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Michael: I have one. I have-- I have an appropriate one.
Aubrey: When does either one of us ever come in with one and be like, "I got it"?
Michael: Welcome Maintenance Phase, the podcast that believes diets are a matter of personal response to bootstraps.
Michael: I wonder where we're going in this episode.
Aubrey: I'm Aubrey Gordon.
Michael: I'm Michael Hobbes.
Aubrey: If you would like to support the show, you're already doing that. Thank you so much.
Michael: Today, we are combing the shelves of Aubrey's diet book collection. This is going to be the first of many such combings. According to a text message you sent last night, we're today talking about conservative diet books.
Michael: We're talking about the GOP, but it stands for Go on a Plan.
Michael: That wasn't that good.
Aubrey: The challenge here is, I don't think anybody calls a diet, a plan.
Michael: Yeah, I know.
Michael: Give me time to look at that. I'll come back.
Aubrey: So, we're normally doing a diet book deep dive. I'm calling this a diet book buffet.
Michael: A little smorgasbord.
Aubrey: You had this great idea of just doing a tour of the diet book collection and picking out a few that didn't have quite enough there there to sustain a whole episode, right?
Aubrey: As I started to look at the collection, A, that's a lot of the diet books. A lot of the diet books are, like, it's not enough for a whole episode, but it's very funny and silly, and let's talk about how funny and silly it is. As I started to look through the collection, it became clear that there were these little sub themes. Like, there are a bunch of diet books that are just about, like, the wine diet, or the pasta diet, or the popcorn diet, or the junk food diet. There's a bunch of celebrity diet books written by people who have absolutely never been fat. Why does Cher have a diet book?
Michael: Oh, yeah.
Aubrey: Okay. So, there are all these little subsets, and I thought for today, we would start out with one of those subsets, which is politically conservative diet books. And straight up, some of these people are politicians, some of them are political actors. Either way, they are folks who have been upfront about their political conservatism.
Michael: Get out the paleo. I'm going to keep doing these.
Aubrey: Get out the paleo. Good job.
Michael: And have more throughout.
Michael: So, for this one, I pulled more diet books than I used. There's one that I pulled that was called A Diet Plan for Uncle Sam.
Michael: Oh, hell yeah.
Aubrey: Yeah, let's get into this. And then it was just about federal budgets and obliterating the social safety net.
Michael: Oh. I thought it was going to be roast bald eagle and shit.
Michael: No? Unfortunate.
Aubrey: No. It was a bummer, but it was not the kind of bummer I was looking for.
Michael: Oh, a fun bummer. I know.
Aubrey: I was looking for a fun bummer and it was just a straight up bummer. There was another one that I was like, "I think this might actually be a whole episode as like an episode in two parts. One of them is the Boston police had a very popular diet book."
Michael: What? [laughs]
Aubrey: Yes. If it was popular enough, which it definitely was not, I would have been like, "We should do this on If Books Could Kill. Do you know what I mean?
Aubrey: Like, "Hang on, I'm coming over. We're doing this one because it's garbage."
Aubrey: So, today, we're going to look at three different diet books. It is a classic Maintenance Phase crescendo. So, brace yourself for things to get wilder as we go along.
Aubrey: The first diet book that we are going to look at-- Hang on. [blabber] I got to close out of everything and open up the folder of pictures of these diet books, and then I'm going to send you one of them.
Michael: Garbage obstructing progress.
Michael: Is that one?
Aubrey: I didn't see it coming.
Michael: That one has a verb.
Aubrey: Okay, Mike, I sent you a picture of the cover.
Michael: No fucking way.
Aubrey: [laughs] I got you a present.
Michael: Okay. Good God. Okay. So, it's The I Love America Diet by someone named George Phyllis and Bill Adler. And the cover is like this bright Rubik's Cube red with a nice swirly wedding invitation font. It says I Heart America and the heart is an image of a Barbie doll woman." It's a woman, like, blonde, white, gleaming teeth. Yeah. Whenever I see republican imagery like this, I'm just ready for a fucking horror show. I'm sure she's nice.
Michael: This is a red flag.
Aubrey: The Barbie doll woman is George Phyllis. It is the author of the book ostensibly.
Michael: Not nice?
Aubrey: Her career started as the winner of Miss America. She went on to become a sports reporter and a news reporter.
Aubrey: At the time that she published this book, it was her last year as the First Lady of Kentucky.
Michael: Oh, okay. Yeah. She has a Miss America news anchor lady kind of look.
Aubrey: Technically, the title of the book is The I love America Diet, but every time they do the heart, so I'm only calling it The I Heart America.
Michael: Yes, obviously.
Aubrey: I feel about this like, I feel about, like, so I live in Portland, Oregon. There are Nike bikes that you can use all around town. Many cities have just bikes that you can pick up and use. Ours are provided by Nike. Nike has a store in town called Nike Town, as it does in a number of places. On the side of the bikes, it says Biketown, but my brain always reads it as Bikey Town.
Michael: Bikey Town. Same. Whenever I'm in Portland, I'm like, "I guess, it's a Bikey Town bikes.
Aubrey: I feel similarly about this, which is, look, I could try to rewire my brain to read that as The I love America Diet, but it's always going to be The I Heart America Diet with the Barbie doll lady in it.
Michael: Also, ton of people, TSA pre-check?
Michael: How it's like pre dash and then a check emoticon. But everyone ignores that, so they'll just say like, "I have TSA pre."
Aubrey: [giggles] This is where I fully turn into that fucking TikTok about us, where I'm like, "This week, I thought we'd go light," and I ended up with 11 pages of notes.
Michael: [laughs] I think about that TikTok all the time. [laughs]
Aubrey: I'm like, "They really nailed it." I know because of the amount of personal embarrassment I feel when I catch myself doing those behaviors.
Michael: Yeah, called out.
Aubrey: Called out. So lovingly, but absolutely called out.
Michael: I know. We appreciate you, and we're wildly self-conscious now.
