Penn Jillette: Getting yelled at by my idol for appearing on Glenn Beck

posted at 7:11 pm on October 21, 2009 by Allahpundit

Via Moxie, the emotion here is raw enough to make this a surprisingly tough watch — but stick with it, as it’s genuinely moving. I’m surprised, frankly, that GB hasn’t had him on the show yet to talk about it. Or maybe he has and I’m out of the loop?

As with most of PJ’s monologues, there’s a sprinkling of profanity, so please observe your official content warning.

Update (Ed): Penn’s been one of my favorites for many years.  Penn, feel free to come on my show any time.  I’d even let you yell at me … a little bit, anyway.

Breaking on Hot Air



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We all walk our own path and no one, not even a personal hero, has the right to denigrate anyone for it. Smothers was being an arrogant ass.

elclynn on October 22, 2009 at 6:26 AM

So Tommy told you to your face instead of writing a letter. Shame because the post office could have used the business. Intolerance is ugly. Try using Roman Polanski as an example of separating a person’s art or work from their character, if possible. Beyond the crush of being used in such vehement fashion, take heart that after the public scold Tommy showed how much he appreciated you helping him further his cause.

FeFe on October 22, 2009 at 6:35 AM

Smothers choses to put blinders on and follow. Penn takes his own path. Which is more of a man? Need I ask?

Better to walk a path less traveled.

moyeti on October 22, 2009 at 6:38 AM


Idol or no, Tommy Smothers has always been a mean spirited putz when it comes to conservatives and Republicans. If he’s willing to throw you over because of politics, you need to tell him where to stick it and where to go.

The 60s did a number on him. He’s not worth the angst.

themistocles on October 22, 2009 at 7:38 AM

Funny how some of those who took on the “establishment”
back in the day have become the same type assholes they
once despised. Oh the irony.

elderberry on October 22, 2009 at 7:40 AM

I sympathize with the guy, because it is a real shock to see people that you think have certain values and similar thoughts, that you are surrounding with and then you mention BOOOOSSSHHHH or REAGAN and it’s like the Exorcist transformation. Well, he got a big surprise! Welcome to the club, dude!

OTOH, when it comes to Atheists I don’t put them down, I don’t reject them like a die hard liberal, I believe they are stuck on a level that they have to breach in order to become aware of their spirituality and feel the peace that God offers.

I am Catholic; I am patient and I can wait for Allah (who I respect and appreciate his hard work here, and Penn who I have no grudge against). After all, it’s kinda sweet to see an atheist say:


ProudPalinFan on October 22, 2009 at 7:42 AM

Sounds like you are in the same boat as me, try not to let it get to you, keep the faith, you have friends….sigh…

clinker46 on October 21, 2009 at 8:34 PM


ProudPalinFan on October 22, 2009 at 7:45 AM

Most people get confused between right and left ideology.I wonder how long will Penn realize his belief is actually toward the right and not the left. Lots of soul searching in the coming months for him.

Libertarianism has been more right leaning, because of its emphasis on small government that is non intrusive into personal lives and free markets.But because libertarians and libertarian leaning Republicans have a more secular idea of government, and do not think GOP should be centered around things like sex and gay marriage, the Social Conservatives often try to claim libertarian beliefs are leftist and are some kind of crypto-communists, which is totally absurd.Small government libertarianism and traditional GOP beliefs are about as opposite as can be from Obama and the modern Democratic Party.I think a lot of libertarians voted Democratic lately, not over some love of Obama and the Democratic platform, but are very uncomfortable with the level of government involvement in personal issues that Social Conservatives and Evangelicals want in the GOP Platform

firepilot on October 22, 2009 at 7:50 AM

So, Tommy Smothers wants to engage in censorship.

Scratch a lefty, find the fascist gibbering underneath.

N. O'Brain on October 22, 2009 at 8:28 AM

Gee Smothers, hyperbole much? Glenn Beck as ‘Hitler’?

The problem is not that he said it, the problem is that Penn or anyone else is giving it credibility. Just because Smothers is your hero doesn’t mean that he can’t act like a moron.

