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85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars belly laughs and common sense
(...)
Among the current crop of humorists, P. J. O'Rourke is one of the very best. Though it must be acknowledged that he's operating in a target rich environment, his stories of government stupidity, overreach, waste, and arrogance are truly funny. He's pretty much a libertarian, though made uncomfortable by many of the social behaviors that it would allow and...
Published on November 4, 2001 by Orrin C. Judd

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC of libertarian bile, circa 1991 revision -- makes THIS TOWN look tame & gossipy
For a progressive/independent, this was tough going -- but I laughed my head off at several points. P.J. O'Rourke's reputation for curmudgeonly writing has only grown since this was written in the 70s, revised 1991. His segment on why we should throw out farm subsidies -- indeed most social payments, which he classifies entirely as subsidies -- is hilarious and I agree...
Published 13 months ago by Grace Fortiter


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85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars belly laughs and common sense, November 4, 2001
(...)
Among the current crop of humorists, P. J. O'Rourke is one of the very best. Though it must be acknowledged that he's operating in a target rich environment, his stories of government stupidity, overreach, waste, and arrogance are truly funny. He's pretty much a libertarian, though made uncomfortable by many of the social behaviors that it would allow and overly enamored of the armed forces, so he's just as likely to light out after stupid Republican ideas as he is to castigate Democrats. Parliament of Whores finds him in the perfect position to flail both, as he follows George Bush the elder to Washington in 1989, and sets out to examine the entire U. S. government.
Unsuspecting readers may assume that O'Rourke is just going to snidely lambaste bureaucrats, politicians, institutions, and government generally, but that assumption really underestimates him. He's after much bigger game, as he reveals in the title of the book :
Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.
The various government employees and elected officials actually come out looking pretty good. As portrayed by O'Rourke, they seem for the most part to be genuinely dedicated to their work and trying to do the best they can. It is the American people who come out of this looking pretty awful. Time and again, as he shows how useless, wasteful, and outrageously expensive the myriad government programs are, O'Rourke also makes it clear that they exist, and exist at such bloated sizes, because they have constituencies. And those constituencies are not the easily caricatured and vilified underclass, they are more often the regular work-a-day middle classes. You don't end up with a government as elephantine as ours unless those folks, we folks, in the broad middle have a huge appetite for government services.
In what I think is the best chapter in the book, "Protectors of a Blameless Citizenry," O'Rourke tracks a terrific example of this : the demand for government investigation of sudden-acceleration incidents (SAIs). If you recall the hysteria, this was the allegation that some vehicles, when you were just parked innocently in your garage, would suddenly lurch forward into a garage wall. Any objective observer could have taken one look at these SAIs and figured out that they were merely episodes where people shifted into Drive without their foot on the brake, or stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake. But to draw such a conclusion would have meant blaming people, blaming taxpayers, blaming voters, for their own carelessness and stupidity, and that would be intolerable. Instead, it has become the particular duty of government to absolve us of blame for such manifestations of our own ineptitude, recklessness, and stupidity.
P.J. O'Rourke is a national treasure, if for no other reason than this willingness to hold us all up to well deserved ridicule. The troubling question that he raises in this book, one which Alexis de Tocqueville made in rather more measured tones in Democracy in America, is whether democracy is ultimately doomed by this very phenomenon, of the citizenry trying to avoid responsibility for their own lives. Once the people in a democracy realize that they can simply blame others for all of the problems in their lives, even those of their own making, the democracy is morally doomed. And worse, as Alexander Tytler said some 200 years ago, in a quote that O'Rourke cites :
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of
voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse out of the
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars O'Rourke at his best, February 9, 2002
This clever, biting satire brings laughs to anyone who is both optimistic and cynical about our government. O'Rourke's take on why we get the government we deserve, and what we get in return is sharply insightful and so very funny that readers can forget (at least for a moment) to be sad because the joke is on us.
His budget proposal, from his cuts on bloated agencies to his final cut, the "circumcision" one, is both hilarious and a good, hard look at the way the American federal government throws money around and, often, away.
But it's not their fault, O'Rourke wryly observes. We ask them to do this TO us in the name of doing things FOR us. Or, perhaps, do it to the other guy so they can do something for me. The best idea might simply be to take some of the money off the table and not let them have so much to spend or waste.
Conservatives will love O'Rourke's condemnations and even the most liberal will have to concede many of his points. He's like Peggy Noonan on acid and, for all we know, he just might be. O'Rourke knows how to live on the wild, not just to comment on the other side.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Screamingly funny..., September 11, 2000
For those of us who came up through the universities in the
Eighties, P. J. O'Rourke (in his conservative incarnation) was a
hurricane of fresh air. After years of finger-wagging about how evil
America is, how the middle-class straight white male taxpayer is the
root of all evil, his satires horse-laughed all that liberal
self-righteousness right out of our systems.
All his books follow
the same convention--he collects his previously published essays of
observational humor, and writes linking material to create a unified
theme. Here, it's the federal government. Example: What are the
three branches of government? Money, television, and b.s. It's hit
or miss, as most humor is, but the hits really score
bullseyes.
Whenever I read O'Rourke's stuff aloud to friends, there
isn't a dry seat in the house. I had the great pleasure of telling him
so in person at a book signing once. Parliament of Whores shows
P.J. to be more than a humorist--he is, if nothing else, the present
era's greatest political aphorist. Example: "When buying and
selling are legislated, the first thing to be bought and sold are
legislators." A keeper.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Hilarious. Now Give Me A Grant, February 7, 2002
By 
While various reviewers have called O'Rourke a "fractured voice of rock'n roll Republicanism" and basically complained about this book's lack of redeeming social values (thank God) I'd have to say that this is right up there with some of his best--if you like political satire and you agree that the next time the AFL-CIO or GM gets a new tax loophole, grant, or federal protection, you just might be sick. So it doesn't give a blueprint for Utopia--it just says ..., get government away from us, and points out exactly why. The phrases are tight, funny, and scathingly written. The points are blatant, correct, and you'll disagree with them. I didn't, but I'm a radical. Liberals may hate this book, but if they keep an open mind and think for a bit, they might accidentally become a fractured voice of rock n' roll libertarianism themselves. And then I won't have anything to worry about.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget what you learned in High School Civics., June 18, 2000
By 
Politically correct? Most decidedly not. Politically accurate?Without a doubt. If P.J. O'Rourke's critique of the Americanpolitical system wasn't so devastatingly accurate this book would rank alongside the classics of American humor. Sadly, O'Rourke's apt conclusion about the United States Government is all too true:
"Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us."
PARLIAMENT OF WHORES should be required reading in our nation's high schools. If O'Rourke's political treatise was offered as a supplement to the usual dry textbooks which are normally found in our nation's political science classrooms, the United States would have a citizenry whose political activism is unmatched across the globe. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspicions Confirmed., May 5, 2005
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you have ever thought to yourself, "Is Washington DC full of nothing but posturing idiots?", along comes P.J. O'Rourke to say "Well, Duh....". Armed with a factual knowledge of how DC dysfunctions and leavened with keen wit, O'Rourke takes us on a tour of the institutions of our Government, from the Congress to the the White House, through the Bureaucracies and various sinkholes of incompetence, hypocrisy, venality and just plain stupidity, and provides delicious humor while dissecting this "Confederacy of Dunces".

