Let's Read The Overton Window pt. 8: You Have The Right To Remain Cliched

Noah wakes up from truncheon-induced unconsciousness to find himself in the back of a van with Molly and a bunch of other people.

He opened his eyes, and found her looking down at him.

It's always seemed awkward to me to open a chapter without using the characters' names. There's only one viewpoint character in the book, but even still.

His head was resting in her lap, and Molly held him steady as the crowded police van bumped and jostled along the patchy downtown streets.

Police van?

Wait, how does Noah know they're in a police van? He was unconscious when he was brought there, and he's currently inside the van. The way this is written makes it seem like he's reacting to the preceding narration, like he's Deadpool and he knows he's in a novel.

The van arrives at a police station and Noah is yanked out of the van, marched to a holding cell and promptly shut inside. Isn't there, like, a process to this? Where they search people for weapons or drugs and fill out forms and things?

The pen he was locked in was one of several lining the hall; the total census must have been over three hundred. These were all men, of course; the women were taken elsewhere.

Seriously? There's three hundred men in there, and maybe as many women? How big is this police station? Is that actually realistic for big-city American stations? The one in my town has two whole cells, but then I don't live in Manhattan. 

Most of the people seemed stunned into brooding silence but some inmates were belligerent: shouting, picking fights, taunting the guards, or calling out for their lawyers, their mothers, or any other savior within earshot.

I believe you do have to allow prisoners access to legal counsel if they request it, but the police in Becklandia seem to have dispensed with the whole "due process" thing. Which makes me wonder why the bad guys need their whole conspiracy to begin with, it seems like they're halfway to a police state already.

After a time he saw something that he couldn’t begin to understand; he must have been mistaken. The man from the back of the tavern, the one with the gun, was being escorted from an adjacent cell. He wasn’t in handcuffs or restraints of any kind. He was just walking along with the officers toward the exit.

Mister Police, you're going to have to do a lot better than that to cover up your villainous plan. All of this would be recorded on the mobile phones that the author once again seems to have forgotten about (and which the police don't appear to have confiscated). Hell, we were just told there's a bunch of reports outside the station; wouldn't they spot this guy waltzing out? It wouldn't take long for a witness to identify him as the shooter, and then the police would have some explaining to do.

Noah's name gets called, and some officers identify him.

It was his gold class ring from Riverdale Country School that seemed to cement the positive ID.

Apparently Noah went to school with Archie and Jughead.

I couldn't resist making that joke, but apparently this is a real school in the Bronx. I assumed it was in here because Glenn Beck has some sort of connection to it, but if there is one, I can't find it. It seems like the sort of school that conservatives tend to be deathly afraid of, so maybe the point is that Noah is a sheeple because he's a product of wishy-washy liberal education.

The sergeant tells Noah that his attorney is on his way. I'm almost certain this isn't how any of this works. Wouldn't Noah have had to request a meeting with his lawyer? I think Beck got all his knowledge of police procedure from watching Law and Order.

Noah gets brought into an office, where another officer reads him his Miranda rights. Now this, I believe, is accurate; officers don't actually tend to do the whole "you have the right to remain silent" thing as they're cuffing someone.

The officer tells Noah that he's being charged with "inciting a riot, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault on a police officer." They have a witness who claims Noah hit an officer with a nightstick. This is also, unfortunately, pretty true to life, in that cops in America can apparently charge you with assaulting them if you so much as look at them sideways, although they tend to target poor people of colour and not wealthy PR firm executives.

Before Noah can respond to any of this, his family's expensive lawyer barges in and does the whole "stop answering questions, release my client this instant" song and dance that you've seen on TV a bunch of times. He takes Noah to another room, and Noah spots something curious out the window.

In this surreal gathering was every heckler, every troublemaker who had made himself apparent during the speeches at the bar. Every one of them was dressed similarly, the differences being confined to the inflammatory slogans on their clothing and their selection of cracker-chic accessories.

