Peace Corps Writers

The Bush Survival Bible

The Bush Survival Bible
250 Ways to Make It Through the Next Four Years without Misunderestimating the Dangers Ahead, and Other Subliminable Stategeries
by Gene Stone (Niger 1974–76)
Villard Books
November 2004
121 pages

John Coyne interviewed
Gene Stone in January, 2005

Reviewed by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1964–65)

IN THE WEEK BEFORE THE 2004 presidential election, author Gene Stone composed The Bush Survival Bible by combining his own lists with contributions from friends in public life,Printer friendly version education, and writing. To sweeten the blend, Stone includes a few well-traveled Bush jokes and Bushisms as sidebars.
     The book is presented as therapy for depressed Democrats who suffer from “postelection stress disorder.” That alone sets the mixed mood of the book. Democrats are suffering, but many are still in denial. To overcome this stagnation, Stone offers both humorous and serious advice.
     Some sections are corny and fun; check out “13 Ways to Pass as a Republican” or “6 Reasons to Love Global Warming.” Other sections are somber and chilling. In “7 American Politicians More Frightening Than Bush,” Stone passes up the opportunity for comedy, choosing instead to describe genuine right-wing ideologues. They include Richard Barrett (founder of the Nationalist Movement, a white supremacist organization), Alan Keys, Haley Barbour (Mississippi governor with ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, another white supremacist group), David Duke, Tom Parker (Republican candidate for Alabama’s Supreme Court), Patrick Johnston (a Constitution Party spokesperson who seeks to criminalize homosexuality), and Tom Delay, R-Texas.
     For desperate Democrats who must escape the gallery of right-wing extremists altogether, Stone presents guidelines for settling in countries with “a Bush-free environment.” They include France, Canada, Spain, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Iceland, and Pitcairn Island (not recommended).
     To reduce the impact of the 2004 election, Democrats might begin with “9 New Drinks to Get You By” and imbibe the night away with a “Bloody Mary Cheney,” a “Tom Ridge Collins,” an “Old-Fashioned Family Values,” and a “Banana Swift Boat.” Democrats still standing after all nine drinks can debate substitutes for the “9 People Worse Than Bush” list. The competition is a veritable monster hall of fame, with figures such as Tomas de Torquemada (Spanish inquisitor-general), Vlad Tepes, (of the Dracula legend), Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Genghis Khan.
     Stone balances waves of hyperbole with practical lists on how to cope with electoral defeat. His serious advice involves nurturing one’s mental and physical health, rejecting the politics of fear, and participating in local politics.
     Democrats dedicated to defeating Republicans might turn to editor/author Kurt Andersen’s contribution, “7 Media Habits of Highly Effective People Who Aren’t Republicans.” He suggests that Democrats should “Watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart every night” and “Read anything Jim Fallows [Atlantic Monthly national correspondent] writes about the administration.” Andersen’s most vital advice, however, is to “Avoid the left-wing opinion-silo syndrome.” By this, Andersen is suggesting that Democrats absorb the writings of “intelligent, disillusioned, hawkish anti-Bushites like Paul Berman in Slate and The American Prospect, Andrew Sullivan at, and Mickey Kaus at”
     One section that all Bush critics can convert into a nightly game, while sipping “Old-Fashioned Family Values” at the corner tavern, incorporates an observation from author Nick Morgan in a section titled, “1 Way to Tell If Bush Is Lying.” Most Democrats are old hands at this, but just in case, Stone says to watch Bush’s eyes. “[Morgan] says that when Bush lies, his eyes dart quickly from side to side. ‘The moment I [Morgan] saw this was when he said that he wanted peace with Iraq and that he would seek out every possible avenue for peace. I knew then that the war was a done deal.’”
     Stone’s prescription for Democrats is to take the medicine of defeat with a spoonful of laughs. However, if “postelection stress disorder” does not improve in a couple of days, then I recommend the radical procedure of giving copies of The Bush Survival Bible to Republican friends.
Tony Zurlo’s poetry, fiction, reviews, and essays have appeared in more than sixty-five journals, magazines, and anthologies. He has also published non-fiction books on Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Japanese Americans, West Africa, and Algeria. Currently he is working on a book about Malaysia. Tony lives in Arlington, Texas.
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