Glenn Beck talks with John Stossel



John Stossel

GLENN: From high above Times Square, third most listened to show in all of America and strangely we're proud of that. Hello and welcome to the program. My name is Glenn Beck. The one, the only Mr. John Stossel is with us, a man that we highly respect, a man we used to fear and then because, well, because he's frank, quite honestly. And now he's a coworkers of ours and we're thrilled to be a part of his world. John Stossel, welcome to the program. How are you?

STOSSEL: I'm great, Glenn. And thank you for encouraging me to come. Let's tell, tell everybody that you helped make it happen.

GLENN: Well, I have to when I saw, you know, when I spoke to you and we talked and I said, so is there any, like, chance maybe that you would leave ABC and Fox was interested in you, it was a thrill because I mean, we're slowly but surely bringing more and more libertarians into, out of the darkness and into the mainstream.

STOSSEL: The darkness, I like that. And so who do we have besides Andrew Napolitano and I?

GLENN: That's well, that's good, don't you think?

STOSSEL: You said more and more.

GLENN: Well, we got one more. Back in December of last year they had one. Would you stop with the facts? What are you, some investigative reporter or something?

STOSSEL: I try to be.

GLENN: Yeah. So John, sincerely let me just say this one more time. Thrilled to be working with you. Truly thrilled to be working with you.

STOSSEL: Well, thank you. And let me say one more time that I've been watching Fox. It's been just a pleasure to watch, and you'd think I would just call Roger Ailes on my own, but it took you being a catalyst to say, you know, "some people here are interested; what about it" to get me off my rear to do it, to say we need help.

GLENN: Did you feel let me start with this: This whole thing about have you watching the TV show at all, John, mine?

STOSSEL: Some. But mostly

GLENN: What are you doing? You are not even working yet. I mean, what are you doing with your time?

STOSSEL: Trying to figure out how to get my computer to work.

GLENN: You can't carve out a few minutes for me? You know, this whole thing that we've been doing this week on the media and how they are the White House is going after the arts, they are going after television, indoctrination in schools, they are going now after the Internet this week, they are coming after Fox News and me for, you know, trying to shut us up and some

STOSSEL: I knew about Fox News and you. I didn't know about the other stuff.

GLENN: Well, that's because you don't watch my program.

STOSSEL: I do sometimes.

GLENN: Well, I may watch you from time to time, too. You are going to be on tonight. I may watch part of that segment. As somebody who was over at ABC for so many years, what do you think is going through the minds of journalists with this war from the White House on free speech?

STOSSEL: I would think in general in the mainstream media the attitude is heh, heh, heh, those arrogant Republicans are finally getting theirs and about time somebody pointed out how one sided they are.

GLENN: I have to tell you that I find that very sad. I know that Jake Tapper do you know Jake Tapper at all?

STOSSEL: I don't know him well. I heard I mean, I read the transcript of what he said at the press conference, and I was very impressed. I mean, he clearly doesn't feel that way.

GLENN: He doesn't feel that way, and it's my understanding that he is a gigantic liberal. He's just a decent journalist. You know, he's not going to let his personal opinion go in, you know, to his job. He's going to actually ask the tough questions, which I highly respect. But, you know, while he asked that question, there was a gaggle of reporters and there were on a plane and it's my understanding that Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann were in that gaggle of reporters while Jake Tapper asked that question.

STOSSEL: Really?

GLENN: Yeah. It's

STOSSEL: It wasn't just that question. It was that followup question and followup question, and Tapper has always been known as someone, one of the few who really get that there is another side to the basic liberal message that predominates the mainstream media. He may not agree with it but at least he understands there is another side and it deserves to be heard.

GLENN: I have a guy on today. Let me switch gears. A guy from New York. What is this guy's name, Stu? This is a there's a big election going on now, and explain this story, Stu. I'm sorry. I don't I just don't pay attention to local elections at all.

STU: Yeah, basically I mean, the basic narrative is there was a, you know, the guy who's representing this district, Obama pulled him to be I think secretary of the army. So then there was a they decided to choose the new Republican to run. They chose a moderate. So now this guy stepped in as sort of the conservative option. So there's now a Democrat, a Republican who's a moderate and then a conservative party candidate.