Glenn, my dude. You're making this too easy on the heroes. If the conspirators are this inept, how am I supposed to take them seriously as a threat? The only way this plan could possibly work is if the entire justice system of New York has already been totally compromised by the bad guys. Which it isn't meant to have been yet--the nukes haven't gone off, a state of emergency hasn't been declared.

It looked like the after-party of a Larry the Cable Guy stunt-double audition at Central Casting.

There's a timeless reference if ever I saw one.

“Okay,” Charlie sighed. “Let’s sit down and talk about this, Dillinger.”


“Correction. You stay quiet and let me talk to you.”

I could swear I've seen this exact exchange on that one cop show. You know the one, with lawyers in it.

Charlie the lawyer says that he called in some heavy duty rich-guy favours to get Noah off the hook (another unfortunately realistic point). Noah tries to tell him that the entire riot was a police conspiracy. Charlie doesn't buy it--which is fairly understandable--but Noah digs his heels in and Charlie reluctantly agrees to look into his claims.

So what prompted this sudden change in Noah's perspective? Why is he now trying to stand up for justice? He knew about all the shady things his company was involved with before, and his attitude was that there was no point fighting it. Why has he changed his mind? The book doesn't say.

The next chapter finds Noah free. His lawyer managed to get in contact with some police officers who weren't down with the whole "conspiracy to imprison innocent people" thing (#NotAllCops), and after some phone calls all the charges were dropped.

Again, this seems too easy. The bad guys can be foiled by a lawyer and a few phone calls? Really?

He took in a deep breath of the cold, sobering night air, right through a thin dagger of pain that jabbed hard between his ribs. It hurt, but not as though anything was permanently damaged in there; bent for sure, but not broken.

How can he tell? That pain could be one of his ribs puncturing his lung.

“Just wanted to say my thank-you,” Hollis said. If he’d still had his hat he would have been clutching it shyly in his hands.

Hollis is back! Hi Hollis!

He says he's in Noah's debt, and he's all gentle and earnest and rugged yet soft, like the rolling blue foothills at the base of the Appalachian mountains or whatever. I think Beck might have been trying to deliberately counter-act "hillbilly" stereotypes with Hollis, but he took it a few steps too far. Dude is basically Mountain Jesus.

“I’ll make a deal with you,” Noah said. “Tell me what time it is and we’ll call it even.”

The big man looked up and seemed to take a bearing on a number of celestial bodies before ciphering a moment.

I'm curious what "celestial bodies" Hollis is able to see in the middle of Manhattan, unless it's a flock of diseased pigeons.

(Also, doesn't Noah have a blackberry? Why can't he just check the time on that?)

On the way out of the station's car park, Noah encounters Molly and her mother, who finally gets a name: Beverly Emerson.

“I appreciate what you did, very much.” She gave her daughter a small motherly nudge with an elbow.

Motherly nudges, as everyone knows, are highly distinct from fatherly nudges.

Noah offers them a lift, and all three of them get into the big rich-person limo that showed up to collect Noah. He shows off a bit with all of the fancy-pants features in the car, and I'm really not sure if we're supposed to read this as a gross display of wealth or as straight-up luxury porn.

“You’ll like this,” Noah said, as he opened a center compartment by his side.

Behind the sliding door was a neat pyramid of Turkish hand towels, kept constantly warm and moist like fresh dinner rolls. With a set of tongs he passed one to each of them, and then unrolled his own and pressed the steaming cloth to his face, rubbed in the heat, leaned back, and breathed in the faint scents of citrus and therapeutic herbs. His riding companions did the same, and soon there were long sighs from across the compartment, the sounds of unrepentant indulgence, comfort, and relief.

Are they mopping their faces, or having a threesome? Those towels must be really nice.

As they drive, Beverly asks Noah about his job. He runs them through what he did the previous day, leaving out the part where he helped his dad take over the country. He talks about a politician he helped wriggle out of an ethics investigation, and Beverly blows his tiny mind with the following question, which no one has apparently ever asked him before:

“But doesn’t it bother you sometimes, Noah?”

