The New York Times bestseller
One of America's most original and biting comic satirists, Denis Leary takes on all the poseurs, politicians, and pop culture icons who have sucked in public for far too long. Sparing no one, Leary zeroes in on the ridiculous wherever he finds it-his Irish Catholic upbringing, the folly of celebrity, the pressures of family life, and the great hypocrisy of politics-with the same bright, savage, and profane insight he brought to his critically acclaimed one-man shows No Cure for CancerLock 'n Load.
Proudly Irish-American, defiantly working class, with a reserve of compassion for the underdog and the overlooked, Leary delivers blistering diatribes that are both penetrating social commentary with no holds barred and laugh-out-loud funny. As always, Leary's impassioned comic perspective in Why We Suck is right on target.
Put this book down.
Do not buy it.
Why are you still reading this?
I warned you.
Now I will beg you, beseech you—in short, do everything possible in the limited format of this
medium to get you to buy any other book within reach right now (if this book was a gift and you are at home or on a
plane or sitting in a hotel room somewhere I would suggest grabbing a newspaper or a magazine or even your
laptop) because this book is going to piss you off.
If you are a woman, you soon will be livid.
If you are a man, you are going to be filled with a burning rage.
If you are a kid—meaning anyone under the age of eighteen—you will soon be filled with
shock and awe.
If you are under the age of twenty–five you will soon be filled with shock and awe.
If you are a fan of Oprah—good luck.
If you hate Oprah or Oprah tends to drive you insane—you too will need some assistance.
This is not a book for the faint of heart or the politically correct or the weak or the extreme right wing
or the left of center leftist Democrat or nuns or any other members of any religion or New York Yankee fans.
I am warning you—I am not here to make you feel all warm and fuzzy or superior to anyone else
or all soft and gooey inside. I am here to debunk and declassify and otherwise hold up a brutally honest mirror to
our fat, ugly, lazy American selves.
I am here to explain how we can and must thin the herd and extricate the stupid and eradicate the
obese and take Rush Limbaugh's head and make a bong out of it.
Senators, psychopaths, fence–sitters (all three of those may sometimes be the same person),
celebrity assholes (hello), presidents, centerfielders, centerfolds—everyone is up for grabs here.
Because I'm sick of it all.
I'm sick of low self–esteem and fake fat–suit–wearing female
talk–show hosts and extreme makeovers and Cats the Musical and cats in general and
steroid–laden home–run hitters and Paris Hilton and Grey's Anatomy and Reese
Witherspoon movies and Parks Hilton's himbo boyfriends and celebrity rehab and Dr. Phil and Terrell Owens
and almost anyone else you can think of.
This country—including you and most of the people related to you by birth or marriage or
both—is populated by beings who have been so blessed for so long that they have become almost completely
immune to any interests other than their own.
Open ass—insert head.
THAT is the mantra with which most of America lives each and every day.
THAT'S what should be printed on the plaque beneath our beloved Statue of Liberty. Along with
Welcome to America where I'M not fat, I'M not stupid, I'M not the
Americans have been so isolated geographically, financially and psychologically for so long that we
don't even see reality in the mirror anymore. Everyone has bought so far into their own
bullshit—backed up by other jerk–offs and human jack–o'–lanterns on TV that
the truth has been distorted into a believable fantasy world: I can't be overweight, look at the
tub–a–lard sitting next to me. The food I eat can't be bad for me 'cause the commercial
on TV says it's actually healthy. I'm not addicted to these doctor–prescribed drugs, the drug
company discovered a disease that I have and then invented these pills to cure me.
Responsibility, research and actual factual thinking have gone out the window. If most people in this country
see something on TV it must be true/news/necessary/important. Therefore, when things go wrong—how can
the innocent citizen/TV watcher be at fault?
I spill a vat–sized "cup" of morning coffee onto my giant cellulite–dimpled
thighs at the take–out window and suffer third–degree burns because it was hot and I desperately
needed to wash down the two–ton doughnut I just manhandled into my gaping mouth—do I blame
myself and go on a diet and start working out?
