Why Penn Jillette Likes Glenn Beck

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Penn Jillette (the larger, louder half of the magician duo Penn and Teller) has a healthy side-career as an opinionated, cerebral writer touting libertarianism and atheism. Though hardly a right-wing icon, he's also made a handful of appearances on Glenn Beck's show. In a fascinating interview at BigThink, the pro-abortion magician explains why:

He's a nut. I mean, he's a deep, deep nut. On a one-on-one level I like him. My tolerance for crazy people is I think high a tolerance as you're ever going to find. I love being around David Allen Coe. I would have loved to hang out with Tiny Tim. I can listen to Sun Ra on a tape-recording rant. I have... it's not patience, it's love for people who are... live outside the law. And Glenn Beck is that.

Jillette insists that the reason he comes on Beck's show is not to endorse his ideas (though he admits that's a side effect) but to argue:

When I went on Glenn Beck I argue with him about gay rights. I argue with him about Mormonism. I agree with Glenn Beck on a few things, those aren't the things I talked about when I went on the show. I went on in order to argue. ... I know he's a good guy and even when Glenn Beck says stuff that's reprehensible I say, "I sat in a room with Glenn. He's not trying to kill people. He's not hurting children. He's just thinking and sometimes he's thinking half-assed." I do think he's sometimes taken out of context but I think that's also part of his job and it's okay.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.