Take it from P.J.

In time for the mid-term elections, O'Rourke ruminates anew on exactly why and just how badly politics stink.

Politics is a familiar beat for Peterborough's P.J. O'Rourke, whose book titles alone ("Parliament of Whores," "Give War a Chance," "Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut") serve as some of the more potent conservative polemics of our age. His books are always personal and filled with asides and non sequiturs that allow them to tickle as much as they skewer, but his stream-of-consciousness delivery seems amped up in his latest volume.

Perhaps it's because it's the first election since the '70s (when O'Rourke was writing for National Lampoon) that there has been a legitimate liberal in the Oval Office. Anyway, however bumpy the trail, he's the perfect pal to ride shotgun on a road trip into the political Heart of Darkness that is Campaign 2010 (and don't get him started on Campaign 2012).

"Don't Vote ..." covers political philosophy, morals and the rules of the game with chapter titles like "Putting Our Big Fat Political Ass on a Diet" and "The Next Big Stink." He even has a chapter titled "Climate Change" that is exactly one page long.

Tea Partiers will find much to like in his wheezy analyses of our dire political straits, neocons will recognize him as the court jester in their ivory-towered palace, and anyone else who thinks they have something to say, from socialistas to Free Staters, could learn a lot by listening to a master who, after a dozen-plus political manifestos, seems to be just getting warmed up. - Rick Broussard

"Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards," 2010, Atlantic Monthly Press, $25

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