Republican like Me: Infiltrating Red-State, White-Ass, and Blue-Suit America

Overview

When the red states trumped the blue states in the 2004 presidential election, many Democrats were left wondering just what makes the conservative mindset tick. Wonder no more. Join self-described "infiltration journalist" Harmon Leon as he goes undercover to explore what being conservative really means.
A flaming liberal in real life, Leon has been called "a cross between Michael Moore and South Park." He shares with readers his hilarious misadventures as he dons the persona of...
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Republican Like Me: Infiltrating Red-State, White-Ass, and Blue-Suit America

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Overview

When the red states trumped the blue states in the 2004 presidential election, many Democrats were left wondering just what makes the conservative mindset tick. Wonder no more. Join self-described "infiltration journalist" Harmon Leon as he goes undercover to explore what being conservative really means.
A flaming liberal in real life, Leon has been called "a cross between Michael Moore and South Park." He shares with readers his hilarious misadventures as he dons the persona of a "pissed-off convenience store clerk" at the Knob Creek Biannual Machine Gun Shoot in Bullit County, Kentucky. Next, he’s working security in southern California at an "Arnold for Governor" rally, where he has several memorable encounters with the Terminator himself — and finds himself constantly promoted!
But this is only the beginning. Leon reports on his zany experience at a Christian wrestling extravaganza, where the scantily clad wrestlers toss opponents into the stands in the name of Jesus. Taking a different tack, he paints on temporary tattoos, wears a black T-shirt reading "Kill ‘em all. Let God sort ‘em out!" and then entertainingly describes the reactions he gets when he tries to purchase a condominium in an exclusive gated community.
Uncertain about whether his inspiration is Jane Goodall or journalist John Howard Griffin, author of the 1950s’ classic Black Like Me, Leon nonetheless perseveres from one adventure to the next, hoping not to be found out and get his head broken. Leon’s daring anthropological romps into finding out how the other half lives are by turns outrageous, disturbing, and hilarious, yet always illuminating. Don’t be surprised to find yourself laughing out loud as you turn each page!
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Whether running through a mock jungle firing an Uzi in Kentucky or enjoying a reasonably priced meal at Applebee's with white supremacists, author, agitator, flaming liberal and first-class playa-hater Harmon Leon is willing to go to great lengths to understand the psyche of right-wing conservatives. In his new book, Republican Like Me, Leon goes undercover as a conservative…The result is one of the funniest and most insightful books ever written, worming into the belly of the Bible-thumping beast and beating the enemy on its own turf. Republican Like Me raises the bar for political humor, turning journalism into a contact sport. There are no pundits or rhetoric-spewing talking heads—just Leon vs. the bad guys in no-holds-barred death match at the juncture of political activism and absurdist theater."
- Boulder Weekly
"Funny as hell."
- Howard Stern

"Harmon Leon is a free radical, a random element that infiltrates a situation to introduce chaos, mayhem and hilarity ... Republican like Me turns the tables on red state rednecks who paint lefties as exotic and un-American. With each incursion into such conservative bastions as the Republican Party and racist hate groups, brazen liberal Leon exposes the right for the weirdos they are. And he still has time left over to make fun of Democrats! A tour-de-force of political satire. "
- Ted Rall, editorial cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate

Boulder Weekly
"Whether running through a mock jungle firing an Uzi in Kentucky or enjoying a reasonably priced meal at Applebee's with white supremacists, author, agitator, flaming liberal and first-class playa-hater Harmon Leon is willing to go to great lengths to understand the psyche of right-wing conservatives. In his new book, Republican Like Me, Leon goes undercover as a conservative..The result is one of the funniest and most insightful books ever written, worming into the belly of the Bible-thumping beast and beating the enemy on its own turf. Republican Like Me raises the bar for political humor, turning journalism into a contact sport. There are no pundits or rhetoric-spewing talking heads-just Leon vs. the bad guys in no-holds-barred death match at the juncture of political activism and absurdist theater."
November 3-10, 2005
Creative Loafing
"In the world of neoconservative pirouette PR, every day but Fitzmas (blogspeak for the day Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald announced the indictment of "Scooter" Libby in conjunction with the CIA leak case) can seem like Opposite Day. Bush is a "most brilliant man," "Brownie" was doing a heckuva job, and the mission in Iraq is accomplished and going well. And yet a slimming but substantial subset of credulous Americans still smile and nod and even applaud through it all. Who are these people?San Francisco journalist (by which, of course, I mean "Blue State anti-American terrorist sympathizer") Harmon Leon decided to find out by infiltrating the right in Republican Like Me: Infiltrating Red-State, White-Ass and Blue-Suit America. The title is an allusion to John Howard Griffin's controversial Black Like Me, an account of the white journalist's 1959 journey through the Deep South, disguised as a black man....Whether meeting with white supremacist recruiters at an Applebee's, gleefully shouting signature Terminator lines while volunteering for Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign, or posing as a gay Christian who wants to give up his sinful lifestyle (the gay part), Leon is about as bipartisan as Bush, but a whole hell of a lot funnier. In an age of absurdity fit to make Aristophanes shoot milk through his nose, a trickster like Leon is a welcome reflection of our ridiculous reality."
Atlanta November 2, 2005
The Yes Men
"Read this book immediately. Then eat it. If they do take over, no evidence will remain linking you to it."
BookSense 76
"Harmon Leon makes David Sedaris read like George Will - he's that funny."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591023609
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.47 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Harmon Leon (San Francisco, CA) is an award-winning journalist who has appeared on The Howard Stern Show, Penn and Teller: Bullshit!, and The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, Cosmopolitan, Maxim, Details, E!, NPR’s This American Life, Spin, Wired, The Guardian, and more. His first book, The Harmon Chronicles, won a 2003 Independent Publishers Award for humor. Leon is also a stand-up comedian.
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2006