Noah confesses that it does bother him whenever he actually stops to think about it. That secret coup his dad is planning, though? No big deal, he's basically forgotten about it already.

Beverly gets out at her hotel, leaving Noah and Molly alone. Things quickly become patriotically sexy in a low-key way, as Noah takes them to a restaurant for dinner. Along the way there's a conversation about chicken and waffles that does absolutely nothing to clarify where in "the South" Molly is actually from.

There was a scuff and a bruise on her cheek from the fight in the bar, but these marks did nothing to diminish the profile that he’d found so enchanting at first sight.

I know this is entirely unintentional, but whenever male authors mention cuts or bruises enhancing a woman's attractiveness, it always skeeves me out big time. 

When her dad was killed in an accident at the testing facility there, that’s where they stayed. Her mother then reclaimed her maiden name and started the patriot group they were both still a part of, the Founders’ Keepers, a few years later.

"Founder's Keepers" is a really dopey name for a rebel organization, unless it's like the youth wing where all the patriotic kids go to make tea-stained declarations of independence while their parents fire guns at targets shaped like Obama.

Molly asks Noah who the most fascinating person he's ever met is, and he says Bill Clinton, based mostly on his ability to lie. I guess Glenn Beck wasn't a fan.

You’d listen to him recite from the phone book for an hour and swear it was written by Oscar Wilde.

I think Noah is over-stating old Bill's gift for oration just a tad. 

“That being said, he’s also one of the most ruthless sons of bitches who ever walked the earth, and we won’t see another one like him for generations.”

I can think of a few people in office right now who might have him beat.

The conversation continues (and continues), with Molly asking Noah about his father. Instead of telling her about that one time like six hours ago when his dad launched a covert coup of the United States government, thus bringing to pass all of her darkest fears, he just blabs for ages with tons of pointless details about Arthur Gardner's academic and business achievements.

Bernays got his start in the big leagues helping Woodrow Wilson beat the drums to push the U.S. into World War I. And my father’s first project with him was a massive propaganda campaign for Howard Hunt and the CIA, along with the United Fruit Company, when they all got together to overthrow the president of Guatemala in 1954.”

Is Arthur Forrest Gump or something? Are there any historical events from the 20th Century he wasn't involved with?

“Use our own country as an example. Eighty million citizens own guns in America, you’d never win if they all started pushing back.

Yeah, but you know what they don't have? Tanks and bombs that can level an entire city block.

There's yet more blathering, where Noah goes on about the history of Public Relations and indirectly reveals how it's the source of all evil and corruption in the world. Did a PR firm murder Glenn Beck's parents or something? And why is Noah telling this person he barely knows how awesome it was when his company helped overthrow the government of Guatamala? That's some real smooth romancing right there. I can see why Noah is such a hit with the ladies.

They get to the chicken and waffle place and the chicken and waffle guy gives them their chicken and waffles (or "soul food", Noah's such a multicultural world citizen) to eat in the car, because that's the sort of thing you can do when you're rich. The Conversation That Will Not End continues, this time revolving around Noah's mother. Nothing really important is revealed, except that his mom was an idealist, she died of lung cancer when he was a kid, and Noah's dad wasn't a fantastic parent (big surprise).

“Hey.” She tapped him on the knee, and he looked up. “Would you mind if I sat over there with you?”




Molly honest to god sits in Noah's lap, because apparently that chat about taking over Guatamala made her all hot and bothered in the hoo-hoo region.

“I think I like you, too,” he said. “But I’m warning you right now, if I let down all my defenses, and then you hurt me? Well, you saw what I did to those thugs tonight.”

“Oh, no. You’ll hit me in the knee with your face?”

“Just as hard as I can.”

Whoever is coming up with these cute romantic zingers should really have just written the entire book.

Molly asks Noah to take her to his house, clarifying that she doesn't feel secure after what happened and it's not for boinking purposes.

“And I’m not talking about anything sexual.”

So our two heroes are officially in love. I have no idea what Molly sees in him, but okay.