Conservatize Me

In which the KUOW host tries to find his red-state inner self.

Conservatize Me

By John Moe (Morrow, $24.95) Local radio host John Moe is nothing if not frank about the title and premise of his first book, which centers around a one-month political makeover he attempted during the summer of 2005: Somewhat in the spirit of Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me, Moe embraced everything that was foreign to our blue-state biases. The subtitle says it all: "How I Tried to Become a Righty With the Help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith, and Beef Jerky," which would be no less effective on the marquee of a one-man show. Moe has a background in theater and at Amazon.com, which also places his entire mock-scientific project in the tradition of Mike Daisey's 21 Dog Years. He's not biting the hand that feeds, of course, but instead trying to infiltrate the pound of a species that's a despised political minority in Seattle. It's a good comic starting point, and one chuckles all through the book while wishing he returned to it for a bit more semiserious consideration. Why, in other words, is the very idea of a Seattle conservative so inherently ridiculous? Moe has written for Seattle Weekly, and his very funny lists, riffs, and ephemera for the McSweeney's Web site have earned him the all-powerful Dave Eggers jacket blurb for Conservatize Me. Less of a structured satire than an observational amalgam, it's consistently amusing in the way a Web surfer might toggle between Moe's KUOW interviews (here including William Kristol and James Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon, as if they were on an equal footing), his right-wing iPod playlists (where Kid Rock and Lee Greenwood join company), random movie reviews (Patton is judged to be more conservatively persuasive than Red Dawn), and lists like "39 Questions for Charlie Daniels Upon Hearing 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' for the First Time in 25 Years." Rather too easy are road trips to the Reagan and Nixon museums and rubbing shoulders with geeky college Republicans; this fish-in-a-barrel stuff writes itself, like ABC's Robert Krulwich going to a Star Trek convention. Though his book absolutely lacks a conclusion—shocker! Some Republicans are nice, ordinary, decent people not supportive of the war in Iraq or dismissive of evolution—Moe is best on his home turf. He drops in on Michael Medved and goes to country karaoke night at the Little Red Hen. He test drives an Escalade in Bellevue (hmmm, I test drove a Hummer in 2003—but all liberal journalists think alike). He notes of Jim McDermott's safe seat for life, "[H]e could have been dead wrong [about WMDs], run naked through downtown Seattle shooting random strangers, and eaten a baby koala—live on television—and he still would have received at least 62 percent [of the vote]." Exactly, and this town's insular liberal conformity would make a better target for a sympathetic leftie scoffer like Moe. He muses, "With every Noam Chomsky lecture I heard on public radio, every 'Lick Bush' bumper sticker I saw on an old Volvo, I wondered if I was like Neo in the movie The Matrix, trapped inside a liberal universe waiting for Laurence Fishburne/George W. Bush to set me free." So for the next book: Take the blue pill. BRIAN MILLER

 
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