Meghan McCain Weighs in On Kim Kardashian Sex Tape in New Politics Book 'America, You Sexy Bitch'

Book Review Grade: B- / B

In America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom, an odd and unlikely twosome of Michael Ian Black, a popular stand-up comic, and Meghan McCain, Sen. John McCain’s controversial daughter, take readers on a month-long journey across the U.S. to explore their beloved country and its diverse people, seeing firsthand all the sometimes strange yet always fun and fascinating quirks that make America America.

Every day on their road trip (the kind I feel fewer and fewer Americans desire to make these days), they learn and experience something not just new, but uniquely all-American — usually through hangovers and sleep deprivation. Some examples include firing guns in an Arizona desert, touring the LDS Temple Square in Salt Lake City, visiting The Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigain, feeding marshmallows to ‘gators in the Bayou … oh, and getting “upside down pussy” from strippers in Vegas. To pass the time between all their cultural excursions, they fight like brother and sister over every hot-button issue: from the War on Terror and the Second Amendment, to faith (or lack thereof) and Obamacare, to Black’s hipsterism and McCain’s spoiled-rich-girl-ism — and back. Cooler heads usually prevail, thanks in part to all the nightlife they are lucky to sample (in most of the cities they went to, anyway; apparently there’s nothing to do at night in Little Rock, apart from going to the Waffle House or watching pimps and hookers in the ghetto). If it weren’t for the jazz, the strippers, the weed, the booze, and the general hilarity of all they encounter, McCain would’ve thrown in the towel a long time ago (heck, I would’ve stopped reading after 30 pages); Black’s snarky liberalism is a little too much for her at times. In the end, the two learn not only about their country, but about each other; they learn to accept each other as “Americans,” and that friendship and understanding shouldn’t have to stop where people’s differing values, faith, and politics start.

Among the book’s main draws (like its ridiculous title) is the fact that Black and McCain are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum; the former is presented as a Democrat, while the latter is a Republican — that is, if you believe what you read in this book, never mind what her über-conservative naysayers claim (she calls herself a “progressive Republican”: fiscally conservative, socially liberal). They’re truly dichotomous; unlike McCain, who is a proud Republican, Black by his own admission essentially concedes his allegiance to the Democrats for lack of better options.

“I think of it like this,” Black writes, “Pizza Hut makes a better pizza than Domino’s, but they’re both pretty shitty pizzas.”

This alludes to a crucial point that is recurrently expounded throughout the book, one that sheds light upon a peculiarity amongst many liberals that Democrats in particular really need to address: hippies, hipsters, tree-huggers, Commies, freaks, geeks, and otherwise non-Republicans don’t automatically side with Democrats — even just to stand against Republicans. Black reminds us of that. Unlike people who can’t stand Democrats, especially conservatives who urgently fall in line under one disciplined party and support one another unapologetically, liberals seem significantly more fickle and complacent when it comes to solidifying behind Democratic lines — something that could cost them and their president in November.

Speaking of Black and his thought-provoking remarks, he is the star of this book without question; his were the most interesting segments. He’s a comedian, and so he knows how to make you laugh; and yet, through his humor, he was able to convincingly communicate his liberal rationale with ease. The problem, however, is his juxtaposition with McCain, who is not a comedian. (Honestly, one of my laments early on was that Black, next to McCain, was making my generation look bad). Don’t get me wrong; it’s good that this book juxtaposes a liberal and a conservative. The problem is that one is simply not as entertaining or thought-provoking as the other. After a while, I had to stop myself from skimming through McCain’s segments to get to what Black had to say; to put it bluntly, half the book wasn’t that great.

If there’s anything great about McCain’s presence, it’s not her comparative humorlessness. It’s not her unexciting and sometimes dense prose. It’s not the way she repetitiously defends her beloved party or her storied family. It’s not the way she dwells on opinions typical of a rich, gen-Y Republican. What I do respect about her presence is that you observe her at a much more personal level than most people — especially her detractors — are probably used to. She’s a normal girl; I’ve met plenty of Republican kids just like her. I easily empathized with her: she’ll smoke weed, she’ll party with strippers, and she’ll get hammered; she’ll question her beliefs; she’ll get moody and insecure around people who talk over her with opposing views — just like everyone else. Under the spotlight, you’re deified, demonized, or forgotten (lots of times, it’s a sad cycle of all three); people are always dehumanized when they become public figures, and Meghan McCain, right or wrong, is no different. This book is an opportunity to see who she is, not only through her own words, but through the honest and fair perspective of her month-long companion — and it’s a pretty enriching experience. 

Does McCain say anything unique? It’s a $26 book; do McCain’s contributions to the memoir amount to the $13 she technically commands? Honestly, I would’ve much rather read about a road trip with Bill Maher and Ann Coulter; it would’ve been much more fun to see those two squabble, or to see how the latter would fair getting “upside down pussy” in Vegas. But overall, it’s a meaningful effort; it makes for more than a few great laughs, presents some interesting thoughts about politics and culture, and inspires me to make a trip like this one day.

Whatever I do, I am definitely stopping by the Palomino in Vegas.

Excerpts from America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom

Meghan McCain: Arguably the biggest celebrity on the planet, Kim Kardashian, got her start essentially releasing a sex tape with Ray J. Right now she is a multimedia mogul, with a hugely popular television show, different types of clothing, perfume, and endorsement brands, and is frequently on the cover of most weekly magazines. So on the one hand, as a culture we celebrate celebrity figures, even if they have compromised themselves to the point where they have a sex tape available for viewing on the internet, and on the opposite hand, the debate over whether or not women should have access to birth control is still part of the national dialogue. Why is there no middle ground between virgin and sex tape? 

Michael Ian Black: This is one thing I am quickly learning about Republicans: they are afraid. Democrats are afraid too, I think, but it's different. Democrats are afraid for the future. Republicans are frightened for the future also, but they are equally or more terrified of the RIGHT NOW! In the Republican worldview, menace lurks around every corner. Whether it's zombies coming to eat our brains or robbers or rapists or immigrants or liberal politicians, they believe there is a nightmare army of evildoers out there whose only objective in life is to take what's theirs. That's why they are “conservatives.” They want to conserve their shit from the bad guys. What's the most effective way to do that? Guns.

After reading America You Sexy Bitch, and hearing Black’s perspective, I am left with a lingering question: Why do you think liberals are hesitant to call themselves Democrats, especially if it's a sensible method of thwarting Republican policy and control? What do you think?