- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2010

THE BIBLE OF UNSPEAKABLE TRUTHS
By Greg Gutfeld
Grand Central Publishing, $24.99, 283 pages

The foreword to “The Bible of Unspeakable Truths” was penned by magician and television personality Penn Jillette. In just less than three pages, he does almost everything one possibly could do to persuade the discerning reader not to bother with this book.

Mr. Jillette confesses that he doesn’t know much about the author, Greg Gutfeld. He has never watched Mr. Gutfeld’s late-night show, “Red Eye,” “except when I’m on it.” He also doesn’t watch Mr. Gutfeld’s cable network, Fox News, because “Fox is ‘conservative,’ and who wants to be ‘conservative’ “? It means “nothing original and no fun,” or “buzzkill” for short. Mr. Jillette instead calls himself “libertarian” so that he can be “proporn” and doesn’t have to listen to Rush Limbaugh for his marching orders.

All of that is just on the first page. Mr. Jillette proceeds to drop the f-bomb a few times; plug his own novel, “Sock”; call Mr. Gutfeld’s comedy “way more amazing and much harder to fake than the virgin birth”; assert the nonexistence of God; and crack, “Hitler believed in god, so if you disagree with me, you, sir, are Hitler.” He admits he hasn’t read the book he’s recommending but says the author will have to, well, pleasure him for writing the foreword.

So “The Bible of Unspeakable Truths” is preceded by what should go down as “The Intro of Unprecedented Awfulness.” It will scare off many readers, but the self-consciously “discerning reader” is not Mr. Gutfeld’s target audience anyway. That’s not a judgment, or, at least, not an insult. After paging through this book, first out of curiosity, then morbidity, then fascination, this critic is convinced it could be a classic.

Genre is all-important here. This is not, thank God, a book of serious political essays. Judged in that light, it is a near fatal belly-flop of a manuscript. I have written one book in defense of hypocrisy, so when I initially read the section titled “Hypocrisy Is a Good Thing,” my response was not unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s plea to an overeager but clumsy friend: “Gutfeld, I beg you not to help me.”

But then I read it again on the can, and the scales fell from my eyes. To explain: There is certain kind of book that is specifically designed for bathroom reading. The entries are short and light and frequently humorous, and the kind of humor can be crude. You’ve seen these volumes on the backs of toilets somewhere, even if you might not openly admit to owning a copy of “Uncle Jasper’s Bathroom Stories.”

Mr. Gutfeld’s genius with his show “Red Eye” was to recognize something that would seem, on its face, insane. He wagered there’s a market in the wee hours of the morning for a show that mixes right-wing talk with absurdist comedy. That bet has paid off with sky-high ratings for the time slot. Similarly, with “The Bible of Unspeakable Truths,” he has wagered that what bathroom books really need is the “Red Eye” in written form.

The book is structured thematically, if loosely. (Exhibit A: One chapter is titled “Society, Culture, and Other Vague Chapter Headings.”) The chapters serve as umbrellas to rope together Mr. Gutfeld’s minirants on such subjects as pets, celebrities, war, race relations and religion and morality. (“Don’t Worry, It’s Short,” the chapter reassures readers.) The rants have such titles as “Mexicans Are Good People - It’s Mexico That Sucks”; “Squirrels Are Just Sexier Rats”; “No One Should Get a Free Pass to Riot, but Some Do”; “Suffering Only Matters When It’s in Fashion”; and “Women Hate Porn Because It’s Competition.”

Read in another setting, Mr. Gutfeld’s musings can seem just plain odd or sophomoric. But on the john, they are transformed into that oddest and rarest of creatures, the perfect right-wing bathroom book. “Oh, great” we can almost hear the liberals complain. “Not even our commodes are safe from this conservative assault.”

Jeremy Lott is an editor for Real Clear Politics and author of “The Warm Bucket Brigade: The Story of the American Vice Presidency” (Thomas Nelson, 2008).