Who’s really killing the American automobile industry? According to conservative satirist P.J. O’Rourke, it’s neither the auto executives nor the unions — it’s the Fun- Suckers. “You know the Fun-Suckers,” he writes in his new book, Driving Like Crazy: Thirty Years of Vehicular Hell- bending, Celebrating America the Way It’s Supposed to Be ? With an Oil Well in Every Backyard, a Cadillac Escalade in Every Carport, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Mowing Our Lawn. “The Fun-Suckers go around saying how unsafe this fun thing is and how unfair, unjust, uncaring, insensitive, divisive, contagious, and fattening every other thing that’s fun is.”
But the Fun-Suckers haven’t dampened his spirits, and in Driving Like Crazy, O’Rourke assembles a collection of classic pieces that chronicle his more than thirty year love affair with the American car — which began with his childhood as the grandson of a Toledo Buick dealer, and is danger of ending as the government bails out the auto industry and places ever-more-strident restrictions on emissions.
Some of the many laughs in Driving Like Crazy: “Pity the poor American car when congress and the White House get through with it — a light-weight vehicle with a small carbon footprint, using alternative energy and renewable resources to operate in a sustainable way. When I was a kid we called it a Schwinn.”
“Cars fulfilled the ideal of American’s founding fathers. Of all the truths we hold self-evident, of all the unalienable rights with which we’re endowed, what’s most important to the American Dream? Freedom to leave!”
“There was no pre-marital sex in America before the invention of the internal combustion engine. You couldn’t sneak a girl into the rec room of your house because your mom and dad were unable to commute so they were home all day working on the farm. And your farm house didn’t have a rec room because recreation had not been discovered due to all the farm work.”
“Cars caused America to be paved. There are much worse things you can do to a country than pave it, as the Sudanese are proving in Darfur.”
“The car provided Americans with an enviable standard of living. You could not get a steady job with high wages and health and retirement benefits working on the General Livestock Corporation assembly line putting udders on cows.”
“The American car was a source of intellectual stimulation. Think of the innovation, the invention, the sheer genius that transformed the 1908 Model T Ford into the 1968 Shelby Cobra GT-500 in the course of a single human lifetime full of speeding tickets.”
“My personal theory on the visceral appeal of the Jeep is that it is purposeful-looking while having no clear purpose. The Jeep is inadequate as a pickup, drafty as a sedan, over-sized as an ATV, and lacks sufficient cargo space to be an SUV. True, Jeeps will go almost everyplace, but, if you think about it, Jeeps mostly go everyplace there’s no reason to go. Thus the Jeep is very cool.”
“Young lads of good courage, lasses brave at heart, spit upon the hand that offers you the keys to the Prius. Freedom will dawn again.”
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