    Funny, but not seriously

    Harmon Leon is a funny guy. He plays clever pranks on people who fall right into his traps. That's funny. The problem is, he's not satisfied with just being funny. He wants you to believe that his funniness adds up to something, that it somehow increases our understanding of the political reality in America by exposing how utterly ridiculous one half of that political reality is. He fails in this. As any 14-year old can tell you, the success of a prank rests on the element of surprise, not necessarily on the intelligence of the victim (much less his political orientation). Essentially, it's an ambush. Leon wanders around, mostly in the East Bay, looking for people to ambush. Since most of the people he ambushes are preoccupied with such neo-fascist activities as ordering pancakes from the local Denny's, they aren't exactly on their guard. Predictably, they don't realize that he's making fun of them until it's too late. Reading political lessons into this charade is about as useful as reading them into an episode of Candid Camera. As one earlier reviewer pointed out, the result of all of this is simply that Leon confirms all of his prejudices about Republicans. He doesn't actually get to know any of them -- just ambushes them and laughs at them for not expecting the attack. That's because they're dumb, you see. And Republican. Republican like me is silly pranksterism masquerading as serious political comment. This is strictly for people who already agree with Leon and would prefer not to be challenged in any way. If you hate Republicans and like to feel superior to them, this is the book for you. If, on the other hand, your hate is only directed at the polarized, slapstick nonsense that passes for political debate in this country, you'd be better off taking a pass. Not recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2005

    Republican like Me: Infiltrating Red-State, White-Ass, and Blue-Suit America

    Harmon Leon's shtick is aping certain personalities¿usually ones far flung from his urban, liberal, hipster real self¿and 'infiltrates' the other cultures of America. He volunteers for security detail during the Arnold Schwarzenegger gubernatorial race. He meets up with a white supremacist group in northern California as an eager recruit. And he sends his sophisticated San Franciscan girlfriend to try out for the Raiders cheerleaders. He is a devious chameleon. Republican Like Me falls at the nexus between Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd and Michael Moore's documentaries, simultaneously providing insight and mockery of America's conservative organizations and groups. Perhaps the strongest section in this collection is 'Bad Jobs That Involve Wearing Costumes,' where Leon takes on a variety of minimum wage jobs¿from working as a 'scary clown' at a haunted house to playing the elephant mascot for the Modesto Nuts, a California minor league baseball team. The point? These are the jobs that the Republican leadership is leaving Americans. The most poignant job is when Leon dresses up as an Uncle Sam for a fledging tax accounting firm. Eventually, Leon puts down his sign and hands off his costume to a homeless man. The humor in this piece cuts on so many levels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2005

    Republican like Me: Infiltrating Red-State, White-Ass, and Blue-Suit America

    'We're now a ragamuffin bunch, kind of like a moronic crime-fighting team from another dimension or world of tomorrow, set upon this earth to rid America of those pesky illegal aliens with their funny music and crazy hats.' ( Leon infiltrating the Federation for American Immigrant reform) Read 'Republican Like Me' and enter the world of Harmon Leon, as Alice entered through the looking-glass, to examine the otherworldly dimension of American Republicans and even more extreme conservatives from the inside. Guided by a loudly pronounced bias and a hungry eye for absurd details, liberal Leon skillfully dons characters who will blend into or completely contrast the conservative platforms he infiltrates, covering a bold range from hate-groups through corporate etiquette workshops, Christian support groups for ex-gays, abortion clinic protesters to the Republican party itself. This socio-political odyssey is ingeniously penned with much passion and satirical observations in a intimate and honest voice, allowing the reader to glide through the sometimes breathtaking and hilarious moments as if he/she were a screw in Leon's ever-present tape recorder. Leon 's purpose is not only to visit and observe occupants of the less liberal side, but also to mirror their ideology by confronting them with the grotesque stereotypes he mercilessly portrays. Despite his bias, Leon sincerely struggles to catch the essence of each conservative bastion he gleefully targets, always making room for surprising discoveries, anxiety or self-doubt. 'Though the activity of 'strolling' is stressed as a new urbanism selling point, there is a large void of 'strollers' around the designated central square magnet for strolling. [...] Thus, if appointed emperor of Timberline Village (besides going 'mad with power'), I'd hire actors to portray elderly but wise citizens, who would always be on hand to fix a kite or give wise, elderly advice from a park bench...' ( Leon posing as conservative prospective house buyer in new suburban residential complex) In 'Republican Like Me', (chame)Leon bravely straddles his self-engineered bumpy, unpredictable and highly unscientific anthropological roller-coaster ride, never blind to occasional moments of universal truth that are sparked by his unlikely presence in wholly absurd situations. 'Being a scary clown is lonely. Between groups I stand alone in my clown box, reflecting on moments of my life that have led up to this point.' ( Leon fighting unemployment by taking humiliating costumed jobs) Pick up this comical treasure with much essence and no political correctness, and experience a virtual tour through a conservative landscape armed with nothing but love of life and biting cynicism. Time has come for Alice to grow up and smash the looking-glass may she not break her hand in the process.

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