By Gustavo Arellano
By Aimee Murillo
By Matt Coker
By Vickie Chang
By Matt Coker
By LP Hastings
By Michael Goldstein
By R. Scott Moxley
Illustration by Mark DanceyIs there anything more American than hating your relatives? We hope not. But just because your relations hit you up for cash or a clean urine sample doesn't necessarily make them scary. Then again, all those scary people have to be related to someone: Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Sam, the Kennedys. All terrifying and all proof that many times scary progeny can surpass scary originals—or, in the case of Bill Simon Jr., just be a total wad. They can be evil scary, sad scary or so good they're scary. In that spirit, we present our 31 picks for Orange County's scariest sons, daughters, wives, mothers, evil twins, cousins and intellectual heirs . . . and one wad.
2. THE HOILES CLAN
Photo by Davis Barber
1. CURRENT IRVINE MAYOR LARRY AGRANEvil twin of Former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran, a beacon of progressive politics in the 1980s. Sometime in the early 1990s, that Agran was subdued by his evil twin. Current Irvine Mayor Agran loves sprawl. Since his return to the council in 1998, Evil Larry holds fund-raisers with the Irvine Co. and says his development policies mirror the company's. Most prominently, Evil Larry reneged on his high-profile promise to turn the abandoned El Toro airport into a Central Park twice as large as San Diego's Balboa Park. Look instead for Donald Bren Park, an industrial/ commercial/residential playground with a swing set and a band shell. Mitigating Factor: Have you seen Agran's enemies? These people you can't stop with stakes and garlic.
Feuding descendents of R.C. Hoiles, cantankerous former owner of The Orange County Register. When Hoiles died in 1970, his children began feuding for control of the paper, with the loudest bickering led by son Harry. After repeated attempts to take over Freedom Communications (the Reg's parent company), Harry antagonized his relatives so much they reached an agreement to sell Freedom stock only to one another. The newspaper-takeover gene must run directly from father to son because Harry's son Tim earlier this year attempted to dissolve Freedom after complaining his shares in the company weren't making enough money. It didn't work: a contingent of his nieces and nephews blocked the move, leaving Tim threatening to sue in order to make sure that he does what his father never did: fuck up the family business. Mitigating Factor: None. It's the Register.3. ANDREA SHELDON LAFFERTY
Daughter/trained parrot of the Reverend Lou Sheldon, executive director of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition. Like daddy, she just loves gays. Loves 'em! She has criticized George W.'s appointment of a miniscule number of gays to executive branch positions as "promotion of the homosexual agenda," and decried a bill allowing gays the chance to adopt children as an attempt by "homosexuals to mainstream their lifestyle . . . and they want to showcase Rosie [O'Donnell], who's become a household name. It's no longer just bisexual; it's transgender." Crazy? You betcha. Mitigating Factor:She's also nuts about science! Lafferty once told a conservative action group that doctors were using fetal tissue for such mad science as putting "human livers in monkeys to make monkey-humans."4. RICHARD J. "DICK" O'NEILL
Seventysomething grandson of the late Richard O'Neill Sr., butcher-turned-South Orange County/North San Diego County cattle baron. O'Neill, whose Rancho Mission Viejo land company plans to develop another 14,000 homes, has been described as gruff, generous, miserly, intelligent and insensitive. Probably because he didn't want to compete with all the other big fish in the Orange County Republican Party, he became the biggest fish in the Orange County Democratic Party. But he acts like a typical, born-into-wealth Republican, fighting slow-growth measures, promoting more road building in traffic-clogged SoCal and calling Ronald Reagan "a great man." Mitigating Factor: He took credit for getting out the Orange County vote for Bill Clinton in 1992.5. BILL SIMON
In his gubernatorial-campaign TV commercial, the Republican candidate declares, "Maybe because I've made money, I'm not corrupted by it." It's a strange point for Simon to assert. He didn't really make money by himself. He inherited his fortune from his daddy, William E. Simon—"energy czar" and then secretary of the treasury in the Nixon administration. Daddy was a hardcore right-winger (his friends described him as a "gorilla") who bemoaned representative democracy, threw legendary temper tantrums and slyly parlayed his "public service" into private business opportunities that brought him more than $350 million. Among daddy's lucrative personal clients: the same Saudi oil men who hit the jackpot when Simon directed U.S. energy policy. Cha-ching! Now comes Junior—who wants to be our Gov because he says he understands the everyday concerns of middle-class and poor Californians. He grew up with mansions, maids, stretch limos, chauffeurs and, of course, that massive trust fund. But money hasn't been able to buy him this election. Even Republicans are pegging his campaign as the most pathetic in history. Daddy would be irate. He once simply barked, "I don't suffer fools." Mitigating Factor: Daddy died of a stroke in 2000 before Junior could publicly embarrass him.
