Cheney Book Will Save Publishing

Both sides of political spectrum remain fascinated with former VP

Right at this very moment Dick Cheney may be toiling in a cobwebbed garret above his garage on a work of unspeakable darkness: a manuscript, written longhand, perhaps in chicken blood or children's tears, revealing all the most sinister secrets and fevered imaginings that passed through his robot skull during his eight-year reign.

In other words, he -- like pretty much every former Bush administration official -- is working on his memoirs. But because he has been around since the dawn of the nation, Cheney's memoirs will also reportedly involve a definitive accounting of the "Republican ascendancy" since Nixon.

The asking price for this tome is rumored to be around the $2 million mark. Cheney's friends say he doesn't need the money, so why he would have such a steep asking price is a mystery. Maybe he would use the proceeds to fund one of his pet projects, such as building abattoirs for underprivileged teens or promoting the extinction of polar bears.

Or maybe Cheney just wants to see if he can net a bigger check than the alleged "real" former president, George W. Bush, who just signed his own book deal for an undisclosed amount.

A smart publisher would jump on Cheney's book immediately, but smart publishers are apparently in short supply these days. Instead what we get is a pack of 'fraidy cats who look at the wrong metrics and conclude that Cheney's personal unpopularity would translate to a commercial flop:

That sum may prove hard to get in this economic climate, especially given his generally low approval ratings, which publishers view as a potential — but not certain — harbinger for sales.

But here's the thing: Cheney's approval ratings are so incredibly low that he has graduated from mere unpopularity into pure villainy. And readers, while they will tolerate a decent hero and show little patience for dull nice guys, like nothing so much as a dark and mysterious villain.

And if we know two things about Dick Cheney, it's that he's very smart and completely unable to conceal his disdain for people he doesn't like. He's vain enough that he won't allow a ghostwriter -- sorry, "collaborator" -- to step all over his prose, so we can expect this memoir to be a clever and very subtly venomous takedown of everyone from Condi Rice to Barney the dog.

Cheney has true crossover appeal. Democrats would pay top dollar for a glance inside the fetid swamp of his psyche, while Republicans will happily buy this book in bulk to drive it up the bestseller list and display it proudly on their shelves next to all the other conservative memoirs they have never bothered to read. Far from being a waste of money, Cheney may be the best bet the publishing industry can make right now.

The acclaimed memoirist Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.

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