By Stephen Colbert. Grand Central Publishing, 230 pp, $29.99, hardcover
Winner of The Stephen T. Colbert Award for Literary Excellence, I Am America (And So Can You!) is perhaps Stephen Colbert's best book. It's certainly his only book.
The problem with Colbert is that with his mongoose stare and unnaturally rigid hair, he can be so persuasive. I know there are times I'm watching The Colbert Report when I start to feel truly sorry for George W. Bush or Condoleezza Rice. They are visionaries willfully misquoted by a liberal media! I see that now!
I Am America is equally hypnotic and hilarious. Its short chapters mash such hot-button topics as immigration (build a wall!), homosexuality ("I'm perfectly fine with someone choosing to be gay, as long as he marries a woman, and has kids like the rest of us"), and religion versus science ("If I may quote myself: reality has a well-known Liberal bias. And who can you depend on to kowtow to reality like it's the only game in town? Scientists. They do it religiously.").
The book (actually written and edited by 13 TCR staffers plus Colbert) is densely ingenious, with endless notes in the margins commenting on such ridiculous zingers as this, describing synchronized swimming: "It's the aquatic equivalent of the Soviet army marching in lockstep through Red Square, if that army were also wearing women's bathing suits and occasionally twirling in unison." Silly photos, fun activities ("Hey, Kids! Now you can disprove evolution in your own backyard!"), wonderfully pointless tables and charts, and even two pages of stickers make this the NPR lover's bathroom book of the year.
But it's more than diverting political satire for one's morning meditation. It's a call to arms. "What I have dictated is nothing less than a Constitution for the Colbert Nation," our peerless leader writes. "And, like our Founding Fathers, I hold my Truths to be self-evident, which is why I did absolutely no research." Colbert makes indolence look easy.