06/16/2008 02:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

It's Safe to Laugh Again!


Glowing words from this past weekend's Firedoglake Book Salon:

So here's a puzzler: How do you write a book about a vicious, evil man like Dick Cheney without turning it into an off-putting, angry rant? Well, I have read the answer, and it is called Young Dick Cheney: Great American (AlterNet Books).

Instead of giving in to their anger and being consumed by the Dark Side, Bruce Kluger and David Slavin, along with illustrator Tim Foley, re-create the style of kid-oriented biographies about the early days of great American heroes, and apply it to one of America's great villains. The result is, not to put too fine a point on it, hilarious.

Liberally illustrated (of course), the book follows Young Dick from his frontier birth as a miniature, fully-formed, growly-voiced plutocrat through his high school years as the powerful vice president of the student council--documenting his life as he discovers his love of war, oil, guns, dark blue suits, power, secrecy, shady political machinations, and Lynne Not-Yet-Cheney.

By way of example, here's a passage describing five-year-old Dick's ecstasy upon receiving an Official Davy Crockett Buckaroo-Boy BB Gun for Christmas:

On Christmas morning, Dick's wish came true. Padding down the stairs in his Wendell Willkie feet-pajamas, Dick looked beneath the tree and let out his biggest and happiest grumble ever.

"Thank you, Santa Claus!" Dick yelled, grabbing the rifle and slinging it over his shoulder, just like a genuine frontiersman. "Look at me!" he shouted. "I'm Davy Crockett! Remember the Alamo!"

Young Dick gave his father a great big hug, then shot his mother in the face.

There's plenty more where that came from. Lots of shooting people in the face, lots of heart attacks, lots of oil--mixed in with sly references to contemporary political characters and events.

The authors honed their skills as political satirists for NPR's All Things Considered, and conducted exhaustive research on children's literature under the clever pretense of being the fathers of young girls--making them uniquely qualified to chair the search committee for an author to write this book. After many months of interviews and Googling, they finally named themselves co-authors, and the rest is... well, something that sort of resembles history, only funnier.

Please join me in welcoming Bruce Kluger and David Slavin to Firedoglake. As always, stay on topic and keep your comments polite and respectful (to the authors, at least - you can say whatever you like about Dick). And if you haven't yet, please do pick up a copy of Young Dick Cheney: Great American, or I'll shoot you in the face. I'll be glad you did.

Written by Eli at Firedoglake. To view the complete transcript of this (hilarious!) Firedoglake Book Salon, click here.