Tacky son of tacky Paul and Jan Crouch, who run tacky Trinity Broadcasting Network. Like Jethro Bodine, Matt has decided that he is a prawdoocer, spending ma and pa's money (honestly earned bilking rubes) on the likes of Omega Code, Championand Megiddo: Omega Code II. Though Matt sells his movies as a Christian response to the Hollywood Babylon, they're rife with Hollywood clichés right down to Matt pimping them on TBN. In fact, Matthew is a major reason that TBN increasingly has the look and feel of the old Merv Griffin show, with garish-looking haircuts—Benny Hinn, Dyan Cannon and that freak, Liberace-looking guy—talking about their latest CD, tent tour or apocalyptic movie starring Michael York as the Antichrist in matching cranberry knickers and tam. Mitigating Factor: When he refused to delay Megiddo's release soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, Crouch said God positioned the movie "to be the answer for a question we didn't even know would be asked." To anyone who saw this steaming heap, that answer was clear: Satan rules!7. JOAN IRVINE SMITH
The daughter of James Irvine III—whose father turned a sleepy ranch into Orange County's largest land company, the Irvine Co.—has been labeled spoiled, dictatorial, philanthropic, argumentative and perhaps crazy. She has been married a zillion times (for her mothering abilities, see the Morton Irvine Smith entry). Don't like the way the city of Irvine came out? Blame Joan: she's the one that demanded a master plan for the ranch, which wound up being the über-master plan of all master plans. Since the Irvine family lost the company's reins to outsiders, Joan as a shareholder locked horns with every subsequent dark overlord, including Donald Bren. She eventually cashed out her stake for hundreds of millions of dollars and is known as something of an eccentric who used to nuzzle up to a shotgun in slumber. She's big on the equestrian scene, once having alleged a bizarre plot had taken place to inject an unknown parasite into one of her prized horses. Art critics routinely tee off on the pedestrian landscapes—some dare compare them to what's hanging in dental offices—she proudly displays in her Irvine Museum, which is located on the upper floor of an office building—quite appropriate given the city she spawned. Mitigating Factor: She claims her love of land, water, horses, landscapes and ranching all tie in with a desire to preserve the environment, a crusade for which she has frequently put her mouth where her money is.
Wife of former Angels, current Cardinals pitcher and Newport Beach resident Chuck Finley. Writhing on car hoods during Whitesnake videos back in the 1980s should have guaranteed her lifetime scary status, but Kitaen outdid herself this year when she was arrested on April Fool's Day for allegedly beating on Finley while driving in their SUV. She pleaded not guilty. Finley filed for divorce three days later, alleging Kitaen is a suicidal drug abuser. Despite happy photos of the couple (the one above appeared in a cosmetic dentistry ad), the Finleys led a War of the Roses private life. According to Finley's divorce filings, during a two-year period ending in February of this year, Kitaen received 131 separate prescriptions from 20 doctors for 71 drugs, including Demerol, Halcion, Valium and Xanax. Then last month, Kitaen settled the spousal-abuse case, agreeing to a year of counseling in exchange for dropping the two misdemeanor counts. She still has access to her two daughters, but she can't go near Finley for three years. Mitigating Factor: Topless through much of the otherwise unwatchable 1985 "movie" The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak.9. W. JAMES EDWARDS III
The son of William James Edwards Jr., who started Newport Beach-based Edwards Theatre Circuits Inc. in 1930 with a $400 loan from his father. "Junior," as III is known, inherited the reigns to OC's best-known family business upon his dad's death at age 90 in 1997. Five years later, the company is on the brink of being swept into the dustbin of local history. The elder Edwards dreamed up the bold plan to double the number of Edwards screens nationwide, but shortly before he died he held secret talks to have AMC Entertainment take over at least part of his company. The flashier Junior, a fixture on the OC social scene, nixed those talks when he assumed power and pushed ahead with the $200 million expansion alone. It proved to be a fatal miscalculation. The company was plunged deep into debt and declared bankruptcy in 2000. Denver billionaire Philip F. Anschutz picked Edwards up in a fire sale. All Edwards corporate employees were laid off, and though the local cinemas currently bear the family name, insiders say it's a matter of time before they all become Anschutz's Regal Cinemas. Fade to black. Mitigating Factor: When the smoke cleared, Junior was still a rich sumbitch.10. JULIE NIXON EISENHOWER
