PJ O’Rourke, the funniest American political commentator since H.L. Mencken, and one of my youthful intellectual influences, has died at the age of 74. Requiescat in pace.

American satirist and political commentator, P.J. O’Rourke, has died of lung cancer at his home in Sharon, New Hampshire aged 74. He wrote more than 20 books and was best known for his two best-sellers: ‘A Parliament of Whores’ and ‘Give War a Chance’, which reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller list.

His last book ‘A Cry from the Far Middle: Dispatches from a Divided Land’ was published in September 2020 and contained a number of essays on topics ranging from history to the political effects of social media and the ‘internet of things’.

Writing up to the the very end is a good way to go for a writer. Holidays in Hell was my favorite of his works, but most of his books were more than a little amusing. Some of his best quotes:

  • “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”
  • “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”
  • “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”
  • “Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history, mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power.”
  • “The 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.”
  • “No one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal”
  • “God created a free universe. He could have created any kind of universe he wanted. But a universe without freedom would have been static and meaningless — the taxpayer-funded-art-in-public-places universe.”
  • “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.”
  • “Foreigners may pretend otherwise, but if English is spoken loudly enough, anyone can understand it.“