Agree with Beck or don’t, but Hitler references about some guy that has an opinion show is over the top hysteria.

Your idol overreacts, and so you overreact? If Beck is wrong, why not choose instead to roll your eyes and ignore him? Instead of being like those on the left who wring their hands and throw bricks at the television because someone dared to criticize The Great and Powerful Oz.

Free speech, more speech, yes. Smothers is an idiot, you are being overly emotional about the thing. You also just learned that just because someone is talented in one thing, doesn’t mean that they’re superior in all things.

One more thing: Beck isn’t Hitler. Hitler was Hitler. He’s a bit hyperbolic himself. I don’t agree with everything he says but he has a right to say it, and when he says it, it doesn’t bother me. I also don’t stay up at night worried about what he’s going to say next. He’s a pundit, not a journalist. And you know what they say about opinions, everyone has one.

He also has something to say that isn’t wrong, and what’s important about that is that few people in the media are critizing the Obama Administration. If you or Smothers want to get ‘concerned’, be concerned that there are too many yes men out there and not enough people going WHAT?

THAT is the part that is dangerous. Too many lemmings, not enough critical thinking and discussion.

GeeWhiz on October 22, 2009 at 8:32 AM

Gosh, Tommy. Weren’t you and Dickie censored by CBS? Not very hypocritical, are you?

kingsjester on October 22, 2009 at 8:38 AM

Penn is a true liberal. The liberal movement that came out of the hippie generation. The old movement that said “Never trust the government”, etc.

The liberal view of old has more of the liberatarian view than today’s liberal views today.

jeffn21 on October 22, 2009 at 8:48 AM

“Yes I would Tommy,and I would try and tell the truth”

Great point by Penn.

It’s called “Free speech”…..”an exchange of ideas”

Something liberals can not handle and will not tolerate.

Baxter Greene on October 22, 2009 at 8:51 AM

Penn is a likable guy… and I’ve always found him entertaining… I hate to say anything negative… but it always strikes me funny when atheists make appeals with words such as “evil” or “moral.”

In the end, he’s right to this end… if you’re allowed to make your points, why wouldn’t you go on any show any time any where? I’d go on any show that would have me too (none will have me, but that’s beside the point!).

mankai on October 22, 2009 at 8:53 AM

Its hard to find that someone you love as Penn does Tommy, is a narrow minded,my way or the highway kind of person, I think
Penn is heart broken to find out the quality or, lack of, of his friend

Bridgette on October 22, 2009 at 9:02 AM

It is sad that a person can be swayed into such dispicable views by a celebrity he looks up to. He knows instinctively what is right but questions himself. This is how celebrities use their power to spread liberalism. Smothers used familiar liberal tactics to intimidate others into falling into line with an ideology that deep down in their heart of hearts they know is wrong. It feels wrong to them but they cannot help themselves. They want the approval of an “icon” because he is an atheist and has no reference point; no values other than what he makes for himself.

They are atheists. Liberalism takes the place of faith in something else. Liberalism is their religion; a religion more intolerant than any Judeo Christion form. Smothers is the most shining example.

artman1746 on October 22, 2009 at 9:17 AM

I’ve watched the Smothers Brothers since their beginning. I just don’t get it. They’ve never been that funny. Tommy pretends to be stupid. Wow, milk that for 40 years. As far as music and them..two letters…P U.

They were anti-war people on TV in 1968. Big Deal. Next we will relive the greatness of 3 days in upstate NY in 1969 with a bunch of stinking, vomiting, high & drunk people acting like animals wallowing in the mud and somehow, that mattered..LOL

Jeff from WI on October 22, 2009 at 9:20 AM

They are atheists. Liberalism takes the place of faith in something else. Liberalism is their religion; a religion more intolerant than any Judeo Christion form. Smothers is the most shining example.

