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Glenn Beck, and something to cry about

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By Al Kamen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 14, 2010; 5:59 PM

Glenn Beck fans are not going to like our colleague Dana Milbank's new book about the tea party favorite, "Tears of a Clown." Little reason they should, since the book is a 257-page skewering.

But for those who don't watch Beck regularly, or have never even seen his Fox News show, the book is a look - albeit sharply negative - at the meteoric rise of someone who's developed a massive following of millions of viewers and devotees. With his show and his best-selling books, Beck, just coming off that huge rally on the Mall, is undeniably one of the most influential people in America today. So attention must be paid.

Milbank concludes that "the fury, the violent talk, the shouting - in short the craziness" on television are "all for show." Indeed, the opening chapter finds Beck in a photo shoot at which the makeup woman is rubbing menthol under his eyes to induce that famous crying.

But surely Beck, despite estimated revenue of around $30 million a year, is a very worried man. "If you paid attention," as songwriter Randy Newman sings, "you'd be worried, too."

And Beck is very worried - in a panic, in fact - about most everything, Milbank writes: Nazis, commies, President Obama, all manner of conspiracies, the collapse of the economy, and especially Woodrow Wilson, president during the progressive era, who left office 90 years ago. Beck blames Wilson for most of today's problems. (Kind of like the way ultra-liberals fixate on the last Whig president, Millard Fillmore.)

Most of all, Beck worries that the end, doomsday, is coming, soon, and it won't be pretty. (Which is why he opposes Obama spending on infrastructure projects. After all, why bother?) His worries about a violent national collapse have even attracted survivalist advertisers on the show. One of them touts a "Survival Seed Bank," in case "the politicians and the bankers . . . bring the whole thing crashing down."

"In an economic meltdown," the commercial says, "non-hybrid seeds could become more valuable than even silver and gold." So, for just $149, plus "$15 for shipping and handling," you'll get the "ultimate barter item," the "perfect mix of germination-tested non-hybrid seeds," enough "to plant a full-acre crisis garden." Best of all, the "indestructible survival seed bank can be buried to avoid confiscation."

Tune in or record the show, which airs weekdays at 5 p.m. on the Fox News Channel. Then maybe you'll be worried, too.

The winners are . . .

Weakly awards!

In the category of creative spelling, the winner is Janet Napolitano's Department of Homeland Security, for this news release: "SECRETARY NAPOLITANO TO MARK NATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT MUESEUM GROUNDBREAKING."

Probably thinking of that European granola variant.

In the stop-the-presses category, the award goes to Carly Fiorina , Republican candidate for Senate in California, for an eye-popping news release headlined "Fresno Deputy Sheriff's Association Endorses Carly Fiorina."


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