Daughter of Orange County favorite son and disgraced U.S. President Richard Nixon. She's also known as "Not the Hot One." She worshiped her dad and inherited his paranoia. Though Watergate forever shamed Dick, Jules has always defiantly—and publicly—defended him. A nasty feud with her sister Tricia began the day of their father's 1994 funeral. On the El Toro-bound plane that once served as Nixon's Air Force One, Tricia's husband, Edward Cox, announced a plan to take control of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda away from hired hands and put the family in charge. Years of mudslinging followed. It got so bad that the library showcased Julie over Tricia, who was no longer invited to events there. This past August, they resolved a three-year spat over who would control a $20 million bequest from "Bebe" Rebozo to the Nixon Library. Tricia wanted the family in charge; Julie sided with the library foundation's board. They settled on having the sisters and another family friend decide how the library will spend the money. The two sisters hadn't been speaking for years when they emerged from their settlement conference. With photographers focusing their cameras, Julie put an arm around Tricia, smiled and struck a pose. Somewhere in Hell, Dick was smiling. Mitigating Factor:She's not her dad.11. TRICIA NIXON COX
Daughter of Orange County favorite son and disgraced U.S. President Richard Nixon. She's also known as "The Hot One." She worshiped her mother and inherited her quiet elegance. When kids Tricia's age portrayed her father as a Vietnam warmonger, she recast him as the father of the bride. But like her mother, she mostly retreated from the public eye, earning the nickname "Mystery Princess" from the White House press corps. She spoke with her sister Julie nearly every day as they shepherded their parents through old age, but they had a falling out over control of the Nixon Library once the elders passed. They fought over compensation for the presidential papers Congress impounded in 1974. They fought over whether the library should be run, as Tricia wanted, by family members or, as Julie wanted, by an independent board. But mostly they fought over library director John Taylor. Though both at one point wanted Taylor's head, he somehow managed to turn everything around, drive a wedge between the sisters and win Julie's allegiance. Mitigating Factor: She's not her sister.12. JOHNNIE CREAN
The son of Santa Ana Heights travel-trailer trailblazer turned public-TV cook John Crean almost became a South County congressman in the 1980s. Johnnie resorted to Nixonian dirty tricks to tarnish his challengers and spent roughly $838,000—at that time, more than any candidate in the nation—before winning the 1982 GOP primary for the congressional seat straddling southern Orange and northern San Diego counties. But he proved to be such a racist, mud-slinging, spoiled-rotten rich kid on the campaign trail that his own party disowned him and recruited then-unknown dentist Ron Packard to run as a write-in candidate. Packard went on to win the general election—only the third time in history that has happened in Congress. Johnnie Crean went on to serve the country as CEO of the Carlsbad all-male military academy he graduated from. The female admissions director there sued him in 2001 for alleged sexual discrimination and harassment. In her suit, Margarite M. Daniel alleged that over a seven-year period, Crean stared at her breasts, asked non-job-related questions about her marital and child-bearing status, suggested she had slept with the academy president to keep her job, suggested she sleep with an academy board member to keep her job, and humiliated her by standing behind her and blurting out publicly that her ass could boost enrollment. Earlier this year, Crean was arrested for bringing a loaded, 9 mm Glock semiautomatic pistol into the Santa Ana courthouse. Mitigating Factor: He's not the Beltway sniper.13. REBECCA DEMORNAY
Rebecca George, actually. The actress (hooker with a heart of gold in Risky Business, sweet best friend in The Trip to Bountiful, knife-wielding psycho in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle) changed her last name so no one could connect her with her pop: perennially cranky, God-, flag- and GOP-lovin' TV host Wally George—hey, you'd change your name, too. Alas, DeMornay's plan failed as the profiles of her and her father started rising simultaneously 'round about 1983. People ran a feature on the pair, one of many pieces pointing out the irony of a family-values mouthpiece being the semen source of an actress who portrayed a prostitute boinking Tom Cruise on a subway train. She hasn't been heard from much lately, her career having stagnated in a morass of cheesy woman-in-peril flicks (Guilty As Sin or Never Talk to Strangers, anyone?). Mitigating Factor: Likely the only living being on Earth who has been kissed by Wally George and Tom Cruise.14. ROBERT SCHULLER JR.