Michael: And we're mortified.
Aubrey: Okay. So, George Phyllis with this book, joins the pantheon of lifetime thin people with the God damn audacity to write a diet book.
Michael: Oh, yeah. Look what I did.
Aubrey: Miss America wrote a diet book. Okay.
Michael: Yeah. This is how I became symmetrical [unintelligible [00:07:10]
Aubrey: Yeah. [laughs] Her co-writer and I would guess the main writer of this book is Bill Adler, whose bio just says like, he's a literary agent and a writer, and he coauthored The I Heart NY Diet, which I also have.
Michael: Is that just a bunch of pizza slices and sewer rats?
Aubrey: Step one, former rat king with other rats.
Michael: Future, Maintenance Phase, bonus app.
Aubrey: This book was published in 1983. So, it's exactly as old as I am. It was published again in her last year as First Lady of Kentucky, and it was blurbed by one million med school professors.
Aubrey: We will get into why that is momentarily. The main thing that we are going to focus on for this book in particular is the description on the flap of the book jacket.
Aubrey: Because it really does encapsulate. I skimmed the whole book and I was like, "No, actually, I think the strongest text to look at is the actual pitch that they're making to readers." We're going to go through bit by bit. We're not going to do the entire thing, because it's longer than it needs to be, but we are absolutely going to talk through the first couple of paragraphs of it.
Michael: Okay. Putting on my bifocals.
Aubrey: There you go.
Michael: It says, "This is a diet for sensible Americans like you and me. It's safe, it's sound, it's sure. Of course, it works, because it's based on the official recommendations of US government agencies. It's like no other diet you've ever been on or heard of before." Doubtful. "Because it's not just a diet. It's an integrated three-way program that permits you for the first time in your life, to take control of your weight destiny. It tells you what to eat. It tells you how to eat. It tells you the ways, TO BEAT FAT WITH WORKOUTS, anybody can do."
Aubrey: It's not just a diet. It tells you what to eat. It tells you how to eat. It tells you what workouts to do. You're describing a diet.
Michael: God, it's such boilerplate, this stuff.
Michael: It's like, "This is nothing else. We're going to tell you to eat less and move more."
Aubrey: It was really striking to me to be looking at something, again that is my entire lifetime ago and be like, "Oh, this is new marketing. Every diet is doing this same thing, which is just like, they're all like, 'We're not like the other girls. We're different.'"
Michael: It is fascinating how five minutes after the first diet, there was the first diet being like, "We're not a diet. We know diets don't work."
Aubrey: Are you ready for our next chunk of the description?
Michael: Give on programs.
Michael: That one doesn't really work.
Aubrey: No. [laughs]
Michael: Sorry. Yes, I'm ready. Sorry. [laughs]
Aubrey: Okay. So, I'm sending you the next chunk of the description.
Michael: AND THERE'S A FABULOUS BONUS SENTENCE CASE. "You can be healthier than you are. You can live longer with increased vigor. That's because you'll be following the US Federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recent scientific breakthrough praised by doctors everywhere. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports asks a strong, vital America depends on physically fit Americans. Can we depend on you? If you love America, the answer is yes. It's patriotic to be trim and healthy." Ooh.
Michael: Problematic through lines in this little paragraph.
Aubrey: I picked this one out because I was like, "Ooh, cameos."
Aubrey: We've got the President's Physical Fitness test. We've also got the US Federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which came up so much in our food pyramid episode. They are the basis of the food pyramid.
Michael: Food triangle. But yes.
Aubrey: Also, we've got those guidelines being praised by doctors everywhere, which like, they weren't even really praised by doctors within the USDA.
Michael: The guidelines, doctors everywhere said, eh, about.
Aubrey: [laughs] Then we've got this absolute fucking bananas shoehorning in of like, "Real patriots are thin."
Michael: Yeah, dude. It's weird that they're saying it this explicitly. Usually, it's between the lines.
Aubrey: I was reading this one and I was like, "This is pure camp?"
Michael: Yeah, I know. This is the problem with this is, it's hard to be offended by it. It's so weird and surreal.
Aubrey: This description also lists out the things that you can do on this diet, which also felt really reminiscent of diets that we have heard about, talked about, all that kind of stuff. This is a list that should have bullet points in front of it, but it doesn't because I'm texting it to you.
Michael: Is the exercise plan just standing up and saluting the flag and sitting down over and over again?
Aubrey: [laughs] It's actually just like joining the military and going to boot camp.
Michael: Yeah. Just pushups?
Michael and Aubrey: Yeah.
Michael: It says, "Lose up to 11 pounds of fat a month, not water as on fad diets. Eat the kind of foods you've always loved, even ice cream. Never, never diet foods. Make the switch to lifetime stay slim habits easily, pleasantly, deliciously. Learn how to transform your favorite recipes into scrumptious, nutrition-packed slimming delights." Oh, this is very similar to the Scarsdale diet thing where, in general, when it talks about the diet in the introduction, it's like, "You can do anything. Don't worry about being hungry, bestie." And then once you get to the specifics, it's like prisoner of war camp rations, and hours of exercise, and they just coexist peacefully.
Aubrey: Here's the thing that I would say about this particular diet is, like, normally, I'm like, "Yes, that is the pattern." In this case, it is USDA and FDA guidelines that they're operating off of. So, it's less of that, just like, you get one ounce of cheese every week. Enjoy it, savor it while you can, like it's less of that. It reads much more any number of 1980s low fat or low-calorie diet meal plans. A bunch of the meal plans, they're like, "Most nights for dinner, you're getting a whole baked potato, plus a protein, plus a cup of vegetables," because it's essentially a diet book that was created to popularize public nutrition guidelines, right?
Aubrey: So, it's not completely off the rails. The fascinating thing to me is that they include a small number of recipes, and the recipes that they include seem fine. They don't seem like bad recipes to me, but I am confused as to how these ones made the top of the list.
