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Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  2,351 ratings  ·  154 reviews
Called "an everyman's guide to Washington" (The New York Times), P. J. O'Rourke's savagely funny and national best-seller Parliament of Whores has become a classic in understanding the workings of the American political system. Originally written at the end of the Reagan era, this new edition includes an extensive foreword by the renowned political writer Andrew Ferguson - ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 7th 2003 by Grove Press (first published May 30th 1991)
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This was probably my 1st O'Rourke book. (Maybe second, actually, after "CEO of the Sofa".) I finished the book, put my hands in my head, and despaired of my career. I could never write like this. I wasn't fit to write a review about this. Not on Amazon, not in my own diary. In fact, I should never write again, ever, to self-mute my ineptitude in the face of such captivating style. Mr. O'Rourke was witty and cutting and brilliant and hysterical. And something else: a libertarian. This, more than ...more
William Cline
This book started off somewhat weakly, and I almost put it down without finishing. The first few chapters are a tour of the federal government, including all three branches and some of its political landscape (e.g., party conventions). To someone who reads the newspaper regularly and has a modest cynical streak (hello), there is nothing enlightening here. O'Rourke's observations mostly had me sighing and shaking my head ("Tell me something I don't know.") rather than laughing or learning.

The cha
4.0 stars. While written in the early 90's during the beginning of the first Bush administration (George, Sr.), this book is still surprisingly relevant today and is very, very funny. P.J. O'Rourke description of the three years he spent observing the U.S. Government in action is hysterical (and if you think too hard about it very scary). He blasts everything from the budget process, military spending, special interest groups and social security. My two favorite section was his scathing attacks ...more
This is the best non-fiction, humorous book I've ever read. I recommend to everybody. You CANNOT discuss farm policy without first reading the chapter on "Agriculture. Or how to tell your ass from this particular hole in the ground." Or the chapter when Ted Kennedy is shouting at the 88 convention, "Where was George?" and P.J. responds: "Dry, sober and home with his wife. At least he wasn't out drowning campaign volunteers."

I want to be P.J. O'Rourke when I grow up. Kinda conservative. Kinda dru
I am too young to remember much, if anything, about the American government and its dealings in and before 1991, when Parliament of Whores was published. So I appreciated how detailed a picture O'Rourke painted of Uncle Sam, twenty years the younger. But even more than the painting itself, I appreciated his ultimately setting the canvas aflame with hilarious, biting criticism.

The main thing I love about this book, and all of O'Rourke's writing, is that it's not just some uninitiated blabbermouth
This is the most devastating critique of government since H.L. Mencken, although O'Rourke is short on constructive solutions to most of the problems he exposes.
O'Rourke spent considerable time following around an unnamed congressman. O'Rourke, quite correctly, argues we get a bargain for our money. The average congressman has a budget of around $550,000 for staff, salaries, and expenses. That works out to only about $1.00 per taxpayer in his district. That's pretty cheap considering all the grip
Aug 11, 2010 Vincent rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: reporters
I am fairly sure I remember reading this 15 years ago and thinking it was not very interesting - a not very subtle attempt to recreate the style of Hunter S. Thompson but in the voice of a conservative.
O'Rourke begins by thanking all the usual suspects of the conservative movement in DC - like wacky Dana Rhorabacher and Chris Cox, who left Congress to run the SEC into the ground.
His book is divided into sections that look at the legislative, executive and judicial branch. Each time, he is drippi
I have to read PJ O'Rourke's Parliament of Whores every year just to keep myself grounded when I ponder politics. Too many potlickers out there wanting to get elected to office, or already in office, or railing against gubmint handouts and getting mad when they get laid off from their government jobs and too many people willing to say, hey, you've got money, let the government have it and boy howdy it'll fix things right up because the government can do everything right.

I'm not a libertarian as
Melissa Proffitt
It's funny to read a 25-year-old book on American politics in its British edition. Was there a huge demand for this, in England? At this point (the 25-year-old point) the book reads like political history, interesting for its window back on the 1988 US Presidential election, from the perspective of someone who makes his living skewering people. Most interesting to me is the final chapter, in which O'Rourke recounts a town meeting from his hometown (which is barely big enough to deserve to be cal ...more
Chris Watkins
I'm giving up on this book. PJ O'Rourke has good moments, but this is 20% insight, 20% humor of sorts, & 60% facetiousness. (I was going to write "stupidity" - but it's more the lack of an attempt to understand that bothers me, and O'Rourke isn't actually a fool).

I did skip ahead, and it improved, but not enough to make me want to read the whole thing, when there are better things to read. I do want to check out his book on Adam Smith though: "On The Wealth of Nations (Books That Changed the
The author does a fine job of showing how each part of the government works as a separate part and as a whole sucking off of the other parts. Lots of humor and some fortune telling thrown in make this a very good read. I like when he explains the budget and how all of the entitlements people constantly clamor for are sending the U.S into bankruptcy. And he even explains how only a complete idiot could fall for such a dumb ass thing as a National Healthcare System as this would create a major suc ...more
Joe Faust
O'Rourke's classic about the "workings" of government is just as funny and relevant as when it was written 20+ years ago. Only the names and dollar amounts have changed.
Sarah Arnette
So, here is a question. How angry do you want to get when you read a book? Do you want to feel fury and betrayed? Yes? Well, curl up with this one. Once you realize that it was written in 1991 and that the issues discussed are the EXACT same issues being discussed now, you will understand what I mean.

