Common Nonsense is an impressive feat, especially when considering that Zaitchik hardly had the extensive resources that, say, Al Franken had assisting his skewering of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. But there is some imbalance. While Zaitchik mostly reads between the lines of Beck's utterances, he hangs on his subject's literal claims when they support his arguments (for example: Zaitchik cites a passage from Beck's book The Real America to show that wealth is the man's chief motivation). But that's an inevitable obstacle in interpreting a seemingly bipolar thespian fabulist. When you're profiling someone deranged enough to claim that his mother committed suicide when reported evidence suggests that she died an accidental death, it's sometimes impossible to gauge just how much shit he's full of.

For anyone who infrequently views The Daily Show or Fox News, Beck might still be little more than the dot on a hysterical far-right exclamation point. That may soon change, though, as he has planned for this coming August 28 a widely publicized (and already lambasted) landmark address at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. That date — the same one on which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 — could seem like a strange choice for a cocaine-white talk-show host whose role model, W. Cleon Skousen, "characterized African American children as 'pickaninnies' and described U.S. slave owners as the 'worst victims' of the slavery system." But when you factor in just how revered Beck is in white-supremacist circles, it actually makes perfect sense. Just remember: when your cousin asks you to join him and his fellow Tea Partiers in caravanning to cheer on Beck's "I Have a Dream" scream, be sure to tell him about my dream, in which Fox News viewers are civilized enough to consider the revelations in Zaitchik's far-reaching exposé.

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