Aubrey: So, they have a few dinner recipes, they've got a couple of soup recipes, they've got some dips, that kind of thing. They have a lot of recipes that seem very time limited for your use in the year. So, they have a recipe for gingerbread.
Aubrey: They have an eggnog recipe.
Michael: Festive liquids.
Aubrey: They have a recipe for something called cottage cheese dip.
Michael: Oh, no. The cottage cheese in the 1980s.
Aubrey: It was so much. Listen, Stockholm syndrome has been debunked, but I have it with cottage cheese. I continue to enjoy cottage cheese.
Michael: I have tried to get into cottage cheese so many times. I've tried. I'm like, "I want to like this. It seems fine." Every time I do it, it's like Oprah.
Aubrey: It's not for you. Yeah.
Michael: Aubrey, what if we wrote a diet book.
Aubrey: -a diet book? We've talked about this.
Michael: We did the same intro. It's like, "You can eat anything on this plan. You can move however you want to. You don't have to be hungry." And then we actually did it.
Michael: We just invited a bunch of bomb ass recipes and we were like, "You can make these, you cannot make these, you can eat-
Aubrey: "I don't give a shit."
Michael: -literally anything else, whatever portion makes you feel full and happy." [laughs] And then we just call it a diet book. It's a diet book, but it's literally just physically eat anything what you want. [laughs]
Aubrey: Yeah. Oh, my God. Listen, any excuse to get, I have this recipe for shrimp that's poached in coconut milk and ginger, but like, "It's fucking killer. I would get that out into the world."
Aubrey: The last thing I will say about this particular diet book is that, so they've got the front spread and the back spread of the book covered in blurbs.
Aubrey: Then you open the book and the first 13 pages of this book are blurbs that they absolutely should have cut.
Aubrey: As someone who just released a book, there's like, you are thinking really strategically about blurbs when you pull together a book, right?
Michael: Or, are you?
Aubrey: So, they got blurbs from killer names. One of them is from Walter Cronkite.
Michael: Oh, my God. Really?
Aubrey: I just sent it to you.
Michael: Okay. He says, "I know too well how difficult it is to reconcile good eating habits with the demands of the hectic workday. And this book appears to me to provide a practical guide that tackles this very problem." Oh.
Michael: I didn't read it. [unintelligible [00:16:50] told me about it and I'm [Aubrey laughs] just trying to do.
Aubrey: I have a hard time with managing my eating habits and I understand that this book says that it will teach me how to do that.
Michael: This is what she's asking you to do. This is like when I get asked to blurb books and I'm just like, "I will not be reading this book, but I can provide a factual quote." This was emailed to me in PDF form by John. [Aubrey laughs] John seems fine.
Aubrey: Wait, have you ever blurbed a book?
Michael: No, because I don't have any time to read because all I do is read terrible books. And then one fun book a month for book club and all those are already out in the world, so those people don't need blurbs anymore.
Aubrey: She also got a blurb from Ed McMahon.
Michael: Oh, really?
Aubrey: Just sent it to you.
Michael: It just says, "The most comprehensive diet I have ever read." What does that even mean? Comprehensive?
Aubrey: [laughs] That means, I don't know if it's comprehensive because I definitely didn't read it.
Michael: I'm tired of these fragmentary diets. I need a comprehensive diet.
Aubrey: Anyway, that's the I Heart America Diet. That's all I wanted to do is just be like-- This is very goofy. This is theme of the episode. We talked in the Goop episode about dunking on things, but making it nutritious dunking. There is no nutritional value.
Michael: No, you're not learning anything. You're not growing as a person.
Aubrey: You're not getting thiamin out of this.
Aubrey: Book two. Michael, are you ready?
Michael: Book two. Give me.
Aubrey: Book two is called The Love Diet.
Michael: Oh, The Love Diet, another heart on the cover.
Aubrey: This one's written by someone named John Dobbert. John Dobbert has written a number of other books, titles include How to improve your child's education, Give Yourself A Chance Finding Your Role in a Competitive Society, John Dobbert's first aid for marriage.
Aubrey: If Being a Christian is So Great, Why Do I Have the Blahs?
Michael: That one actually sounds good.
Michael: I also have the blahs. Maybe he has tips.
Aubrey: This one was published in 1977. The tagline for this one is, How to diet successfully using that most powerful of all motivators, love?
Michael: I'm intrigued.
Aubrey: I'm going to send you the description from the back of the cover. Get ready.
Michael: It says, "A simple but complete explanation of the catalyst, which can make any reasonable diet a resounding success. The catalyst is love. Everyone has a capacity for it. Everyone has seen evidence of its universal appeal and power. John Dobbert shows how to harness the enormous power of love to benefit dieting, the writing."
Michael: "The goal is to build a deep seated, unified inner attitude that controls the dieter's behavior. An attitude motivated out of love for the dieter himself, his friends, his family, his career, and his self-perceived purpose in life." The author shows not only how to use the love we have, but how to obtain all the love we will ever need to get slim and stay that way. Is this ChatGPT?
Michael: Attitude motivated out of love?
Aubrey: You're right to be confused by this.
Michael: Use the love we have, how to obtain the love we need to get slim. Why would I need love to get slim? I need self-hatred of the way that I look and feel. [laughs]
Aubrey: Mike, I'm going to tell you what, this is one of the books that we're talking about today where I read the entire thing cover to cover, and I am no more clear on any of the answers to any of the questions raised by this description.
Michael: God. I feel like Jordan Peterson is the one that really cracked this code. The trick to these books is to write something totally incomprehensible. Then if anyone is like, "Ah, this doesn't make any sense," then you could just be like, "It looks like somebody didn't get it."
Michael: I guess you don't understand these intellectual concepts.
Aubrey: You might be wondering, Michael, why this is on our list of books written by conservative political actors. Please enjoy the cover.
Michael: Oh, wait. What?
Michael: Oh, it took me a second. Okay. First of all, this graphic design is on point as usual.
Aubrey: [laughs] It is Microsoft Word 95. They figured out the arch function.