I sue McDonald's because the take–out window kid who handed me the cup of
joe—who's from Bumfuck, Mexico, and has been in this country all of eighteen weeks and only knows
the English words "can I take your order, please," "would you like fries with that" and
"go Yankees"—didn't warn me that the coffee was the same temperature as the air in the
hut he grew up in was every single day of his childhood.
Open ass—insert head with flame–red tongue.
My kid is the size of an out–of–shape NFL offensive lineman, has what within two
months might become a full–blown Fu Manchu mustache and is already smoking two packs a day and
watching Internet porn even though SHE is only twelve years old.
Do I put her on a diet and make her start working out?
I sue McDonald's because they make shitty, hormone–and–chemical filled food
that she eats every single day three TIMES a day because I'm very very busy living my selfish extended
adolescent life and don't have time to:
A. Cook her normal food.
B. Monitor her free time.
C. Stop smoking pot and drinking so her easiest sources of alcohol and marijuana dry up.
Open ass—insert thick, self–medicated head.
An out–of–shape and overweight guy in Denver, Colorado, claims he developed lung
cancer because he ate microwave popcorn with artificial butter flavoring. He loved when he would pull the bag out of
the microwave and tear open the top and it would go "WHOOF" and he would stick his face in and inhale
the aroma. You can just hear him sucking in the sweet sweet smell of all that great fake butter, can't you? Just
like Homer Simpson: Ooooh—buttery fake butter. After whiffing up the cloud of chemicals, this moron on a
mission would proceed to scarf down the entire bag and then—that's right—start the whole
process all over again. He admits to snorting and scarfing two bags a day so let's do the actual math and add
the two more bags he won't admit to because he probably figures four bags a day would be really
embarrassing so what we have here is a guy who ate and sniffed so much fake butter that he developed the same
cancer that people who work in the plant where they manufacture the butter did—people who make
thousands of bags of pretend popcorn every single day.
Should he blame himself for his lazy butter–assed slovenly ways?
The popcorn factory workers filed a dangerous workplace/permanent health damages lawsuit and he
decided to ride their cancer coattails all the way to the bank.
Let's up his total to at least five bags a day. Whatever the actual number might be I'll
guarantee you one thing right now—you don't wanna be THIS guy when you're sitting down in
the lung cancer chemotherapy waiting room. 'Cause when the guy who worked in a coal mine for
twenty–seven years or the fireman who spent decades pulling people out of asbestos–ridden burning
bags asks how YOU got lung cancer the last word you wanna mention is "popcorn."
Open ass—insert fake butter bag.
And I don't wanna hear the words "misogyny," "racial profiling" or
I'm talking common goddam sense.
Misogynistic means you hate women—it doesn't mean you hate women because you are
trying to tell them what they do not want to hear.
Like yes, your ass IS fat.
Or no—most heterosexual men do NOT find Renée Zellweger attractive.
AND—it's not possible that every single pair of shoes or every dress you decide to buy can
be on sale. Maybe four hundred and seventy–nine dollars is the ACTUAL price and "marked down from
seven hundred" is what they teach the salesclerk to tell you.
Danica Patrick—the much heralded and publicized and ostracized and
cursed–about–by–men female race car driver finally won her first race in 2008. Legions of
women all over the earth were quoted in happy, feminist quotes about female power and female challenges and
equal rights and equal abilities. Danica cried as she accepted her trophy and was photographed in all of her glory
and joy. But the picture that was most often seen the next day was Danica in a bikini. From her pages in
Sports Illustrated's Annual Swimsuit Issue. In which she looked very very hot. Now—we
can all agree or disagree that the picture and its placement and why she took it and are women objectified and blah
blah sexist blah—but the truth is if you ask most men if they are attracted to a woman who can drive faster
than them you will get either a no or a big fat maybe. But if you ask most men if they mind a woman who looks like
Danica does in a bathing suit beating their brains out on the track? The answer is—not at all. Especially if
she's WEARING the bikini while she drives. Hell—I'll sign up right now and ride shotgun. As a
matter of fact—I wish there were a whole race of female race car drivers who drove like cheetahs on crack and
looked fine in a swimsuit issue—I think the ratings would go through the roof.