Lantern-jawed son of Crystal Cathedral founder Robert Schuller and the heir apparent to take over the sacred robe once daddy joins the big tent revival in the sky. When the elder went a little nutso on an airliner a few years ago, junior got his mug in front of cameras to lionize daddy and demonize the gay flight attendant. It was then the younger Schuller's scariness became evident to TV viewers who hadn't caught his act on the Hour of Power every Sunday. It wasn't so much the message that was frightening as the tall drink of water of a messenger, who eerily looks, sounds and exudes the same faux positivity as the old man. Mitigating Factor: He hasn't demanded all the grapes in first class yet.15. BRIAN O. BENNETT
Bob Dornan may not have had all his offspring with long suffering wife Sally. Brian Bennett, the homosexual former Dornan chief of staff, travel companion and ardent Dornan defender affectionately calls the (at least publicly) homophobic ex-OC congressman "Poppy." Bennett is out of the closet now. When he's not devising misleading media propaganda for Southern California Edison, he's shilling for anti-gay Republicans. Last we heard, Bennett wrote a pre-election column claiming that Huntington Beach Republican Dana Rohrabacher is gay-friendly. Sure, Brian, and Paul Lynde loved chicks. Mitigating Factor: Looks awful in stripes.
These four are responsible for Orange County, the cinematic nepotism gang-bang starring Sissy Spacek's daughter (Fisk) and Tom Hanks' son, directed by Lawrence Kasdan's boy, and written by the offspring of OC activist Mel White. The movie got a lot of people excited about what it would have to say about life here and the people who live it. In the end, it said absolutely nothing about Orange County or anything else. Mitigating factor: They seldom come to Orange County.17. PEARL JEMISON-SMITH
Sure, everybody is always hearing about Linda, "Queen of the OC music scene"; Linda "the jewel in its underbelly"; ad infinitum. For the past 12 years, nobody has been able to turn around without hearing about Linda Jemison, former proprietress of the dank, exciting Linda's Doll Hut and now manager of Wonderlove. But the lovely, slim blonde next to her at such events as the OC Music Awards is her mother, Pearl Jemison-Smith. Kindly and cultured, Jemison-Smith is the force behind the Orange County AIDS Walk as well as a founding member of the OC AIDS Services Foundation. She was an epidemiology nurse focusing on the hepatitis scourge when AIDS hit, and she has been doing her part—and yours and yours and mine—ever since. And she will hit you up—and hit you up again. What are you going to do? Say no? Mitigating Factor: It's only six miles, you fat, lazy slob. Your grandmother can walk six miles.18. GREGORY SCOTT HAIDL
The 17-year-old son of Orange County Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl is one of three boys who each faces 21 felony counts of rape and related sex crimes against an unconscious 16-year-old girl in July. Evidence in the case includes a video tape of the crime in fashionable Corona del Mar. Demonstrating his respect for the judicial process, young Haidl made obscene gestures to onlookers when he was brought to court for a preliminary hearing. Mitigating Factor:His lawyer claims he "does his chores and is nice to his mother."19. ANTHONY C. RACKAUCKAS
Son of Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, the 31-year-old first came to our attention two years ago, when he got busted at 2 a.m., lying naked in his truck just outside Irvine Park. Also in the truck with him were two grams of coke, a glass pipe, a box of baking powder and Brillo pads. "Getting high smoking cocaine" was how Kid Rackauckas described his presence to curious Orange Police officers. Of course, Anthony C. was already well-known to Southern California law enforcement by that time, having racked up $26,000 worth of parking tickets in Long Beach as well as an LA drug arrest. And for anyone keeping score, a check of Riverside court records indicates Junior still gets into hot water from time to time, with four driving violations and a failure to appear in court since his Irvine Park arrest. Mitigating Factor: If DA Rackauckas was our old man, we'd be fucked-up, too.