Michael: So, it says, The Love Diet and there's a little tagline by John Dobbert, small font, foreword by James Dobson.
Michael: The infamous Focus on the Family Prime Minister, whatever the fuck he is. But he's this anti-gay, anti-everything fun ghoul.
Aubrey: Absolutely. If there was gremlin shit being said about queer people in national politics, it was either being said by James Dobson, furnished by James Dobson, or parroted by people who were close to him. He is like the Nexus. If you're mad about Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, you're also probably mad of James Dobson. He is, again, the beating heart of a lot of this stuff.
Michael: But also very, very trim. People are always talking about his six pack, his neck veins.
Michael: People are just--
Aubrey: We'll get there.
Michael: Just a trim little man.
Aubrey: At the point that this was published, he was an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at USC. At the time, he was best known for his book, Dare to Discipline, which advocated for the use of corporal punishment by parents on kids.
Michael: I love it when they try to present this as a bold new idea. It's like finally beating kids.
Michael: That's what we've been doing for thousands of years and it's bad.
Aubrey: Also, it's 1977. So, this isn't necessarily even an idea that has gone out of vogue in the way that it has gone out of vogue.
Michael: When I think of love, I think of beating children.
Aubrey: I think of the guy who's like, "Gay people are all going to die, and it's going to be their fault. Also, beat your kids more." The Love Diet.
Michael: Yeah, I just want to make literally everyone's lives worse.
Aubrey: This was also the year that he founded Focus on the Family. So, he had his eyes on bigger things.
Michael: [chuckles] He was either become a lifestyle influencer or become anti-gay grifter, [Aubrey laughs] if only Instagram had been around back then.
Aubrey: Chapter titles for this one include, Born Again and Obese, That's an absurdity.
Michael: Oh, no. Oof.
Aubrey: Your diet must be self-imposed.
Aubrey: Group pressure is great, but at midnight, it's only you and the refrigerator.
Aubrey: Tithing food for health.
Michael: Giving away 10% of all my food. [Aubrey laughs] That's the key to losing weight. I look at a meal, and I cut off 10% of it, and I put it in the collection plate. I just saved the potatoes just in my little hand.
Aubrey: The last one is absolutely unquestionably, the darkest, which is, Am I important enough to live longer?
Michael: Oh, God.
Aubrey: Right, it gets so dark so fast.
Michael: This is the one unproblematic chapter that every diet book has.
Aubrey: It's the conclusion of Elizabeth Taylor's diet book.
Michael: Maybe everything else I say in this book is not going to make you happy.
Aubrey: So, one of my big questions in picking up this one is just like, "What the fuck does James Dobson have to say about weight loss and dieting?"
Michael: Yes. I am desperate to know this. Yes.
Aubrey: Okay. So, I read the whole foreword. There's absolutely no there-there.
Michael: Oh, really?
Aubrey: His foreword is basically just like, "I'm writing this because I'm really good at setting goals and hitting them. I'm very accomplished. But even accomplished people struggle with their appetite."
Michael: Setting goals and reaching them, James Obergefell?
Michael: [unintelligible [00:24:42] you dedicated your entire life to?
Aubrey: So, he has this introductory paragraph where he's talking about like, "I'm a very accomplished person, but even accomplished people have a hard time with this thing." And then the rest of the foreword is just two pages and it's just like, "Here's what readers can expect to find in the rest of this book. The end."
Michael: Oh, wait, really? That's also a factual Walter Cronkite one.
Aubrey: I think there's a decent chance that someone wrote most of this for him and he wrote the introductory paragraph where they were like, "You have to write about why you."
Michael: Send me the introductory paragraph.
Aubrey: Okay. So, I just sent you a picture of the first paragraph of James Dobson's foreword.
Michael: I'm so excited. "As a person who has worked long hours and carried heavy responsibilities through the years, I am well acquainted with the rigors of self-discipline and self-control. Why then, am I such a patsy when it comes to control of my appetite for food? And why are millions of Americans struggling with the same ridiculous weakness? The answers, according to John Dobbert lie in our inability to marshal the proper motivation to get thin and stay thin." This is boring.
Aubrey: Yeah, it's super boring. So, that genuinely the hook of what makes this such a notable conservative diet book is, like, the most boring part.
Michael: There's no evil genius stuff in here. It's like, "Don't you have a Thanksgiving to ruin, James?"
Aubrey: Yeah. He doesn't name check, like, Jerry Falwell or anything. It's a real bummer.
Michael: The other day, as I was shoving a child back into the closet against their will, I thought about the exercise that I needed to be stronger.
Aubrey: Boo. Okay. So, another one of my questions was just like, what the fuck does it mean for it to be the love diet?
Aubrey: The argument for the connection between love and dieting in this book is so unbelievably tenuous.
Aubrey: He just keeps saying, "Love is the greatest motivator. So, harness love as your motivation to diet."
Michael: I don't even understand what his fucking argument is. Is it like, get thin so that people will love you? Like, you'll be more successful at dating?
Aubrey: Oh, Michael, that is the thinking of someone who's operating on Love Level One.
Michael: Yeah, I paid $1.50 for this book. I want some useful advice, but I guess it doesn't even do that.
Aubrey: I found the clearest passage that I could where he's spelling out what love has to do with motivation to diet.
Michael: What's love? Okay.
Michael: Oh, he's stacking another metaphor on top of his already try hard metaphor. He says, "Love levels can most readily be compared to gears in an automobile. It is necessary to get the diet rolling just as first gear gets the car rolling. First gear, however, cannot meet the demands and conquer all types of driving. And Love level one cannot meet the demands and conquer all impediments to dietary success. Traveling in first gear for a long duration is impractical and may cause mechanical failure." Jesus Christ.
Aubrey: [laughs] That's the end of that paragraph.
Michael: Oh, that's as good as it gets?
