P. J. O'Rourke

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P. J. O'Rourke
PJ O'Rourke 1.jpg
Born Patrick Jake O'Rourke
(1947-11-14) November 14, 1947 (age 73)
Toledo, Ohio
Education Miami University
Johns Hopkins University
Occupation Political satirist

Patrick Jake "P. J." O'Rourke (/rʊərk/; born November 14, 1947) is an American political satirist and journalist. O'Rourke is the H. L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and is a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard, and frequent panelist on National Public Radio's game show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!. Since 2011 O'Rourke has been a columnist at The Daily Beast.[1] In the United Kingdom, he is known as the face of a long-running series of television advertisements for British Airways in the 1990s.

He is the author of 20 books, of which his latest, The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault) (And I’ll Never Do It Again), was released January 2014. This was preceded on September 21, 2010, by Don't Vote! – It Just Encourages the Bastards, and on September 1, 2009, Driving Like Crazy with a reprint edition published on May 11, 2010. According to a 60 Minutes profile, he is also the most quoted living man in The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations.

Life and career

P. J. O'Rourke was born in Toledo, Ohio, the son of Delphine Loy, a housewife, and Clifford Bronson O'Rourke, a car salesman.[2][3] He attended Toledo's DeVilbiss High School, graduating in 1965. He did his undergraduate work at Miami University, in Ohio, and earned an M.A. in English at Johns Hopkins University while a brother of the Alpha Delta Phi Literary Society. He recounts that during his student days he was a left-leaning hippie, but that in the 1970s his political views underwent a volte-face. He emerged as a political observer and humorist with libertarian viewpoints.

O'Rourke wrote articles for several publications, including "A.J. at N.Y.U." for The Rip Off Review of Western Culture, an underground magazine/comic book, in 1972, as well as pieces for the Baltimore underground newspaper Harry and the New York Ace, before joining National Lampoon in 1973, where he served as managing editor among other roles and authored articles such as "Foreigners Around the World" and "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink." He received a writing credit for National Lampoon's Lemmings which helped launch the careers of John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest. He also co-wrote National Lampoon's 1964 High School Yearbook with Douglas Kenney. O'Rourke said later that Kenney brought comedy to the piece and he brought the organization. The Yearbook was a bestseller and some themes were later used in the movie Animal House.

Going freelance in 1981, O'Rourke began publishing in magazines such as Playboy, Vanity Fair, Car and Driver, and Rolling Stone. He became foreign-affairs desk chief at Rolling Stone, where he remained until 2001. In 1996, he served as the conservative commentator in the point-counterpoint segment of 60 Minutes.

O'Rourke was married to Amy Lumet, a daughter of movie director Sidney Lumet and a granddaughter of Lena Horne, from 1990 to 1993. Since 1995 he has been married to his second wife, Tina, and they have two daughters, Elizabeth and Olivia, and one son, Clifford. O'Rourke splits his time between the small town of Sharon, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C.

O'Rourke has published 16 books, including three New York Times bestsellers. Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List. O'Rourke was a "Real Time Real Reporter" for Real Time with Bill Maher covering the 2008 Presidential Election.

O'Rourke revealed on September 28, 2008, that he has been diagnosed with treatable anal cancer, from which he can expect "a 95% chance of survival." His announcement is typical of his writing in that it handled a very serious subject within his humorous style.[4]

In 2009, O'Rourke described the Presidency of Barack Obama as "the Carter administration in better sweaters".[5]


O'Rourke was a proponent of Gonzo journalism; one of his earliest and best-regarded pieces was "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink", a National Lampoon article in March 1979.[6] The article was republished in two of his books, Republican Party Reptile (1987) and Driving Like Crazy (2009).

O'Rourke's best-received book is Parliament of Whores, subtitled A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government, whose main argument, according to the author, "is that politics are boring".[7]

O'Rourke has described himself as a libertarian.[8]

O'Rourke types his manuscripts on an IBM Selectric typewriter, though he denies that he is a Luddite, asserting that his short attention span would make focusing on writing on a computer difficult.[9] In a January 2007 interview, O'Rourke gave an example of his view of computers and writing by referencing novelist Stephen King, whom he paraphrased – saying had he a computer, he could have written three times as much in his early days. To which O'Rourke remarked, "Does the world need three times as many Cujos? Three times as many Jane Austens, maybe."[citation needed]


See also


  1. [1] P.J. O'Rourke's author page at The Daily Beast
  2. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20120668,00.html
  3. [2]
  4. Give me liberty and give me death, Los Angeles Times September 28, 2008
  5. Shanahan, Leo (23 April 2009). "The world (and its crisis) according to P.J." The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax Media. Retrieved 22 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Full text at the Wayback Machine (archived January 24, 2003), National Lampoon mirror, Internet Archive, archive made 01-24-2003, archive retrieved 05-05-2007.
  7. Swirski, Peter (2010). "Ars Americana Ars Politica". McGill-Queen’s University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Live Online with PJ O'Rourke, Washington Post September 10th, 2001
  9. Garner, Dwight (November 9, 2007). "Stray Questions for: P. J. O'Rourke". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links