Interview: P.J. O'Rourke

By PETER KADZIS  |  June 17, 2009

The government probably was no help here. The government put in a pay freeze at all the heavy-industry corporations in World War II. Which meant that the corporations, in order to attract the workers that we had to have to build our planes and tanks and Jeeps, had to provide benefit packages. That's where health care comes from. It didn't exist before World War II. So you wound up with these benefit packages. And then there are the demographic accidents to factor in. The guys that built the cars were all supposed to drop dead at 67, and their wives were supposed to live to be maybe 72. Now everyone lives to 110. [Laughter.] There's plenty of blame to go around.

Is it un-American to buy foreign cars?
No. About half the stuff that's in your [American] car is foreign-made — whether you know it or not. And the foreign car you buy may well be made in Mississippi.

What's the scariest place you've ever driven?
India wins hands down. About 10 years ago, I drove the Grand Trunk Road from Islamabad to Calcutta — the same road that is featured in Kipling's Kim — and the same elephants and camels are still on it, plus a lot of other things. It was absolutely terrifying.

Does the car a man — or a boy — drives define him sexually?
Not any more. I was driving home from the airport the other day and somebody blew me off, cut me off, and screeched away. I was a little ticked. I didn't quite rise to road rage — it was more like road irk. I caught up with him at the next stoplight. I looked over and it was this young, obviously macho guy — bunch of ink, and a lot of product in the hair — driving a Subaru Forester. Now the first thing, I was pretty embarrassed that my big old Detroit iron got blown off by a Subaru Forester in the first place. [Laughter] Second place, just a very few years ago, I think that this guy probably would have been caught dead wearing ladies' underwear before he'd ever be caught driving a Forester.

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