Aubrey: [laughs] That's as good as it gets. I'm sorry. It is so funny to me to think that, I'm like, "Did any editor ever--?" [crosstalk]
Aubrey: Because it doesn't even make sense.
Michael: This is such, like, Michael Scott vibes where he's like, "Look, I'm going to break it down. [Aubrey laughs] A business has to make more money than it spends." And then draws out this extended metaphor on this extremely easy to understand concept?
Michael: Like, ooh, in levels.
Aubrey: So, can I walk you through the three love levels?
Michael: Ooh, yeah. Because now I've been in first gear and I'm experiencing mechanical failure.
Aubrey: This is normally where you would say something like, "I'm intrigued, and I appreciate that you didn't because you're not, because there's nothing to be [crosstalk] here."
Michael: I'm not. There's nothing here. But I love empty verbiage, so take me with you. [laughs]
Aubrey: Yeah, totally. According to Dobbert, according to this author, when he's writing about Love Level One, he's talking about dieting from a place of love, using your motivation-- Love is your motivation to diet, is his overarching thing. And he says that, "Love Level One is about dieting from a place of love of yourself."
Aubrey: His version of this love of self is just really similar to the concept behind Khloe Kardashian's Revenge Body.
Michael: Oh, yeah.
Aubrey: That show? Do you remember that show?
Michael: Yeah. [laughs] Only from you talking about it.
Aubrey: If you are dieting on Love Level One, if you are dieting for a love of self, here are his tips for how to get yourself more motivation.
Aubrey: He says that you should undress in front of a full-length mirror, jump up and down, and "count the seconds until the rolls settle."
Michael: Oh, my God.
Aubrey: Motivation tip number two. "Ask an honest friend to tell me how I really look."
Michael: Oh, these are mean, Aubrey.
Aubrey: Motivation tip number three. Mike, if those were too dark for you, hang on to your fucking butt.
Michael: I can't because it's jiggling too much. It's still vibrating from [crosstalk]
Aubrey: "Picture yourself confined to a nursing home as a result of sickness caused by overweight."
Michael: What? That's not even a useful tip. Just imagine myself in a nursing home?
Aubrey: Also, it has the weird 1960s, 1970s language of caused by overweight.
Michael: Oh, yeah.
Aubrey: It's just such a weird turn of phrase.
Michael: I know. It should be overweightness. People with overweightness, Aubrey. We're using people first language.
Aubrey: Michael, are you ready to hear about Love Level Two?
Michael: Love Level two. Is this caring for my family or something and then Level Three is caring for my community or some shit?
Aubrey: Stop trying to skip ahead, because you're not going to guess Level Three.
Michael: I'm trying to impose some form of coherence onto this book, which is clearly just incoherent.
Aubrey: Love Level Two is about love of the collective. He calls this the group theme. He talks about teachers being motivated by love of their students, pastors being motivated by love of their congregants, doctors being motivated by their love of patients, so on and so forth. So, he is thinking and talking about like, "Okay, what does it mean to diet from a place of love for other people?" He has some motivation tips for people who are dieting at Love Level Two.
Aubrey: I'm going to send two of those motivational tips to you.
Michael: Motivate me. He says, "Even a small weight loss causes your attitude to be one of confidence, since you know how many lives you're affecting through your dietary compliance." Aubrey, maybe this is just because I just read your book, which is coherent and nicely written. [Aubrey laughs] But this causes your attitude to be one of confidence. Like, why do you just say even a small weight loss gives you a more confident attitude?
Aubrey: The writing is so bad.
Michael: Is he being paid by the preposition?
Michael: Look closely at each child as he sleeps and examine how much he means to you, and what he would be facing if you, your love, and your earning power were suddenly gone. This is so weird. I'm gazing at myself jiggling in the mirror. I'm gazing upon my small children. It's just like, think in the most negative terms possible at all times.
Aubrey: Right. And it's like, think about what a failure you are and will be. This is the Jane Lynch meme. I'm going to create an environment so toxic.
Aubrey: That is what is happening here.
Aubrey: Michael, are you ready for Love Level Three?
Michael: I think I figured it out. I think it's going to be God.
Aubrey: Ah, fuck. Goddamn it.
Michael: Is it?
Aubrey: It's Love of God.
Michael: Dobson clued me in.
Aubrey: So, he offers some examples of what dieting at Love Level Three looks like.
Aubrey: I'm sending those to you.
Michael: Okay. He says, "If my weight is controlled and I'm healthier, I'll live longer, which gives me more time on Earth to serve my master. If I'm successful in setting an example of results in my diet, others will ask me how I succeed, and I'll witness that my God assisted me. My witness may result in a convert to my beliefs." Oh, so, I'm recruiting people to Christianity with my rippling abs.
Aubrey: Yes, yes.
Michael: People are like, "Wait a minute, Mike. None of you is jiggling in the mirror." I'm like, "Thanks, Bible."
Aubrey: He created everything, and he's also like, "Man, on this planet, full of billions of people, John's getting a little fat, huh?"
Michael: The funny thing is, as a former Christian kid, I actually think that New Testament morality is pretty lit, but nobody actually implements it. Jesus talked all the time about, "How rich people can't get into heaven and you should care the most for the weakest among you." But there's just a whole economy of fucking grifters who are like, "No, no, no, no Jesus said the opposite of what you think He said. He wants you to be rich, He wants you to be thin."
Aubrey: It is really wild that in some setting somewhere, somebody read the Bible and out the other end of whatever machine creates these people came, like, Joel Osteen.
Aubrey: "I'm the Bible." Yes?
Michael: I just want you to be hot and shitty. That's what Jesus wants.
Aubrey: Would you like to hear some motivation tips for people at Love Level Three?
Michael: He says, "Pray periodically during the day to seek assistance to overcome temptation. Pray before each meal asking assistance for appetite control, nurture the belief that failure to adhere successfully to your diet displeases God."
Michael: Woo, this is maybe false idol territory.
Aubrey: It's wild as fuck.
Michael: I've been doing some reading lately about spiritual abuse. Is this a term you've come across?
