P.J. O’Rourke Quotations


For those of you that don’t know, P.J. is a conservative/liberatarian, gonzo journalist who has written several books and has visited and written about almost every “hot spot” on the globe. Where ever there is crushing poverty, out of control warlords, savage violence, communism, or social unrest, eventually there is P.J. as well. P.J. also has a wicked and twisted sense of humor. That’s something you don’t often find in conservatives

“…Daniel Patrick Moynihan is the archtypical extremely smart person who went into politics anyway instead of doing something worthwhile for his country. So maybe he owes all of us an apology…” — P. J. O’Rourke

You say we [reporters] are distracting from the business of government. Well, I hope so. Distracting a politician from governing is like distracting a bear from eating your baby. — P. J. O’Rourke

“I’m a registered Republican and consider socialism a violation of the American principle that you shouldn’t stick your nose in other people’s business except to make a buck.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The whole idea of our government is this: If enough people get together and act in concert, they can take something and not pay for it.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child – miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosphy of sniveling brats.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Anything that makes your mother cry is fun” — P.J. O’Rourke

“These were people who believed everything about the Soviet Union was perfect, but they were bringing their own toilet paper.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The real slums are another matter. The bad parts of Tondo are as bad as any place I’ve seen, ancient, filthy houses swarmed with the poor and stinking of sewage and trash. But there are worse parts – squatter areas where people live under cardboard, in shipping crates, behind tacked-up newspapers. Dad would march you straight to the basement with a hairbrush in his hand if he caught you keeping your hamster cage like this.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. It’s not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It’s not an endlessly expanding list of rights — the “right” to education, the “right” to food and housing. That’s not freedom, that’s dependency. Those aren’t rights, those are the rations of slavery — hay and a barn for human cattle. There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Giving government money and power is like giving car keys and whiskey to a teenage boy” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Man developed in Africa. He has not continued to do so there.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Sen. Ted Kennedy: “And when the Reagan administration was selling arms to Iran, WHERE WAS GEORGE?” Answer: Dry, sober, and at home with his wife.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Health care is too expensive, so the Clinton administration is putting a high-powered coporate lawyer — Hillary — in charge of making it cheaper. (This is what I always do when I want to spend less money — hire a lawyer from Yale.) If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“You can’t get good chinese takeout in China and cuban cigars are rationed in Cuba. That’s all you need to know about communism.” – P.J. O’Rourke

“To grasp the true meaning of socialism, imagine a world where everything is designed by the post office, even the sleaze.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.” P.J. O’Rourke

“A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.” — PJ O’Rourke

“One nice thing about the Third World, you don’t have to fasten your seat belt. (Or stop smoking. Or cut down on saturated fats.) It takes a lot off your mind when average life expectancy is forty-five minutes.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Guns are always the best method for private suicide. Drugs are too chancy. You might just miscalculate the dosage and just have a good time.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop” — P.J. O’Rourke

“[T]he Clinton administration launched an attack on people in Texas because those people were religious nuts with guns. Hell, this country was founded by religious nuts with guns. Who does Bill Clinton think stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock? Peace Corps volunteers? Or maybe the people in Texas were attacked because of child abuse. But, if child abuse was the issue, why didn’t Janet Reno tear-gas Woody Allen? — P.J. O’Rourke

“The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The interesting thing about staring down a gun barrel is how small the hole is where the bullet comes out, yet what a big difference it would make in your social schedule.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Even very young children need to be informed about dying. Explain the concept of death very carefully to your child. This will make threatening him with it much more effective.” — P. J. O’Rourke

“How did an allegedly free people spawn a vast, rampant cuttlefish of dominion with its tentacles in every orifice of the body politic?” — P.J. O’Rourke

“One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver’s license.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“I can understand why mankind hasn’t given up war. During a war you get to drive tanks through the sides of buildings and shoot foreigners – two things that are usually frowned on during peacetime.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Politics should be limited in scope to ware, protection of property, and the occasional precautionary beheading of a member of the ruling class.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“In comparative terms, there’s no poverty in America by a long shot. Heritage Foundation political scientist Robert Rector has worked up figures showing that when the official U.S. measure of poverty was developed in 1963, a poor American family had an income twenty-nine times greater than the average per capita income in the rest of the world. An individual American could make more money than 93 percent of the other people on the planet and still be considered poor.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“It takes a lot of weapons to do good works (as Richard the Lionhearted could have told us). And this is not just a Somali problem. We have poverty and deprivation in our own country. Try standing unarmed on a street corner in Compton handing out twenty-dollar bills and see how long you last.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The free market is ugly and stupid, like going to the mall; the unfree market is just as ugly and just as stupid, except there is nothing in the mall and if you don’t go there they shoot you.” – P.J. O’Rourke

