“America, You Sexy Bitch”: A Review

America, You Sexy Bitch~ Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain

Plot Summary (from Amazon): She is a single, twentysomething, gun-loving, Christian, Republican writer and blogger, the daughter of a Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee. He is a married, forty-year-old, gun-fearing, atheist, Democrat comedian, the son of a lesbian former Social Security employee. Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black barely know each other. But they are about to change the way politics is discussed in America.

Or at least the way politics are discussed in their crappy RV.

In America, You Sexy Bitch, Meghan and Michael embark on a balls-out, cross-country tour starting in California, the heart of liberal America, and ending in the state of Connecticut, the home of blue-blood Wall Street billionaires. Along the way, they visit such cultural touchstones as Graceland and Branson, party in Las Vegas and New Orleans, pretend to be Mormon in Salt Lake City (only for a second), and go to a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan. They tour the nation’s capital; they fire semiautomatic weapons. But mostly Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black talk to each other: about their differences, their similarities, and how American politics has gotten so divided.

Soundtrack: “American Woman” ~ Lenny Kravitz

This was an obvious choice, since it’s Meghan’s karaoke song and a fitting track to the mental image of their RV rolling across the country during a summer heat wave. Something about sweaty car seats just screams Lenny Kravitz to me.

Best Enjoyed With: Anything Alcoholic. Preferably a Bourbon Slush, because those sounded delish.

Let me start off by specifying that there will be more than one post on this book, because I flagged waaaaay too many quotes to be contained in one blog post. That said, this post is solely intended as a review of the book as a whole.

One night, Michael Ian Black decided to check Twitter after taking an Ambien. While not the most common recreational activity, this enabled him to pitch a book idea to Meghan McCain: Let’s take a cross country road trip to talk to Real Americans about politics and the state of our country. To his surprise she accepted, and this book was born. Spawned. Created… whatev.

A great deal of this book challenged my perceptions of the main political parties in this country, though I can’t say that I will necessarily change the way that I perceive my own affiliation. I certainly understand more what the two parties’ ideals are, and I found the juxtaposition in the last chapter to be fascinating- Meghan McCain, Republican, heading off to a new life in the city, and Michael Ian Black settling back into his lovely home in the suburbs. It just emphasized that certain people are drawn to particular lifestyles, regardless of what the stereotypical “affiliation” of that lifestyle may be (ie the wandering free-spirited Democrat or the nuclear family-centered Republican).

I greatly admire Meghan McCain for what she is trying to do for the Republican Party, moving them away from the radical and updating their image to appeal to a wider range of people. She’s an ardent patriot, staunch in her belief that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world. She’s also a woman in her 20s, dealing with the scrutiny of being in the public eye from a very young age. She’s also brassy, sassy, and lays it ALL out there. She’s a walking contradiction- a voice of the young Republican party who is a supporter of gay marriage and believes the government should stay out of women’s girlybits. But why should that make her a contradiction? She states multiple times that she sees the world in shades of grey, not black and white, and that is EXACTLY what we need in politics right now. I also desperately want to put on some slutty heels, drink some whiskey and listen to country music with her. (Only if she keeps her hands off my girlcrush, Jennifer Nettles.)

(Hear that, Meghan? Call me! *wink)

Michael Ian Black comes off as being a bit more distant, at least to me. He is the cynical observer, making note of the reactions of those around him. To that point, when he does experience a strong emotional response, the reader pauses and takes note. He is actually extremely responsible and respectful of what they’re trying to accomplish, making him the surprising “straight guy” among the RV crew.

They definitely accomplished a trip through an interesting cross-section of America- trekking through the southern US and hitting such notable destinations as Memphis, Nashville, Austin and NOLA. They made a point of travelling both to Salt Lake City and the Muslim capitol of the US, Dearborn, Michigan. Their journey concludes in Washington, DC over dinner with Senator John McCain himself, and provides a unique look at the current emotional climate on Capitol Hill. My only gripe with their journey was that I actually felt that some of the more liberal states were under-represented. That’s entirely a personal opinion, but I would have liked to see a visit to the Pacific Northwest, or perhaps to New England (which traditionally swings more liberal and where gay marriage is legal in a number of states).

I’ve read some criticism of this book as being an overblown road trip, just a series of vignettes mostly taking place in bars. However, I do think that Michael and Meghan set out and accomplished exactly what they were aiming for- they proved that two polar opposites could spend an extended period of time together and foster an open, honest dialogue about the state of American politics right now. No, they’re not going to save the world or fix global warming. That’s not what they set out to do.

I admit, I found myself wondering toward the end if the book would get to the point, and Michael knocked it out of the park for me on page 295:

“My cynical view on our nation is simple: we’re fucked. Before leaving for the trip, I thought our current fuckedness was a temporary aberration… But after diving deeper into our problems, I realized that America has some serious, perhaps fundamental, troubles.

If you start to talk about healthcare, for example, you have to talk about the poor. If you talk about the poor, you have to talk about jobs. If you talk about jobs, you have to talk about globalization….and pretty soon you’re not talking about anything because you’re talking about everything. Each issue is so hopelessly entwined with every other that they’re like a ball of yarn the cat’s gotten into.”

That, my friends, is it in a nutshell. That’s what makes it so difficult for us to have a civil political dialogue at this point in American history- everything is so interrelated that it’s difficult to choice one point of discussion without inevitably offending someone’s view on a related topic. YES. Michael and Meghan proved through their trip that it CAN be done, as long as we all seek to dig deep for understanding and turn off our egos.

Perhaps most striking to me was the book’s (perhaps unintentional) comparison of Meghan McCain to America. Sometimes they’re both a sexy bitch. Sometime’s they’re both a hot mess. But America has always been one to go her own way, and nobody is a better example of that than someone who is attempting to blaze a new political trail.  Meghan is a die-hard patriot, and America needs someone like that in her corner for future generations.

This book certainly made me laugh, made me think, and made me dog-ear more pages than I’m proud to admit.

Four and a half out of Five Stinky RVs.

*Disclosure: I received this book from in exchange for an honest review and participation in Mandy’s Blogger Book Club. Many Thanks to Mandy for this experience!*

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5 thoughts on ““America, You Sexy Bitch”: A Review

  1. I’m quite intrigued based on your review. 🙂 I’m looking forward to your folllow-up posts. And now, as your friend….any way I can borrow it??

  2. “Serious perhaps fundamental troubles” and being generally fucked is the knowledge with which I started the book. It made it really hard to laugh and every time I’ve tried to write about this book some very sad looking, depressed Russian guy (probably the one of the characters from Goodbye, Lenin) sits down at a typewriter in a very cold room and starts to emote.

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