Aubrey: Uh-huh, it sure is.
Michael: It's like a lot of church leaders will use your sense of morality and your entire worldview through religion to basically get away with terrible shit for sexual harassment or exploiting you for money.
Michael: This honestly feels like a form of spiritual abuse, where he's explicitly invoking your moral and religious worldview to sell a book.
Michael: To me, the good parts of religion are just a weekly invitation for people to think about things larger than themselves, and like, "How am I doing good in the world? How am I affecting other people?" He's explicitly clawing that back. He's like, "No, Sunday morning is to think about how many sit ups you did this week."
Aubrey: "If you don't do more, you'll die and your children will never forgive you."
Michael: Yeah, exactly.
Aubrey: It's very strange for anyone with even passing familiarity with the Bible, but at the same time, there is an entire cottage industry of evangelical diet books, evangelical weight loss programs. There's a million of these. They are legion.
Michael: It's also very funny, the idea that Jesus would want you to adhere to conventional modern beauty standards, because, of course, beauty standards have changed over time. So, why would Jesus be like, "Oh, yeah, in the 1990s, I want everyone to have a long, skinny torso." Right now, Jesus wants you to have thick hips because that's where the fat is.
Aubrey: Look, Jesus reads In Touch Weekly. He pays attention to who wore it best. He has some thoughts.
Michael: Jesus says, "Bootcut is out. Skinny jeans are in."
Aubrey: Oh, buddy, I think you're behind the times now.
Michael: Is that not?
Aubrey: That's out. We're out. We're old.
Michael: I ordered a pair of skinny jeans on the internet the other day. So, that's why I'm like, "I'm on Trent. I'm a 40-year-old man. [Aubrey laughs] I know what people are doing."
Aubrey: Yeah, [crosstalk] This is what having a 15-year-old niece will do to a person.
Michael: Oh, see, you actually know what the kids are doing.
Aubrey: Because I get corrected on it.
Aubrey: What are you doing? Why are you wearing that? You're at my school and that's what you're wearing?
Michael: She's like, "Kygo has a whole song about this. You're wrong."
Aubrey: Okay. Michael, are you ready for our third and final conservative diet book?
Michael: Problematic level three.
Aubrey: This one is not actually a diet book. I will set it up that way.
Aubrey: This one is just straightforwardly a cookbook. There's no calorie counting. There's no weight loss rhetoric. There's no nothing. This one is just I thought it would be fun to yell about the existence of this book with Michael Hobbes.
Michael: Yelling about recipes. Our favorite thing.
Aubrey: I am sending [laughs] you the book cover to look at and to describe for the listener.
Michael: Oh, yeah.
Aubrey: I feel like I will hear when you get it.
Michael: Oh, what?
Michael: Wait, what?
Aubrey: Yeah. [laughs]
Michael: This exists?
Aubrey: This exists and I own it. I'm so sorry.
Michael: Holy shit. Okay. Where to begin? Wow.
Aubrey: [laughs] There's so much happening on this book cover. There's so much happening.
Michael: Okay. So, it's a man and a woman facing the camera with their backs to each other, leaned up against each other like two news anchors or something.
Aubrey: They're both wearing sleeveless Denim vests.
Michael: He is holding a rifle and she is holding some sort of terrifying looking fucking knife.
Aubrey: I think it's a hunting knife. Yeah.
Michael: Oh, like a hunting, like, stab-a-deer knife. The name of the book is, Kill It & Grill It, and it's by Ted and Shemane Nugent.
Aubrey: A Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish.
Michael: So, this is how to fucking kill animals and eat them basically. It says, "Includes a recipe for deer, elk, wild boar, rabbit, bear, wild turkey, duck, and more." I feel like bear is the odd man out there. Everything else I can get at Costco.
Aubrey: Absolutely. There are definitely bear recipes in this one.
Aubrey: Mike, what do you know about Ted Nugent?
Michael: [sighs] Wait, did he do know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em?
Aubrey: No, that's Kenny Rogers.
Michael: That's Kenny Rogers.
Aubrey: It could not be more different.
Michael: All I know is that, he's a right-wing gun dude now. But I don't know what he was before that. He's like an Elizabeth Taylor figure where it's like, I know her from the perfumes, but not from the main thing that she's known for.
Aubrey: Yeah, you know him from his appearances on Fox News and nowhere else.
Michael: Yeah. He shows up and I'm like, "This is I guess, a famous person, but he's famous to other people for reasons I don't understand."
Aubrey: We are going to listen to the opening riff of this song, which I think will get you oriented to who he is.
[riff of the song]
Michael: I've heard this.
Aubrey: Yeah, that's him.
Michael: Wait, let's wait to the beat drops.
Aubrey: Yeah. So, you get the idea?
Michael: Ted Nugent official YouTube has 192,000 subscribers?
Aubrey: Yeah, it's both higher and lower than I would expect.
Michael: There's Pokémon Reaction YouTubers who have more than that.
Aubrey: Listen, he's a 74-year-old man from Michigan, you know?
Michael: So, he's like a 1980s rocker guy? It sounds like hair metal, but then the cover of the album does not look hair metaly.
Aubrey: He is reliably described as a hard rock musician, sort of how folks describe him. 1970s, 1980s was his high point.
Aubrey: Since then, he has really seemed to make most of his career out of being a personality, which for him means astonishingly regressive, outspoken racism, proud racism, big gun advocate. He is a full disaster.
Michael: Wait. To go back to my acronym, he's a geriatric obstructing progress.
Aubrey: Okay, there we go.
Michael: I thought that one was good.
Aubrey: He was and is an extremely outspoken Trump supporter. He refused to get vaccinated for COVID and then got COVID. When he announced that he had it, he only referred to it as, and I quote, "The Chinese shit."
Michael: God. Jeez.
Aubrey: He called President Obama, "A subhuman mongrel."
Michael: Oh, my God.
Aubrey: He is, like, next level. Here's my question for you, Mike. What year do you think this cookbook came out?