“Some earnest souls have gone so far as to aver that impeachment has distracted President Clinton from … raising taxes, destroying health care, appointing 1960s bakeheads to high political office, soliciting felonious campaign contributions, hanging friends out to dry for Arkansas real estate frauds, giving missile secrets to the Chinese, taking credit for the benefits of a free market about which he knows little and cares less, using U.S. military forces as fig leaves for domestic scandals and au pairs for the U.N., leading foreign policy back into the flea circus of Jimmy Carterism, having phone sex, groping patronage seekers, and snapping the elastic on the underpants of psychologically disturbed school-age White House interns entrusted with the task of delivering high-level government pizza.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Very little is known of the Canadian country since it is rarely visited by anyone but the Queen and illiterate sport fishermen.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Imagine a weight-loss program at the end of which, instead of better health, good looks, and hot romantic prospects, you die. Somalia had become just this kind of spa.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as “caring” and “sensitive” because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money. Well, who isn’t? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he’ll do good with his own money — if a gun is held to his head.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The second item in the liberal creed, after self-righteousness, is unaccountability. Liberals have invented whole college majors–psychology, sociology, women’s studies–to prove that nothing is anybody’s fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you’d have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Worshiping the earth is more fun than going to church. It’s also closer. We can just step off the sidewalk. And sometimes we can get impressionable members of the opposite sex to perform sacramental rites with us. “Every drop of water wasted is a drop less of a wild and scenic river, Jennifer. We’d better double up in the shower.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The morning meal was served in traditional socialist fashion – very slowly, with the courses out of order so that the jelly arrived half an hour after the toast and the coffee didn’t come until we’d called for the check. However, it was hard to be angry at a place that had ice cream, beer, and cigarettes on its breakfast menu.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The people who believe that, as a result of industrial development, life is about to become a hell, or may be one already, are guilty, at least, of sloppy pronouncements. On page 8 of Earth in the Balance, Al Gore claims that his study of the arms race gave him “a deeper appreciation for the most horrifying fact in all our lives: civilization is now capable of destroying itself.” In the first place, the most horrifying fact in many of our lives is that our ex-spouse has gotten ahold of our ATM card. And civilization has always been able to destroy itself. The Greeks of ancient Athens, who had a civilization remarkable for lack of technological progress during its period of greatest knowledge and power, managed to destroy them fine.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Of course, the humans in Haiti have hope. They hope to leave.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Schneider has made a career of telling the public that the climate is going to change drastically any time now, and indeed every spring and fall he’s been right.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“It’s better to spend money like there’s no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there’s no money.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“When government does, occasionally, work, it works in an elitist fashion. That is, government is most easily manipulated by people who have money and power already. This is why government benefits usually go to people who don’t need benefits from government. Government may make some environmental improvements, but these will be improvements for rich bird-watchers. And no one in government will remember that when poor people go bird-watching they do it at Kentucky Fried Chicken.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“Never Refuse Wine. It is an odd but universally held opinion that anyone who doesn’t drink must be an alcoholic.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“If we’re going to improve the environment, the first thing we should do is duck the government. The second thing we should do is quit being moral. Screw the rights of nature. Nature will have rights as soon as it get duties. The minute we see birds, trees, bugs, and squirrels picking up litter, giving money to charity, and keeping an eye on our kids at the park, we’ll let them vote.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The founding fathers, in their wisdom, devised a method by which our republic can take one hundred of its most prominent numbskulls and keep them out of the private sector where they might do actual harm.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“There’s a lot of debate on this subject – about what kind of car handles best. Some say a a front-engined car, some say a rear-engined car. I say a rented car. Nothing handles better than a rented car. You can go faster, turn corners sharper, and put the transmission into reverse while going forward at a higher rate of speed in a rented car than in any other kind.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“The college idealists who fill the ranks of the environmental movement seem willing to do absolutely anything to save the biosphere, except take science courses and learn something about it.” — P.J. O’Rourke

“A woman should dress to attract attention. To attract the most attention, a woman should be either nude, or wearing something as expensive as getting her nude is going to be.” — P.J. O’Rourke

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