Origen and Golan are the New York Times bestselling authors of Goodnight Bush, The Adventures of Unemployed Man, and Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus! No matter what they’re satirizing, their books are brilliant, hilarious, instant classics.
And now for the interview…
The book is a parody of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! but here the pigeon has been turned into a vulture.
Origen: When Romney was called a “vulture capitalist,” it confirmed we had chosen the right bird. HOWEVER, this bird doesn’t just represent vulture capitalism—it represents the casual viciousness of Republicans and the glib way they consume other people’s lives. He hates anything with the word “public” in it. Thinks government is “the problem.” Yet he somehow expects us to put him in charge of something he hates.
Golan: Right. If you were interviewing someone, and they said your company was “the problem,” I think most of us would say, “Okay… we’ll keep your information on file.”
On one page in the book, the vulture holds a gear shift knob, and we see the R for “Reverse.”
O: Specifically, they want to go back to 1/19/2009 – the day before Barack Obama took office. Ah yes, those halcyon days when everything was awesome. Maybe the economy was in freefall… but there’s a “free” in freefall, so it had to be great.
G: Another thing that comes with wanting to go back to the past is an assumption that the founders of America agreed with you — since the founders are in the past! But when you look at the founders, you see stark contrasts between their beliefs and the modern Republican platform. Just one example: When the founders were still British subjects, they had to pay taxes to state churches, Christian churches. To end this, and to give people religious freedom — within Christianity or otherwise — they separated church and state. Jefferson even had the word “God” redacted from his bible! Yet today’s Republicans seem to think blurring the lines between church and state is a great idea.
O: So Republicans are trapped between the people in the present who disagree with them and the people in the past who disagree with them. Thus the need for an alternative reality. An alternative past, present, and future.
In the Occupy movement, people seem to feel that democracy has been subverted, and they blame the influence of Wall Street on both parties, not just Republicans.
G: We include the Democrats in the book, too. They don’t get a free pass. Literally.
O: I’m reminded of that piece going around, “Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult,” where the author quotes the classic scene from Double Indemnity:
Barbara Stanwyck: “We’re both rotten!”
Fred MacMurray: “Yeah—only you’re a little more rotten.”
That’s how I feel about the difference between the parties at the moment. The Republicans are more rotten. And during Obama’s presidency, they have abdicated their responsibility to America just to torpedo Obama.
G: In the book, the birds can’t bite the hand that feeds them.
O: Unfortunately, we’re living with this two-party system, so we have to take sides. The way I see it, the Democrats have at least occasionally made an effort to be the party of all Americans, while the Republicans are the party of a few, the feminist backlash, and the Civil Rights backlash.
G: Even if we presuppose the Democrats dominating again as they once did, we have to remember that politicians are somewhat like single-celled organisms: they respond to pleasure and pain, and it’s up to we the people to move them in the direction we want them to go. That’s why this book is really about the ideologies that drive the Republican agenda. Today, those ideologies can be called Republican, but they’re also embraced by some Democrats… those ideas will always be lying around. So in some way our book is working to inoculate us against these ideologies.
O: In essence, we’re fighting a certain strain of bird flu.
Your previous book was The Adventures of Unemployed Man, an international bestseller and one of the best-reviewed graphic novels in recent years. What was it like to work on that during the transition from Bush to Obama?
G: Even before Bush left office, the recession was upon us. Everyone was talking about it, but not really addressing how we got there. In late 2008 we created the George W. Bush Presidential Librarium, a kind of theme park, and it ended with “Recession Accomplished!” So we were taking off from that point. We wanted to tell the story of the recession—both the human cost and how it resulted from 30-plus years of policy and history. The result was The Adventures of Unemployed Man.
In a way, Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus! is a follow-up to your earlier book, Goodnight Bush. What are some of the differences between the two books?
G: Goodnight Bush was about defining the legacy of an individual and an administration in a funny yet cathartic way. Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus! is also funny and cathartic, but it covers the ideologies that get passed down from one vulture to the next, via regurgitation.
O: In other words, it’s a perennial.
Is there potential for versions of Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus! in other countries?
O: The publisher is talking about international versions, like Don’t Let the Tory Drive the Bus! We’d have to make some changes. For instance, instead of the Republican crapping on the Lincoln Memorial’s head, the Tory could crap on the Wilberforce Memorial’s head.
G: Right. It’s the bird crap that’s universal.
Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus! is now available wherever books are sold!