He also makes it abundantly clear that the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars (or our leaders) but in ourselves. We want it all, but we don't want to pay for it.

Using the apt phrase, the arch observation, the deadly accurate thrust of wit to puncture the balloons of buffoonery he finds built into our system and the people who bungle and abuse it, he actually presents a factually serious account of what goes wrong and why it continues to go wrong. He just can't help doing so without a large dose of insightful and wicked humor. Written back in the days of Bush Senior, before 9/11, it really would be overwhelmingly depressing how little things have changed and how the DC Band Plays On no matter what, if you didn't find the horse laugh in it all.

You will never listen to a budget battle, or the justification for a farm bill, or just about any other pose or posture taken by our fearless leaders again without a smile on your face. Of course we, the public, continue to fund and support this nonsense so we have no one but ourselves to blame.

The Republic has been beset by fools, incompetents, liars, cheats, morons and pompous asses from its inception. Luckily for us, it has also always had its cynical observers, ready with the stilleto of reason and common sense to jab, torment, mock and debunk the participants in this carnival of clowns. P.J. O'Rourke takes his place in that long pantheon of wits from Henry Adams and Mark Twain, to H.L. Mencken, Will Rogers, Mort Sahl and the rest, who took great joy in pulling down Washington DC's collective pants while sounding a loud Bronx cheer. And that razzberry may be the clarion call that says, yes, we just might survive it all, one more time.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny Book -- Too Bad It's All True!, September 14, 2003
This review is from: Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government (Paperback)
What is Congress other than a location where greedy, self-righteous, "whores" come up with arguments to "give away" stuff to us all year, but have the decency to leave us a bill on April 15th? In Parliament of Whores, P. J. O'Rourke shows us that our government has, over a period of years, cultivated a society where people no longer take responsibility for their own decission making. Every small decission, every mistake, no matter how slight, no matter how trivial, is seen as reason for the federal government to become involved. We are no longer a society where we settle differences between each other. Now we have to invite a central authority to settle our differences. This is a sad indictment of our modern life.
However, as long as we must put up with the strange policies our government decides to adjudicate (witness California's legislature and governor Gray Davis circa 2003 for a more in-depth view) for us, at least we should have a good laugh. This book is a good laugh. Ah, but how I wish most of the things contained in it were not true.
Michael
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-Hitting, Politically Incorrect and Totally Accurate!, December 23, 1999
By A Customer
This is what I call a good use of humor - to kick the tail end of Big Government and all its Liberal fans. O'Rourke does take shots at Conservatives where they demonstrate their hypocrisy over calls for "smaller government." But, by and large, this book is a scathing denouncement of the Liberal Washington Establishment, which exists to employ and fancy the whims of intellectual élites who think they can run the United States from their bureaucratic central controls better than individual American citizens can run their own lives. O'Rourke is refreshingly irreverent and politically incorrect. It reminds me of years past when a person could speak their mind without worrying over self-appointed censors crying foul. O'Rourke hears the censors but he just doesn't care. Good for him! I hope to read more of his Establishment drubbing and I look forward to scoffing at more manufactured outrage from the Left.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the Best!!!!, January 10, 1999
By A Customer
This is the best book written about government ever. O'Rourke is so right about what makes government works, and what makes it work wrong, that it's incredible he is not a legislator or a political science professor at Harvard. Also, he is so funny that the book is a pleasure to read. O'Rourk outdid himself on this one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars O'Rourke at his best, April 5, 2004
By A Customer
I read this book back in the 90's when the book was still somewhat new. I was in college at the time and a proud liberal too. This book really changed my views and challenged many of the beliefs I had held. It really sparked an interest for me in libertarian thought in general. The book may be dated with its references to the gulf war but its still very witty and a good read.
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Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government
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