Authored by Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black

Michael Ian Black is what the right would label an “educated, East Coast, liberal elite.” Meghan McCain, according to the left, should be an out-of-touch, unthinking automaton who walks in unquestioning lock-step with her party’s position on all the issues. The two of them team up to cross the country in an RV looking for common ground and to see if the stereotypes, perpetuated by both parties about themselves and the other guys, are really the whole story.

While they make no Earth-shattering revelations, have no great epiphanies about the American political scene, the reader gets a great deal of insight into the co-authors’ beliefs about America, and their own stereotypes of themselves and others. Written in a he-said, she-said format, alternating his and her interpretations of their adventures, the book is engaging and fun to read. If not exactly shedding light on the issues, it at least offers a glimpse into the perceptions (and misperceptions) that serve as building blocks for the wall between the parties.

Co-authored by a comedian, you probably all ready know this isn’t a book for those wanting a serious discussion on what’s wrong in American politics today. Surprisingly, it is the comedian’s introspection and internal debates that offer the more thought-provoking, contemplative moments in their search for what’s really happening in America. Black is analytical in his efforts to figuring out what’s right and wrong in the country’s politics. It’s clear he has actually researched his positions, not only to validate his pre-conceived notions, but to change those when the facts warrant, or, in many cases, to merely decide he’s torn. The issues are complicated and there are no easy answers.

Conversely, the conservative news commentator, Meghan McCain, who one would expect to be the more serious of the two, offers most of the humor and more lighthearted moments. Despite–or perhaps because of–all the advantages McCain’s family’s wealth and father’s political position have offered, Meghan comes across as incredibly young and naive, but never stupid. She has traveled widely, been exposed to people and places most Americans will never see (or choose to close a blind eye to), but it’s clear she’s had the protective bubble of “handlers” and money to keep her from experiencing any of it in more than a superficial, controlled way. There are no negative consequences for her actions: she isn’t going to have the electricity cut-off if she doesn’t keep her job, she isn’t going to lose a child to health problems because of no insurance, and her community isn’t going to cease to exist because of lack of government support after a natural disaster. Perhaps this is why she’s able to see the positive in grim situations. Her innocence at times makes her seem like a little sorority sister, rah-rah-ing her beloved Republican party.

That said, she also offers hope for the country’s future. Unlike any other Republican voices in the media or the GOP leadership today, she’s willing to disagree with party dogma and form her own opinions. She boldly opposes many of the right’s more extreme and unpalatable positions: she loves her guns and the right to bear arms, but acknowledges there’s no need for armor-piercing bullets and unregulated access to automatic weapons; she’s for gay marriage, and marijuana decriminalization. While she is vehemently pro-life, she’s also outspoken in her opposition to draconian legislation mandating transvaginal ultrasounds prior to a woman receiving an abortion, as proposed by some conservative state governors. She even believes the science behind climate change. Her advice to Republicans regarding this issue is some of the most sane to come out of a conservative since…well, since her father co-authored bills with Joe Lieberman on the issue in 2003, 2005, and 2007. “Just because it has historically been a liberal issue does not mean it isn’t also a Republican one, and can’t be an American one in the future.”

At the end of their journey, Black and McCain independently make note of the greatest irony of their adventure together. “…judging by lifestyle, we represent the stereotypes of the opposing political party.” McCain is the young, free-spirit who lives in NYC, the hotbed of liberal politics. Black is the suburban family man who “lives the life of Ward Cleaver.”

There are no great revelations in America, You Sexy Bitch, no answers or mapped out paths across the great political divide that exists in this country, but Black and McCain’s example shows that by getting to know each other as people, rather than “us” and “them” we might find common ground. We might come to see each other not as the enemy but as fellow Americans who want the same things. While I wouldn’t recommend this book for die-hard political junkies, America, You Sexy Bitch is an entertaining summer read. For me, the revelation that not all Republicans toe the party line without question was at least a little bit heartening. Maybe there is hope for our country after all.

Lynne M. Hinkey

This review was originally published in ‘The Internet Review of Books’. Book Club India by an arrangement made with ‘The Internet Review of Book’ republishes some of the best reviews. We gratefully acknowledge and thank the original reviewers and the promoters of this website.

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