Michael: Whoo. Graphic design says, I want to say 1990s actually. It looks late because there's weird, there's gradients.
Aubrey: That's a good catch.
Michael: Then the background of the image looks like one of those fucking magic eye things where you'd blur your eyes and it would be like, "Oh, my God, a dolphin." It looks like that. That's the aesthetic. And then, God, the lighting is terrible. There's weird, just a random pink light that is lighting up his hair, but not hers.
Aubrey: I think that's to be, like, it doesn't it look like stage lighting for a hard rock musician, perhaps?
Michael: It looks fake and weird. And then I'm going to be wrong, but I'm going to say 1996.
Aubrey: Ooh, you are a lot closer than I was. I assumed this was late 1980s, early 1990s.
Aubrey: This book was somehow published in 2002.
Michael: Wait, really?
Michael: I guess conservative aesthetics are a couple of years behind.
Michael: There's no Helvetica here.
Aubrey: The blurbs on this book are fully unhinged.
Michael: Is it like Ted Cruz?
Aubrey: No, you're not going to guess. It's wild. They're so wild. They're unguessable.
Michael: Oh, no.
Aubrey: [giggles] I'm sending you a blurb and then you're going to read it.
Aubrey: We're going to talk about it and then I'm going to tell you who it's from.
Michael: "What can I say about Ted that he hasn't already said himself? Ted is a true original. Whether you love him or hate him, agree or disagree with his philosophies, side with or oppose his politics, you always know where you stand with good old uncle Ted. He means what he says, and he says what he means." Hillary Clinton. Oh, interesting. Well, the twist.
Aubrey: [laughs] Not Hillary Clinton.
Aubrey: So, first of all, just tell me your take on this blurb. Like, this is a blurb for a cookbook.
Michael: It's just the whole thing of like, well, he says it like it is and like, "Well, just because he's wrong and bad, he's being authentic though." It's like the wrong and bad part is what I object to. I don't think that he's being disingenuous.
Aubrey: Yeah, totally. These are the things that you say when you can't say anything else about someone who is an asshole, right?
Aubrey: That blurb, by the way, comes to us courtesy of Joe Perry from Aerosmith.
Michael: Wait, really?
Michael: That's also a bit of a like, I-didn't-read-the-book blurb, but I'm doing this as a personal favor.
Aubrey: That's all of these. Get ready.
Aubrey: I sent you another one.
Michael: "I've known Ted for years and I can't say I always agree with him. I can't even say, I often agree with him."
Michael: He's just a huge asshole. "But I respect him for this reason. In a world where fame makes people fat and satisfied-
Michael: -Ted continues to fight for his beliefs. He loves nature, and as this book proves, page after page, he feels that living without passion is not really living. That I agree with him on wholeheartedly." Barbara Walters.
Aubrey: Mitch Albom, the dude who wrote Tuesdays with-- [crosstalk]
Michael: What? No. There's a cameo from the Tuesdays with Morrie guy?
Michael: This is also so chicken shit to just be like, "Well, I don't always agree with him."
Aubrey: I can't say I always agree with him. I can't even say I often agree with him.
Aubrey: But I respect him for continuing to fight for his beliefs, which I ostensibly find abhorrent.
Michael: This is such fucking brain disease among-- People like us, like, over educated liberals, it's like, "Well, I don't agree, but at least he's fighting for his beliefs."
Michael: But his beliefs are bad. He's fighting for things that make the world worse.
Michael: It's weird to be like, "Oh, I like it when people fight for their beliefs," regardless of their beliefs? No.
Aubrey: Listen, right now, today, Pete Evans is fighting for his beliefs, right?
Aubrey: There are plenty of people who really believe the stuff that they're talking about that we have talked on this show about, right?
Aubrey: Oh, God, Mike, I'm getting so much worse at putting together sentences. I think I've been infected by The Love Diet guy,-
Michael: Yeah. [laughs]
Aubrey: -but I'm like, "Now I only know how to say things in confusing ways?"
Michael: You have an attitude that is out of confidence [Aubrey laughs] in something.
Aubrey: There's one quote that says, "Ted Nugent is beyond argument, one of the good guys, attributed to Charlton Heston."
Michael: Look, as a piece of shit, I respect the fact that Ted Nugent is a piece of shit as well.
Aubrey: There's a page inside the book where the header is just praise for Ted Nugent.
Michael: Oh, nice.
Aubrey: It includes quotes from George W. Bush and Tom Ridge.
Aubrey: Why are politicians blurbing a wild game cookbook from a guy who-- [crosstalk]
Michael: [laughs] I feel like a total weirdo.
Aubrey: I feel like a deep weirdo who again is just proudly shouting his racism from rooftops. His biggest hit was, at this point, a solid 20 years ago.
Aubrey: Better suited to be a VH1 I Love the '80s commentator than to be anyone's presidential endorsement or what-- It's just weird. It's just weird.
Aubrey: The introduction has a title. That title is Celebrate the Flesh.
Michael: Oh, God.
Aubrey: Other notable chapter titles include Rock 'n' Roll Hogmando.
Aubrey: I like my pork pissed off.
Michael: These don't even make any sense.
Aubrey: I like my rare, but not that rare. And a chapter just called, this is two words. It's going to sound like four words. It's two words. First word, [laughs] Oh, God damn. The first word is sexfried.
Michael: What? What? Sexfried? You've melted down. We lost Aubrey.
Aubrey: It's so ridiculous. Okay, I'm pulling it together.
Michael: What kind of sex are they having on the ranch?
Aubrey: Sexfried Fishslab.
Michael: Sexfried Fishslab. It's like one of those things they say as a vocal warm up before you go on stage, Sexfried Fishslab.
Aubrey: Unique New York.
Aubrey: Yeah. Red leather, yellow leather, Sexfried Fishslab. [laughs]
Michael: Man, I'm trying to piece this together backwards. So, it's like, "I have a slab of fish, and instead of frying it, I'm sexfrying it."
