Conservatives aren’t supposed to be funny. According to the elites, we can’t be, what with our brains so full of racism, misogyny, and greed. Thankfully, no one told this to author Bob Smiley, whose debut novel Don’t Mess with Travis is one of the year’s best, and arguably the most stinging work of political satire since Christopher Buckley’s Boomsday.
Set against the backdrop of present day America (debt-laden, divided, and at the mercy of a progressive president), Don’t Mess centers on Ben Travis, a no-name senator from the Lone Star state who becomes governor when the reigning governor and lieutenant governor drive off the only cliff in Texas.
Travis isn’t in power twenty-four hours before the country’s most controversial radio host tips off the governor to the next great White House power grab: the nationalization of oil, gas, and water.
Faced with the prospect of watching Texas’s largest source of wealth be distributed among the other forty-nine states, Travis calls a special session of the state legislature. He’s hoping he can convince them to nullify the executive order; but Travis, a born salesman, gives such a rousing speech that they vote to secede instead.
What follows is a laugh out loud, thrilling page turner that pits Ben Travis and a memorable cast of allies against the president, the attorney general, the media, the unions, and every liberal elite who can’t believe that someone has the audacity to say NO to Washington D.C.
Still, Don’t Mess with Travis is more than just comedy. Smiley has done his research, and effectively fills out the story with history and insight along the way. From the failed French colonization of Texas in 1685 to Abraham Lincoln’s final Texas vote tally in the 1860 presidential election – zero! – readers may be surprised at what they learn in between laughs.
And yet, no one should be surprised. Smiley began his career as a research assistant to William F. Buckley Jr. before transitioning to a successful comedy writing career in Hollywood. In Don’t Mess with Travis, Smiley has taken those disparate life experiences and blended them into a smart, witty, and supremely relevant election year read that will appeal not only to conservatives, but to anyone who is fed up with the current state of the union.
As Ronald Reagan displayed for eight years and Jon Stewart continues to show us five nights a week, in the modern world of politics there may be no more valuable a weapon than that of having a sense of humor and knowing how to use it. Sacred cows on the left ... beware.