turning of the page to Act II of his new celebrity life. A new American freak had been born before our eyes.