Son of attention-hungry conservative Southern Baptist minister Wiley Drake Sr. (whose controversial stances include anti-gay rhetoric and unrelenting activism for the homeless) isn't just a junior—he's an enigma. Young Wiley oversees the youth ministry at First Southern Baptist in Buena Park, where kids in baggy jeans and spiked hair are jumping around like maniacs to loud music one moment, quietly worshiping God the next, and working their way through sexual-orientation issues the moment after that. Junior says he holds pretty much the same conservative beliefs as Senior but is decidedly different in his approach, his priorities and his calling. Where the father seems at ease using provocative public pronouncements, the son prefers saving one soul at a time. Quietly. Mitigating Factor: Hasn't named his son "Wiley." Yet.21. STEVEN BREN
Son of billionaire land baron Donald Bren. The Irvine Co. chairman left his first wife and Steven's mom, Diane, shortly after the boy's 1960 birth. During divorce proceedings, the not-yet billionaire father pleaded poverty—and that's pretty much how Diane, Steven and his brother were forced to live in tony Newport Beach. "We were brought up without anything—anything," Steven Bren once told an interviewer. That changed when he joined daddy's company, but the motocross rider-turned-Grand Prix racing champ wanted to stick close to cars, so he left his Irvine Co. vice president office in 1987 and bought into a Newport Beach luxury auto dealership. His personal life also kicked into gear when he met model Thais Baker and wed her in a lavish 1988 ceremony. But it was about then his Newport Auto Center started running into legal trouble, getting tagged for violating environmental laws, being swept up in a shady deal involving Lamborghinis and former Chrysler Corp. chairman Lee Iacocca, and getting caught with eight street-illegal Porsche Speedsters on its back lot. Gossip around town shortly thereafter was Papa Bren was royally pissed. The lot was sold to a company owned by billionaire Wayne Huizenga in 1994. Thais Bren left Steven and married pro golfer Freddie Couples in 1998. Mitigating Factor:He has a ripping trust fund.
Here she comes! This former union president is poised to follow in the footsteps of her sister, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove). As the Democratic nominee for the brand-new 39th Congressional District, she's virtually unbeatable. If elected, Linda and Loretta will be the first sibling act to make it to Capitol Hill since Ted and Bobby Kennedy. What's scary about this—to right-wing Republicans, that is—is that Linda is even more progressive than her powerful sister. Mitigating Factor: Five other Sanchez siblings warming up in the bullpen.
24. GEORGE ARGYROS JR.
23. MARY KAY LETOURNEAUDaughter of former ultraconservative, family-values hypocrite OC Congressman John Schmitz just turned 40 in a Washington state prison, where she'll celebrate a few more birthdays for following in her old man's fucksteps. Schmitz's political career was torpedoed when it was revealed he had a child out of wedlock with one of his college students. LeTourneau was a married elementary schoolteacher with four children who had sex—and a couple of children—with one of her students. LeTourneau pleaded guilty to second-degree child rape in 1997 after the first baby was conceived and served six months. After her release on probation, she became pregnant by the teen a second time and drew a seven-and-a-half-year sentence. Mitigating Factors: In 2000, cancer buried John Schmitz's withered putz for good, and the made-for-TV movie The Mary Kay LeTourneau Story: All-American Girlwasn't all that bad.
Son of billionaire developer/Spanish ambassador George Argyros. Junior is best known for impersonating a police officer in Idaho after confronting a motorist he thought was driving too slow, flashing an Orange County Sheriff's Advisory Council medallion and threatening to arrest the man. That stunt got him two and half days in jail, plus a $300 fine. Unfortunately for George Jr., the Southern California Sun, the American Basketball Association franchise that he was part owner of, couldn't get arrested in Anaheim, where, on a good night, they attracted 500 fans into the 8,800-seat Anaheim Convention Center. Mitigating Factor: When George Jr. was included in a Registerpiece about Orange County's most eligible bachelors, he received only a one star rating compared to five for Tiger Woods and two for sixtysomething county supervisor Bill Steiner.25. MORTON IRVINE SMITH