But that will NEVER happen.
If you are a woman reading this, odds are Danica will win another few races but not you. Or your
daughter. Danica is an anomaly. You and your daughter most likely are not. Even if you somehow managed to
convince yourself that you were Danica Part Deux and passed every physical and mental challenge in your path and
got sponsored and suited up and officially entered and placed on the track—you would never win a single
IndyCar—EVER. Even if all the other male drivers were involved in an incredible crash that left them literally
without the wherewithal to circle the track, you would be unable to maneuver around between all the burning and
airborne debris fast enough to see the checkered flag.
Especially if you have or plan on having kids.
Because there's an instinct built into the female DNA—if a woman is still of natural
child–bearing age—to protect herself and not risk the future of her children, whether they exist in egg
or embryo or live germ–factory form. Potential kid, kid in the oven or kid running around. It's why
most women don't wish to get into fistfights or shoot animals or fly airplanes into tall
buildings—unless it's to protect or feed or avenge the lives of their own children. You wanna win the
Daytona 500? We would have to strap your firstborn into the shotgun seat of a lead car driven by a crazed
ex–boyfriend on a revenge ride from hell or your current lover while he was under chemical influence and
give either of them a fifteen second head start and then and only then would you be headed for a victory lap. And
the winner's circle celebration would probably involve breast instead of bottled milk.
It's absolutely commonsense fact: girls like to dance and boys like to hit. That's why girls become
cheerleaders and boys become football players. Girls play mommy and boys pretend to kill each other. Girls like
pretty clothes and boys like fire trucks.
For women, their list of hot men includes a dad who waits at the corner bus stop with his toddler son
and places him on the bus with a kiss atop the head and waves goodbye as the bus drives away. This man could be
thirty pounds overweight and wearing a goofy hat. Women will still find him sexy.
For men—a mom doing the same thing—placing her toddler on the bus with a loving kiss
and a wave—would be just as hot and sexy. As long as she was built like Giselle Bundchen and wearing a
I know it's awful. I know it's incredibly simple and stupid and sad.
But it's true.
As a matter of fact—you could skip the kid and the bus and just have Thong Mom walk down
the corner and stand there—same difference for straight men.
A recent online poll by Women's Day magazine came up with these results:
When asked which they would rather have—Jennifer Aniston's body or a million
dollars—78 percent of the women chose the money.
If you had asked men—78 percent would have chosen Jennifer Aniston's body—as
long as they could press it right up against their own.
As a matter of fact—if they had asked men—they would have found that most men WITH a
million dollars would gladly give it up for the CHANCE to touch Jennifer Aniston's body. Or just see her
Maybe that's the difference between men and women.
One of them, anyway. Here's another:
Ninety–four percent of the people in the country who visit, pay and place heavy stock in
psychics and what they have to say are women. The other 6 percent? Gay men.
Women go to psychics to find out what the future might hold for them in terms of true love, their
children, former lives they may have lived, where their dead father/boyfriend/best friend might be.
Straight men? If psychics are capable of seeing into the future—why the fuck can't they
give us the score to next year's Super Bowl.
That's it for men. Very cut and dried, very black and white. We'll discuss that and many
other issues between men and women between these covers.
By the way—bipolar? Bullshit. Every single woman I have every known has been bipolar for SOME
part of her life—one week here, nine months there, ever since her mother stopped calling—something.
When I was a kid, bipolar meant either the twin axis ends of the earth or maybe a bear who swung both ways. Now
it's an excuse for every other girl whose hormones are conducting a human body remake of Raging
They didn't have bipolar when I was growing up. If they did—my mom would've
been called TRIpolar. She could smack one kid with a wooden spoon, ask a second kid if she was retarded and give a
third kid a sweet little kiss on the head—all within four and a half seconds. And ya know what? Each one of us
almost always deserved what we had coming.
And that's another thing I don't wanna hear ever again—dysfunctional families.
That one is officially off–limits. Done. Retired forever. Has anyone ever heard of a FUNCTIONAL family? Who?