Have you been paying attention? Penn is no liberal at all. There is a huge difference between leftist liberalism (big government that used laws for leftist social change) and libertarianism (small government that should stay out of peoples lives as much as possible), although for some reason, evangelicals and social conservatives think they are one in the same.

firepilot on October 22, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Aww. Penn got yelled at by his idol.

Who cares?

Penn is an Anti-Christian Bigot and propagandist.

He deserves way worse.

What the H#ll was Glenn Beck even doing allowing that evil Anti-Christian bigot on his show anyway?

MaximusConfessor on October 22, 2009 at 9:29 AM

I love Penn. I love Glenn Beck. Too young to really remember the Smothers Brothers. I’m a Catholic that respects Penn’s right to be an Atheist. I’m a conservative Libertarian who happens to be socially liberal like Penn, Stossel,etc…I would have been a Goldwater conservative..Anyone claiming to have a monopoly on being right in politics is a liar or self deceptive. Everyone has a point, right or wrong, and that’s why debate is healthy. For Smothers to give Gilette a verbal beat down just shows he’s of the “I’m right and that’s the end of the debate” mentality. The Left has become unglued. Penn is I believe a social liberal(live and let live), fiscal and national defense conservative like myself. It takes all kinds, otherwise it’d be a boring world of either a communist hive or a puritanical “maoism” of some kind. America has always debated….Penn, for what it’s worth, I consider you a patriotic American and one of my heroes…Screw Tommy Smothers….

adamsmith on October 22, 2009 at 9:34 AM

I find it really funny how the left is supposed to be the more “tolerant” side of politics. As we daily have proof, not only are the lefties more pointy head than most pointy heads anymore, they’re willing to throw aside free speech just so they can tell the rest of us how wrong we are. They cannot stand to hear any other side of anything and when forced to, they act just like Tommy Smothers did.

What a shame. Ah well, keep up the good work, Penn. Now if we can just get YOU off the “all people who believe in God are idiots” kick we’ll have ya set up a treat.

Mad Mad Monica on October 22, 2009 at 9:48 AM

Eh, I doubt Penn reads HA.

spmat on October 22, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Tommy Smothers didn’t “act” stupid, as the song goes, it was a gig where “all I gotta do is, act naturally!!!”

They were at the right place at the right time, just as the first TV generation came of age and started to look for political humor that made their elders uncomfortable. They’ve ridden that remarkable piece of luck for 40 years, with no other accomplishments to their names. (which is why they’ve disapeared, except for the left wing nostalgia tours)

I like Penn, but shame on him for holding up such a vapid airhead as an “idol”. My god, any hobo off the street would make a better idol than that.

WWS on October 22, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Penn – by the “Smothers Argument” Jesse Owens should not have competed at Hitler’s 1936 Olympics. What Mr. Owens did, showed to the world and more importantly, to the German people that Hitler was not perfect. That God had given one of his “undesirables’” skills far superior to his Master Race. It showed him as Wrong!

barnone on October 22, 2009 at 10:12 AM

I would suggest he find a better idol, but he’s already made that choice. Too bad for him.

SKYFOX on October 22, 2009 at 10:16 AM

@ firepilot on October 22, 2009 at 7:50 AM

Well said! The distinctions are often glossed over. Many deride all libertarians as potheads too. Neither a pothead nor an atheist, but I can respect their views.

Firefly_76 on October 22, 2009 at 10:39 AM

Smothers is still alive? Seriously, I thought he’d kicked the bucket long ago.

blr2449 on October 22, 2009 at 10:46 AM

Maybe I just have lucked out, but similar to Penn, I have had a couple of experiences of getting verbally taken out by some people I’ve seriously admired and looked up to, while in front of a crowd who knew both of us. It sucks, and leaves you with a big, fat hole in your gut. What I saw on Penn’s video was a man dealing with the aftermath of such a blow, and emotionally and intellectually analyzing it.

No, I don’t agree with Penn on everything. But I’ve watched him on Glenn’s show, and what I see are two very bright guys who don’t agree on everything, having very intelligent helpful discussions on important topics of the day, without getting into screaming matches about whether or not God exists, or any other points they may disagree on. I believe that is important, especially in the current political atmosphere, where people feel they have to surround themselves with ideological mirrors.

