Glenn Beck: The end of America is nigh, maybe

Even before watching this, if you’d asked me which media star’s most likely to turn survivalist, move to the mountains, and start doing his show from a lead-lined bunker, there’s no doubt what the answer would have been. There’s something “off” about Beck in a way that’s not true of other chat-show hosts, although that’s not necessarily a criticism: O’Reilly and Hannity can be tiresome in more than small doses but this guy I find watchable even at a stretch. Partly it’s the sheer bravado of the performance, partly it’s the challenge of trying to figure out what’s going on in his head to make him the way he is. As big an audience as he has, I’m surprised it’s not bigger. He’s one of a kind.

I’m giving you all three segments from yesterday’s show; if you’re only up for one, stick with number three. Nothing they’re saying is terribly implausible, frankly — except maybe the idea that in five years NYC will look like Mexico City or Baghdad — but because the tone of Beck’s show is always somewhat febrile, it’s hard to know how seriously to take any of it. Segment two, at least, is very serious indeed. If you’re hungry for dessert afterwards, try his appearance on Fox & Friends yesterday morning to promote this show, in which he talks about his hands shaking and frightens Gretchen into hiding under the couch. Like I say, one of a kind.

Update 2/22: A couple of lefty readers e-mailed to ask if I find any of this crap credible. Answer: No, except for the scenario sketched out in segment two about Iran targeting Saudi oil installations in the event of regional war. That’s why I singled it out as serious. I should have been more careful, though, in saying that nothing here is terribly implausible, which I wrote with the inflation bit at the beginning in mind. Segment three certainly is implausible; when I said it’s the one to watch, it’s because it’s nutty and most emblematic of that “lead-lined bunker” mentality. Apologies if that was ambiguous. I’m not stocking up on canned goods, I promise.