When? Where? The Jacksons? Nope. The Osmonds? Nope. I don't think so. You wanna know what a functional
family is? One where no one ends up killing everyone else. You can't have four or five or fifteen people live
together in one place WITHOUT war and envy and greed and anger and theft and every other available weapon.
Then you gotta be a chick.
Open vagina—insert head.
I told you this book was gonna tick you off. Let's face it—the raw truth hurts.
Like this fact: I don't know a living man on this planet who DOESN'T have attention deficit
disorder or spends at least twelve hours of each day thinking about his penis.
I didn't know the guy personally but I would bet my left ball that even Jesus thought a lot about
his johnson. Hey—he could probably make his do special tricks. If I was the Son of God, special dick tricks
would probably be the second or third thing I'd be spending my time on after I found out about my secret
That's a lie.
Who am I kidding? It'd be the first.
Here's another lively topic:
It says somewhere in the piece of paper that this country of ours was founded upon that all men are
All men are created equal as long as they don't wanna blow each other.
And then decide to keep on blowing each other long enough to fall in love.
And then suddenly express a desire to formalize that relationship by getting married.
It's apparently okay to have sex with other guys as long as you keep it secret and have a wife
who somehow doesn't know AND you are either the pastor of a church or a sitting senator or both. In Larry
Craig's case the term "sitting senator" will more than likely get a laugh out of you—as will
the term "wide stance."
Yup—there is a real fear in America that gay marriage will somehow up–end heterosexual
unions and throw the entire moral fabric of the country into a tailspin—no pun intended.
I know several gay men and gay women involved in very committed and honest relationships with other
gay men and gay women that would put a lot of straight married couples to shame. They are monogamous and
caring and devoted and affectionate.
Besides—why shouldn't they get married? Why should straight married couples be the
only ones who never have sex, argue incessantly over what to watch on TV and walk around on a daily basis
harboring a deep and bottomless well of resentment and anger pieced together brick by murderous brick over years
and years of both real and imagined slights and emotional warfare and wallpaper choices? Shit—I say marry
every gay and willing couple off right now. Mark my words—just like that the rest of us—within
eighteen months at least half of them will come running back to court begging to be released from such an
endlessly mind–and libido–numbing fate.
Open ass—insert the Bill of Rights.
Here's another inarguable factoid:
Racial and ethnic stereotypes exist because they are TRUE. For instance—don't tell me the
Irish don't love to drink. I AM Irish. We invented whiskey, for crissakes. You know what whiskey means in
Gaelic? Water of life.
I rest my case.
On YOUR political correct goddam lap.
Years ago I wrote a piece for the New York Post about the St. Patrick's Day Parade
in which I made fun of the fact that most of the Irish and a few of the Puerto Rican guys I knew would
annually—which means every single fucking year—spend the unofficially holy day painting their faces
green and getting drunk and then beating the living shit out of each other after an argument broke out over who had
better pitching, the Yankees or the Mets.
The Irish Defamation Society threatened to file a lawsuit against me for perpetrating an awful and
ruinous myth about Irish Americans.
Several weeks went by and no lawsuit emerged. Why?
Because they soon realized that all I had to do was call up any local news channel and request footage
from ANY St. Patrick's Day Parade held since the invention of the television camera and there in front of our
eyes would be green–faced Irish Americans in a drunken punch–up with their own cousins and best
friends and actual brothers—many times right in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Puerto Ricans and
the New York Mets didn't enter the equation until they both started playing baseball during the 1960's.
The right to bear arms and the right to vote and the equal rights amendment and freedom of speech and every
other piece of paper evidence you wanna throw onto the pile may guarantee you the right to spout stupidity (see
Newt Gingrich, Mel Gibson, Barry Bonds, et al.) but it also guarantees that the rest of us don't have to buy into
Ya wanna build a giant fence to keep all the Mexicans out? Fine. Who's gonna build the fence?
Where are we gonna get our cheap Mexican weed? Who's gonna host The Dog Whisperer?
