The hot new mob leader of 2009

Sometimes Beck gets out into the country and things really heat up. Bill O’Reilly’s in-studio braying is one thing; Beck’s al fresco rabble-rousing is another. The man has done as much as anyone to promote the anti-tax tea parties so fashionable this season. Here he is at the Alamo on April 15, sometimes in a 24-style split screen. With the people in the crowd bleating that American citizens are ruled by “tyrants,” he transforms himself into a funhouse mirror reflecting legitimate economic fears. Beck, of course, despises Washington, but it should be made clear that he is not strictly an Obamaphobe. In the Alamo clip, he tempers his critical analysis of the left (“the Democrats suck”) with a skeptical glance at the right (“the Republican suck”). You’ve got to admire that kind of sophistication.