Aubrey: I don't know. There's a whole note on language that the book opens with, it's like, two sentences that's like, "Hey, man, this language has been Nugentized or something." Or, you're like, "Okay, I get it."
Michael: Content warning. This book contains total gibberish.
Aubrey: He has some recipes in here. Mostly it's little essays or whatever. He does some writing, and there are so many chapters. Each chapter has one to three recipes in it where you're like, "This is not a great cookbook."
Michael: This seems like one of those books that's just very blatantly a cash in.
Michael: Where he probably wasn't meaningfully involved, and it just, like, "Put him on the cover. People buy it. No one will actually read it or engage with it in any way."
Aubrey: After all of those chapter titles, my notes just say, "I get it. You're straight."
Aubrey: Like, [Michael laughs] Jesus. Message received.
Michael: Chapter 16, Vaginal Intercourse with My Wife.
Michael: All right, Ted. All right, we already got it with Sexfried.
Aubrey: So, he does have recipes in this cookbook. There are not a ton of them. The first one that I want to talk about is a barbecue sauce. The recipe title is barbecue sauce for javelina and then in parentheses, (good for all piggage.
Michael: All right, maybe he was involved. This seems like subliterate "word play" that he would be doing.
Aubrey: A ghost writer would have reigned it in at some point, and he is not reigning it in at any point.
Aubrey: The ingredients for this barbecue sauce are tomato sauce. The quantity listed is just lots.
Michael: Oh, my God.
Aubrey: Tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic, onion bits, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and prickly pear fruit juice. The instructions for this recipe are to mix the ingredients together "in amounts to your own taste and then simmer it."
Michael: It is very funny of like, "Sorry, can you stop performing masculinity now? I'd actually like to get the amounts for the recipe."
Michael: Weird, toxic bullshit. It's like making the recipe useless.
Aubrey: There is also a recipe that they note is contributed by Shemane, his wife called Coca Cola Stew.
Michael: Oh, God.
Aubrey: For Coca Cola Stew, you are supposed to season and sear off some venison. You then put that venison in a slow cooker with potatoes, carrots, onion, two cans of Coca Cola classic, and a jar of sweet chutney. Jarred sweet chutney that you can get in the US is like jam.
Michael: Yeah, that's too much sugar, I feel like for braising.
Michael: It's just like simple syrup, basically, that you're braising this in.
Aubrey: It would be great if you had some vinegar, or some lemon juice, or you had some red pepper flakes like something.
Michael: Before we had those "TikTok fetish content recipe videos," we had Ted Nugent's recipe book.
Michael: Have you seen the fucking TikTok videos?
Aubrey: I've seen TikTok, but I don't know what videos you're talking about.
Michael: But you've seen those deranged ones where it's like, "I'm going to make this in the sink." And you take all this pasta, and then you pour a whole thing of pasta sauce on it, and you get in there with your hands, and you mix it up, and then you add a bunch of slices of American cheese, and then something like peanut butter. It just gets aggressively more demented as it goes along. It's like, these things exist only to be shared on Twitter for everybody to be like, "Eww, gross." But then the current theory is that these are actually just fetish content, and women getting into food with their hands and getting really dirty and talking about it. They're like, "Ah, just go in and get really slimy in your hands." It's like, there is an audience for this, but it's not home chefs.
Aubrey: Once again, you and I are on different parts of the internet. [laughs]
Michael: Internets. Learning about different people and different things.
Aubrey: I should say, there's also a middle section that are just one million pictures of Ted Nugent and his wife and his kids. There's a picture of her posing with a bow and arrow.
Michael: I find it totally plausible, Aubrey, that you are one of the only people who actually read this book.
Michael: This does not seem like an organic, grassroots, like, uprising of people who are like, "What can I do with this venison and my six pack of Coke in my pantry?"
Aubrey: I will say, I'm flipping through the book right now. I'm on page 57, and so far, all of the recipes have been for venison.
Michael: I'm livid about the lack of bears. That's why we're here.
Aubrey: It's a real bummer. There was one bear recipe in here at some point. There's a recipe just called Big Game Meat Cakes.
Michael: Oh, God. Tone it down, Ted. Jesus Christ.
Aubrey: It's just meatloaf.
Aubrey: Salt, pepper, ketchup, which he spells catsup, chopped onion, and one pound of ground lean meat.
Michael: The insecurity is just leaping off of the page.
Aubrey: It's astonishing.
Michael: It's like okay to eat meatloaf, Ted. You don't need to be like, "It's my man fried meat slab." This is just a normal meal, Ted.
Aubrey: That's all I have for Ted Nugent.
Michael: Do we have any wrap up thoughts? What have we learned?
Aubrey: I think the interesting thing about this is that pretty much every diet and every diet book has an extraordinarily conservative logic to it, which is like, personal responsibility, you got to pull yourself up by your bootstrap.
Aubrey: I think what was interesting about all of these books was that, when asked to fill a book full of wisdom related to that worldview, the first book that we looked at just reprinted the USDA guidelines.
Aubrey: And the second one couldn't do it. It's a very short book and it's all gibberish and nonsense.
Aubrey: So, it's just very interesting to me that, when asked to expound upon these already very conservative views about dieting, you can't go much more conservative than just dieting to begin with.
Michael: Also, the phrase conservative diet is kind of a pleonasm, because the whole thing is, instead of changing a social hierarchy, where fat people are poorly treated in society. The way that you respond to that is not by, "Well, let's treat fat people better." The way you respond is, "Well, I don't want to be fat."
Aubrey: Yeah, absolutely.
Michael: It's impossible to not write a conservative diet.
Aubrey: Absolutely. Listen, this is the same impulse behind, like, looking at a person who's fatter than you and going, "At least, I'm not that fat."
Aubrey: We don't really think about our opportunities to reject the entire fucking premise.
Michael: Right. That's why our advice in the show is, get out of these programs.
Michael: I'm out of them.
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