Our country has been so driven into debt by a drug–addled, imbred, dry drunk of the
Republican revolution—a man who ran an oil company into the ground (do you know how hard it is NOT to
make money off of oil? My daughter's Chihuahua could pull it off)—that we are now borrowing money
The same country that tried to KILL our dogs with poison dog food three years ago.
Where there are seventeen BILLION people and eight automobiles.
A country so corrupt that if I lived there and typed the words "CHINA SUCKS" as I did just
now? Within a day I would have disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving my wife and the only child we are
allowed to have—and our three bikes—to fend for themselves.
We will delve deeper into each and all of these matters during the next couple of hundred pages.
And I do so as a doctor, ladies and gentlemen.
Dr. Denis Leary.
You don't believe me?
Here's a photograph of the actual degree I received from my alma mater Emerson College on the
afternoon of May 16, 2005.
Suck on that, Dr. Phil.
Or as I like to call him—Dr. Full.
Hey—I don't know what his actual weight was when he started pushing his diet book, but
let's just say he was more than a little puffy and really now what I would call an authority on that particular
subject. Hell—he might as well have written a book on how to stop being bald while he was at it.
Let me point something out—Dr. Full doesn't even have a license to practice in the state
of California, which is where he tapes his daily talk show.
Let me point something else out—if I needed to go on a diet, I'd want the guy selling me
his diet book to not only be thin but actually be in shape—is that too much to ask?
But this is America—where if you're on TV—especially if you appear on
Oprah—you MUST be some kind of authority.
Well, I haven't been on Oprah but I DO have my own TV show and a degree that calls me a
doctor. So here's my point—if Dr. Full can write a diet book then I can sure as hell write a
self–help book. And that's really all I'm trying to do here—help you to help yourself AND
make a shitload of money while I'm doing so.
Because I really do believe we live in the greatest country on earth but—just like that
fixer–upper you get a very good price on—there's still a lot of work left to do.
We live in a country that's still very very young, as countries go, and I think the whole idea of
the American Dream has been convoluted and undone.
We live in a country where the first pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's baby were sold for
over four million dollars. Shit—for THREE million dollars I'd sell you the pictures AND the kid.
We live in a country where Rosa Parks had the courage and conviction to sit down long enough to start
a revolution that led to Al Sharpton screaming racism every time Barry Bonds gets indicted for taking
performance–enhancing drugs in order to break a home–run record set by a black man who
didn't even have the benefit of Advil.
We live in a country where—once upon a time—the President Medal of Freedom was given
to people who fought for civil rights and equal rights and other matters that made a genuine difference and real
contributions to a better future for everyone on the planet. Now it goes to guys who so botched the War on Terror
that the president has to accept their resignation before they squirm off into the shadows to lick their wounds.
We used to honor our living war veterans with respect and bury the dead heroes with dignity.
George Bush The Second avoided Vietnam through privileged connections, shot down the brave deeds
of another privileged son—John Kerry—who volunteered to serve, came home with medals on his chest
and made the mistake of thinking the best man might win when he ran against a guy whose administration was
caught cremating dead American soldiers from Iraq in a pet cemetery incinerator.
Because it was cheaper.
Open ass—insert Oval Office.
It's time to tear down the walls of the stupid and the inane and the politically correct and the
righteous and the pretentious and the bald and tell them how much they suck and how fat they are and how
everything in the Bible is NOT necessarily true and no your hair will never grow back and yes you look much older
without it and no—women really don't find bald guys attractive unless you're Mark Messier or a
multizillionaire or both.
It's time to shave your back and pay attention to your kids and buy a bigger–size dress
and stop wearing spandex until you lose a hundred pounds.
Skinny jeans are meant for skinny people. In case you don't understand the term
"skinny"—if your ass doesn't fit into a seat at the ballpark or hockey rink or football
stadium—yer fat. Too fat for skinny jeans.
What would Jesus say? What I just said. Only louder.
And his hands and feet would be bleeding so he'd probably be in a very pissy mood.
So listen up.
I'm trying to help you here.
It won't be pretty. But it will be goddam funny.
Strap yourself in.
It's gonna be a bumpy–assed, roller–coaster–on–fire type of
No helmets allowed.