The son of the late, renowned horseman Morton "Cappy" Smith, who once described his 37-year-old son as the type who would rather hang around a pool with a beer than actually work for a living. The younger Smith's mother—Irvine Co. heiress Joan Irvine Smith—is less diplomatic. She became estranged from Junior in the 1990s because of his college girlfriend, Marianne Campbell. As the years went on, Joan cringed whenever Morton showed up to high-society functions with Marianne, whom Joan felt didn't act or dress the part of society wife. The scorn went both ways, with Marianne constantly backstabbing Joan. It all came to a head when Morton broke the news that he would marry the working-class girl in 1994. Joan decreed he was officially cut off from the Irvine Family fortune. He was convicted in 1995 of driving while drunk in Newport Beach. A year later, he was arrested for possessing and being under the influence of cocaine—charges that were dismissed when he agreed to enter a rehab. Mitigating Factor: As Morton himself once put it, he was not raised by parents but boarding schools.26. BRANDON JAMES
The son/publicity man of pinup icon Jeanne Carmen is a nice enough fella, though his habit of describing his mother—whom he calls Jeanne—and her sexual conquests (Frank Sinatra, Elvis) makes one very uncomfortable . . . though not so uncomfortable we tell him to stop. Mitigating Factor: His mom was—is—supersexyhot.27. LAURA ROONEY
Daughter-in-law of actor Mickey Rooney and wife of Mickey Rooney Jr. From her father-in-law's Oompa-Loompa-ish vibe and Hollywood rise and fall to her hubby's desperate grab at his daddy's dwindling fame, Laura has witnessed plenty of scary. Then came her 1997 cocaine bust at a Newport Beach trailer park. She claimed the blow was not hers but eventually pleaded guilty. A jury rejected her claim that cops broke her arm while arresting her, and she was forced to cough up $123,792 to cover the city's legal expenses. Mitigating Factor:Laura and Mickey Jr. now live in Riverside County, where they sing gospel tunes and run a nonprofit dedicated to helping the needy.28. BRUCE DANNEMEYER
The son of Bible-thumping, hate-spewing former Congressman William Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) ran for a Superior Court judge seat last March and has said he shares pretty much the same political philosophy as his nutty father, who was probably the nuttiest of the so-called "dinosaurs" who dominated Orange County politics in the 1970s and '80s. Mitigating Factor: Dinosaur Jr. lost his judicial bid.
Hey, who's the little sandy-blond dude doing the kick flips and the ollies and the flapdoodles? That's the 5-year-old, already-sponsored-skater son of Dana Wildes, the assy, sassy Huddle bartendrix who earned herself a berth among OC's hottest bartenders by always being ready with a raunchy quip—though since this is a blurb about her very young son, we will not reprint them here. You're welcome, Dana. Instead, talking about her kindergartner, the proud mom says, "At a very young age, he discovered electrical outlets and the deep end of swimming pools." Over the phone, we hear her say to someone, "Don't run with the scissors. Please!" Good luck. Did she ever tell you about the time he came crashing through the sliding glass doors while playing hockey—naked? "He's hardcore," she tells us. "He's 42 pounds of punk rock." Mitigating Factor: You could totally take him, man.30. SCOTT STEINER
Son of former Fourth District supervisor and current fat-cat fund-raiser Bill Steiner. Not quite 30, Scotty Boy is a Republican from way back. As a kid, he named his fish after Margaret Thatcher and Nancy Reagan. In college, he carried a picture of the Gipper in his wallet. Today, Scott is a low-ranking OC deputy district attorney who last year lost a ridiculously expensive bid for the Orange City Council. Old Man Steiner—famous for collecting more than $50,000 in campaign contributions after he publicly declared he was retiring from office, then spending a couple of thousand of it on a few lavish meals at Antonello's—passed the hat for Sonny Boy among his old developer cronies. What did the younger in was publicity surrounding his incomprehensible—and illegal—decision to run his campaign out of the DA's office on county time. Mitigating Factor:Currently not running for public office.31. LEONARD PEIKOFF
The intellectual progeny of musky intellectual mistress Ayn Rand. She wrote the mammoth Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, clunky, expository novels barely dressing up a simple-minded, hooray-for-capitalism philosophy laid out with painful clarity in her collection of essays, The Virtue of Selfishness; he wrote in 1982 the windy The Ominous Parallels on philosophical similarities he discerns in Nazism and contemporary America. To honor his intellectual mother, Peikoff founded in 1985 the (now Irvine-based) Ayn Rand Institute, which is something like a Soviet-style guarantor of Randian purity; the institute referees disputes that occasionally end in excommunication. When Randians don't sound like hair-splitting theologians, they merely sound nuts: last month, Peikoff's Institute colleague told a crowd at the Hyatt Regency Irvine that (a) America was attacked Sept. 11 because it is "a shining sun of capitalism," and then (b) seemed to contradict himself by arguing that our failure to level the Middle East before the evening news is evidence that Americans are "moral cowards." Mitigating Factor:Looks like Lou Reed, so he's suffered enough already.
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