To write America, You Sexy Bitch, conservative bombshell Meghan McCain and liberal goof-off Michael Ian Black traveled around the country for a month in a stinky, run-down RV.
During their trip, the twosome fired guns with McCain's family in Sedona and interviewed a slew of people, including exotic dancers in Las Vegas, a Muslim Michigander, and rockers in New Orleans, in an attempt to capture the pulse of a politically polarized people in the midst of an economic downturn looking toward a presidential election.
The resulting read is a Hunter S. Thompson-style adventure (McCain's a self-proclaimed "groupie" of the author) that collects stories of seemingly disparate groups who, much like McCain and Black, have more in common than you might think. Jackalope Ranch talked with the famously outspoken blogger/writer/MSNBC contributor/Senator's daughter about her upcoming book-signing at Changing Hands, Black calling her bitchy, the likelihood of a President Romney, and more.
Soon you'll be back in Arizona and bringing America, You Sexy Bitch with you. What was it like traveling with Michael Ian Black for a month? It was really fun. We ended up becoming really good friends. We detail pretty explicitly in the book our ups and downs and how we got to know each other and become friends. But it ended up being a total blast. A lot of serious things were discussed, a lot of serious things happened, and we fight, but it ended up being a really great time.
Were you at all familiar with him as a comedian, apart from encountering him the few times you did, before the trip? Had you seen any of his shows? No. The only thing I knew was I Love the '70s and I Love the '80s on Vh1, which if you ever talk to him that's the thing he's least proud of. I mean, not least proud of. But he's really proud of The State and Stella. He thinks it's funny that I used to watch I Love the '70s and I Love the '80s in college. But that's where I knew him from, and I didn't really know who he was other than our short interaction when we first met.Is there anything from the trip that sticks out to you as most memorable? There were really so many amazing experiences and so many things that fully changed my mind about something having to do with politics that just opened up my perspective on how maybe I was stereotyping liberals and Democrats in a way that I didn't realize. So I would say one thing that I definitely had was my perspective changed.
What perspectives changed for you? I consider myself an open-minded person and I always had considered myself an open-minded person. But when I was on the road with Michael I realized, and he pointed it out to me, that sometimes when we would meet people and they would start talking about how much they love Obama or why they are staunch Democrats I would close off. He said that was a little bitchy. I don't think it was bitchy, but I would definitely be less engaging. So I've tried to make a conscious decision to stop doing that.
Do you feel like that's had an impact on how you look at and talk about politics? In the beginning, when I talked about politics I definitely feel like I was falling into stereotypes that I didn't even realize. More than that it's impacted my interactions with people socially. I want to be able to listen to other people's ideas and be all about compromise and trying to find middle ground. But if I can't get past my own stereotypes then it's not going to work. That was the big lesson I got from doing the book.
That's interesting because I feel like a lot of people see you as a relatable person. Do you feel that? I think that I'm really honest about the kind of life I lead and I'm not trying to hide anything. I'm not trying to be a perfect person. I think the idea of perfection in politics is very dated -- a very early '90s way of viewing things. I live my life so openly. Any time I'm asked about anything I always give an honest answer, no matter how uncomfortable, because I'd rather just be honest. It's who I am. I'm a terrible liar. I never lie. I'm being who I am and people seem to have responded to that.
Does that affect your personal life? Yes. It's so funny. I was just talking to a good friend about this. When it comes to dating, I find it to be a lot of game playing and, you know, not letting the person know how you feel, playing it cool. But I'm such a terrible game player. If I like someone I just want to tell them I like them. But it's all about playing it cool and waiting three days. So, definitely, when it comes to dating, my personality doesn't seem to mesh very well with dating.How different is dating in New York from dating in Arizona or L.A.? I find Arizona guys more attractive in general. I love cowboys and guys who wear white T-shirts and jeans. I love that look. I have a soft spot in my heart for anyone from Arizona.
How does your honesty impact your relationship with your parents? Do you and your dad clash over things you say? You know, gay marriage has really been the only thing that there's been a big clash about. And it's not so much that we fight about it. Personally I don't like to go home and talk about politics. He doesn't want to go home on his time off and talk about politics. It has sort of become this thing where we've been pitted against each other and I think it's a generational difference between younger Republicans and older Republicans. I understand, but I don't like anything that turns into a battle between me and my parents because I'm very close to my father and I love him. He's really supportive of me and my career.
People read your blog and see you on MSNBC, and you're part of a prominent political family. How do you think you fit into the bigger picture of the Republican Party? I always say that I'm a young voice, and I'm not the young voice -- because a lot of young conservatives get angry at that. There's a lot of young people who are extremely conservative, don't believe in gay marriage, and are Mike Huckabee Republicans. They don't like me at all. I'm just trying to be a perspective on what I believe is a more modern take on the Republican Party. The party is going to evolve or it's going to die. We keep losing elections. We keep, in my opinion, making the wrong decisions when it comes to social issues. It's really alienating young people.
Out of college I never thought this was what I was going to do -- ever [laughs]. But I joined my father's campaign. I started writing and everything kind of snowballed and grew, and I just kept working and kept getting more attention. I think I got attention because I was being honest about how conflicted I was about being a young Republican. When it comes to social issues: I'm not abstinent, I'm not a virgin, I'm not married, and I believe in gay marriage. That shouldn't negate all of the other things I believe about the Republican Party.How would you define your political stance? Would you say you're a bit of a Libertarian? I would say I'm a socially liberal Republican. There are things about my politics that do sway Libertarian. My problem with libertarianism is that it's a little too extreme for me. I do believe in needing some government. I'd be open to a Libertarian candidate if a feasible, interesting one that I felt could win any election came into play. But I wouldn't call myself a strict Libertarian. I do believe in some government.
Do you have any predictions for how this presidential election will play out? I hope Romney will win. I think it's 50-50 right now. I think, if the economy keeps spiraling the way it has, then there's a really good shot that Mitt Romney will win. He still has a fight in front of him and whoever he chooses for his vice president is going to play a major role as well.
What's your take on Romney overall? Do you think he's relatable enough? I do. But you're talking to the wrong girl. I don't like the idea that in America success and wealth automatically make you not a real or three-dimensional person. I would love it if he would speak off the cuff more... With this election we're not having an interesting discussion because the candidates are so fearful of saying anything that might be turned into something bigger. I wish he would be a little more feisty and get in Obama's face more. There's still a lot of time left for him to pick up a lot of votes. My father has an entirely different style than Romney. And obviously I prefer my father's style, but it gets him into trouble sometimes.
Do you think that this book will impact or play into the election at all? Was that a goal going into it?
You know, it's called America, You Sexy Bitch. It's fun. It's campy. It's ridiculous. We smoke pot in the book. We interview strippers. It's meant to be a book for people who aren't that into politics. I'm not interested in people who are political junkies working and living in the Beltway because I don't fit in with those people.
I really want young women to know that if you haven't memorized the Constitution, you didn't major in political science, and you don't watch C-SPAN every day that doesn't mean you can't have a voice and an opinion and be interested in this subject. I just want to make it fun and accessible. I'm not trying to win a Pulitzer. I'm not trying to host a Sunday news show. I have a different style and I think it has its place.