Don't get me wrong, I am certainly not saying that O'Rourke is right with his assessment of the United States Government. I disagree with him on a large number of topics. What I am saying is that t
Conrad Heibel
You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll demand a voter recount. This book holds up even after several readings. O'Rourke is on top of his game.
Raegan Butcher
This is a review of the book, not the audio book. Still, funny deconstruction of that monstrous behemoth, the useless American Government.
P.J.'s best. The idiocy of Washington dissected in a funnym funny way.
Chuck Russo
I love PJ O'Rourke, and this is a great book.
Velimir Randic
Although writing on the problems of an ineffectual government from the perspective of 1989, it is amazing how much things HAVEN'T changed. The US still tends to throw it's military weight around without understanding the subtleties of foreign cultures. There's a chapter on foreign policy that deals specifically with the double-dealing of various tribal groups in Afghanistan, in 1989 the Russians were on the receiving end of this, now we are. Budgets and what to do about increasing medical coasts ...more
Darryl Mexic
Pithy, humorous, cynical, factual and troubling, “Parliament” explores Congress and the U.S. Government as of the early 1990’s. Neither Republicans nor Democrats are spared the acid pen of O’Rourk as he skewers and makes fun of Congress, our drug policy, our foreign policy, defense policy, Dept. of Agriculture, special interest groups, and us for allowing it all. Mostly he attacks the way our government spends money. (I would think O’Rourk’s head would explode, if it has not already done so, up ...more
Aug 06, 2011 Jack added it
Shelves: comedy
O'Rourke is funny, but his humor is not dynamic. His political criticism is at times insightful, but for the most part unsophisticated and blunt, and his jokes often fall short because of this bluntness. He gives a pretty generic libertarian critique of government, ranting against government inefficiency without giving a viable alternative. He rails against the farm bill, entitlements, elderly monopolization of politics, environmentalists, and points out various absurdities in the government. Hi ...more
Originally published in 1991.
I read the 1992 Vintage Books paperback edition.

Dated but still has teeth.

P.J. O'Rourke goes after the ridiculousness that is the federal government with his trademark irreverent style in this 1991 book. Some of the commentary is dated (lots of talk about the forgettable 1988 presidential election with Republican George H.W. Bush going against Democrat Michael Dukakis. Also, the first one I voted in) but some of it is incredibly relevant. For example, the story of th
David Sarkies
I read this book quite a while ago. I remember seeing it in my local library, thinking that it looked pretty good, and decided to read it. At this time in my life I was pretty cynical about government, but in that generally uneducated type of way where we look at the politicians, think 'they really don't care about us' and label them all as jerks. I also remember the time as I was living in a swing seat and there was an election coming up, and I kept on receiving letters from both parties telli ...more
I may not completely agree with O'Rourke's politics, but he is outstandingly funny. This sharp wit is merciless in his taunting of almost every institution in America, even making jokes about the Supreme Court, the Disability Act, and the AIDS Memorial Quilt. It's safe to say you are a stickler for political correctness, this is not a book for you. O'Rourke is also lovely in that he's conservative, but refreshingly thoughtful and moderate about the world around him. Much of the essay is journali ...more
P.J. O'Rourke has the same political acuity as people like George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Thomas Sowell. He also has a funny vein so deep and rich that it seems endless. When his combines these two things you have some of the most razor-sharp political and cultural writing and humor ever to come along since Will Rogers, but using all the language mother washed your mouth out with soap for using. The result is uproariously funny.

Now, a conservative, O'Rourke refers to himself as "a former lon
I'd say this one's a solid 3.6. It was published nearly two decades ago so the info is dated (and so, apparently, am I. Woe is me) but a lot of PJ's observations are still pretty spot-on. The author is a funny guy. At times he gets a little absorbed in his own cleverness, but the comic vanity wasn't ridiculously frequent and there were at least a few genuine laugh out loud moments for me. And that's not an easy thing to accomplish since I am by nature more of a silent chortler. I especially enjo ...more
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Peter rock
I prefer to call them a parliament of street walkers or hookers.. or even "strawberry ho's" or for that matter escorts that are not in it for the money they just like to fuck. i call the senate the "john" the supreme court the "pimp" and the congress the happy hooker.. but then again i read this piece of literary trash when i was working on wall street in new york whiled i was a certified financial advisor for CNA insurance and underwriters my client was john k weber ... now john k weber is a ba ...more
I think this is the book that enabled me to let go of my abiding affection for O'Rourke. Yeah, it's been a long time since his Lampoon days, and he now comes across to me as something of a Grumpy Old Man. If your schtick is "no one but me thinks rationally about these things" it's going to get tired. And, ore importantly, it stops being humor.
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect Page Count for ISBN 0679737898 2 159 Oct 21, 2013 05:05PM  
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P. J. O’Rourke was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, and attended Miami University and Johns Hopkins. He began writing funny things in 1960s “underground” newspapers, became editor-in-chief of National Lampoon, then spent 20 years reporting for Rolling Stone and The Atlantic Monthly as the world’s only trouble-spot humorist, going to wars, riots, rebellions, and other “Holidays in Hell” in more tha ...more
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Holidays in Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels to the World's Worst Places and Asks, "What's Funny About This" Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics All the Trouble in the World Give War a Chance: Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind's Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice, and Alcohol-Free Beer Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut

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“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.” 29 likes
“It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.” 10 likes
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