The problem I see with people like Smothers is that they refuse to see anyone’s POV but their own, and that leads to a very, very narrow perspective, and small set of choices when approaching what are some enormous problems with our world right now. Smothers was wrong to do what he did, and it did nothing but make him look like the shallow, awful human being he was. Penn may have idolized him, but that will be fading henceforth.

I’m not saying we need to listen to every idiotic thought that comes down the line. But when an intelligent person presents an obviouly thoughtful perspective, it doesn’t hurt to take a minute and try to understand where they are coming from. You don’t have to agree, just try to better understand who they are.

On a final note, I don’t think that Penn’s appearing on Glenn’s shown meant that Penn agreed with everything Glenn’s show stands for, which was somethings Smothers stated to Penn. It could be perceived that way, yes, but it does not mean that. And if Penn felt he could effectively argue against Mr. Hitler on the Hitler Program (7-8 pm), then he should go for it. I wouldn’t do it because I would lose my temper with the host. But Penn’s got way more patience than I do, and if he could hold his own and change a few minds, it would be worth the extraordinary effort. Smothers should therefore bugger off, because it is obvious he does not understand the whole reason for thoughtful discourse in the first place.

WraithRat on October 22, 2009 at 10:48 AM

Sadly, I have noted that lately there have been few “Guests” on Glenn’s show that are in anyway an opposing viewpoint. I hope the boycott of opposition positions ends.

barnone on October 22, 2009 at 10:51 AM

One man wants to shut down a show he disagrees with and another man wants to use that show to promote his ideas and opinions. Jillette is right and Smothers is a typical liberal. No dissenting opinions allowed.

gordo on October 22, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Laugh In was a funny show. The Smothers Brothers sucked.

Coronagold on October 22, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Actually, Gillette hasn’t been on Glenn Beck’s show for several months.
Question: When your “HERO” is a scumbag, when does it become time to dump that person as a “HERO”, or do you ignore their “Scumbaggery” and become a scumbag yourself?

nelsonknows on October 22, 2009 at 2:21 PM

…and hope he burns in Hell. No forgiveness here.

…I would’ve made sure I’d have hit him in the face with it.

It takes a lot for me to actually hate someone, but I hate him with a passion.

Dino64 on October 21, 2009 at 8:33 PM

And you think it’s he that is the problem, rather than you?

Unclench your fist. It doesn’t seem like you’ve taken the tenets of the religion you’re trying to defend into your heart at all.


VekTor on October 22, 2009 at 2:43 PM

That was painful. A hardcore Liberal trying to reconcile finding out The Truth about hardcore Liberals and intolerance. Simply amazing.

Sultry Beauty on October 22, 2009 at 5:04 PM

barnone on October 22, 2009 at 10:12 AM

Someone email Penn this quick. Don’t let the dust settle before he’s through with his internal analysis.

Sultry Beauty on October 22, 2009 at 5:10 PM

Every Christian should pray like crazy for Penn…he is honest and educated and thoughtful.

I get the feeling that God is quietly knocking on his heart whether or not he would admit it…we’ll see…

Ltlgeneral64 on October 22, 2009 at 5:22 PM

Note to Penn: This is your Epiphany.

wildweasel on October 22, 2009 at 5:42 PM

Standing in ones own Truth is difficult, but oh, so liberating. Mr. Penn, sorry that you mentor and friend treated you unfairly, but do not waver in your Truth.

pjean on October 22, 2009 at 8:41 PM

I like Penn, disagree with him on many points and never cared that much for his act but I think he is a thoughtful person.

jpmn on October 22, 2009 at 9:38 PM

but shame on him for holding up such a vapid airhead as an “idol”. My god, any hobo off the street would make a better idol than that.

WWS on October 22, 2009 at 10:10 AM

The lesson here is to choose your idols with great care, and then don’t hold on to them beyond their expiration date.

RalphyBoy on October 22, 2009 at 11:08 PM