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When Jesus Christ turns up in West Zenith, Mass., Catholics, Jews and atheists unite to help him realize his plan of becoming America's next president in this hilarious novel from Merullo (Breakfast with Buddha). Chief adviser to the "Jesus for America" campaign is Russ Thomas, a cynical TV journalist who sets out to convince the American public that Jesus is the real deal. Jesus' chances of being elected seem slim as he faces skepticism from both ends of the political spectrum over his platform of "kindness and goodness" and the fact that he names his mother as his running mate. But as Jesus hits the campaign trail, Russ and his team begin to have faith in their candidate, themselves and humanity. Most enjoyable are the takedowns of thinly veiled political journalists: there's loud-mouthed, insult-spewing Anne Canter and Bulf Spritzer, "a decent guy [who] can never quite convince the viewer that he isn't ecstatic about being in the limelight." The result is, for the most part, an uproarious satire, hampered only by Merullo's occasional slips into the preachiness about morality that he so harshly mocks. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.