GLENN: Okay, stop with the moderate stuff. The moderate Republican that the Republicans of New York have selected has been endorsed by the Working Families Party, which is an arm of ACORN. I mean, he's for card check and everything else. This or she is. I don't even know who this Republican is. She? But she's not a Republican. She's John McCain or Barack Obama. That's what they're doing in New York. And this is a test now in New York, the first real test of whether or not conservatives will stand for principles or they'll just follow the party. Can you address, John, a little bit? I mean, being somebody who's been a libertarian for years and years and years, can you address just a little bit on the idea that you're throwing your vote away if you don't vote for the Republican because there won't be anybody to stop the Democrat?

STOSSEL: Well, the odds of my one vote changing an election are pretty slum pretty slim. I certainly have not been able to vote for plenty of Republicans. I mean, I'm glad you say stop with the moderate. I also am never sure what conservative means. If conservative means that the person opposes horrible legislation, job killing legislation like card check, then I'm a conservative. If conservative means stop all immigration and some other things that conservatives say, then I won't vote for the conservative, either.

GLENN: Well, hang on just a second. I'm not for stopping all immigration by any stretch of the imagination, but I am for knowing who's here. Are you for that?

STOSSEL: As much as possible. It's true. That was too blunt a stroke.

GLENN: Okay.

STOSSEL: But if it means the Lou Dobbs kind of rants about immigrants wrecking America, I don't subscribe to that. I think immigrants by and large do good things for America.

GLENN: I think immigrants I think we need more immigrants, ones that want to be Americans because those immigrants are the only ones that are reminding us that we better get off our ass, we've got liberty here and we forget about it all the time.

STOSSEL: That's very true. When they were passing all these antismoking rules and I wanted to make the argument that, gee, don't we have freedom of association? Can't the guy who smokes who owns a bar have smoking in his bar? Can't the smokers have some bars? And I went on the street and I asked smoker after smoker, what do you think? Oh, okay, I guess we're just going to have to stand outside. Nobody was outraged except the immigrants. And they would say, I thought America was the land of the free. So you make a good point there.

GLENN: So tell me about and we're going to talk a little bit about this tonight. The new healthcare bill, 1500 pages as it stands now. It's only going to get worse from here. In Massachusetts, which is the model healthcare system for people on left and right, it's a nightmare. It's a nightmare, and we're about to do this to the entire country.

STOSSEL: Well, the problem there is I think most people there don't consider it a nightmare yet, and it took the Soviet Union 70 years to fail. It takes these socialist systems time to implode and they can say and some people defend it there. They say, look, the number of uninsured residents fell from 6 to 2.6% and prices haven't gone up that much. But costs do keep rising faster than the pace in the United States as a whole, and over time that will just make insurance unaffordable in the state where I just build a house.

GLENN: They have hang on just a second. Did you just say you built a house in Massachusetts?

STOSSEL: Yeah. Am I going to regret that? Yeah, I just built a house on Cape Cod.

GLENN: In Cape Cod?

STOSSEL: My dream house.

GLENN: Well, when they I mean, when the government just takes the land and says you shouldn't have built a house there, you know, and you're surrounded by people like Barney Frank and, you know, his friends down south, Christopher Dodd, I'll write you from the mountains, John.

STOSSEL: Every car, all my neighbors have Obama stickers on their bumpers.

GLENN: Oh, jeez.

STOSSEL: And the State did come in while I was building it and say stop construction. Well, why? We got all our permits. We have to check to make sure there are no Indian remains on your land. Well, couldn't you have told me, couldn't all the permit people have told me this was a requirement before I started construction? You should have known when you built in a place called Indian Neck that you would have to. You have to pay our anthropologists $15,000 and stop construction while we dig.

GLENN: No, you did not.

STOSSEL: Yeah.

PAT: Did they find any Indian necks?

STOSSEL: I wouldn't have the house if they had.

GLENN: Wait a minute. You are only looking for Indian necks?

STOSSEL: No, the name of the place is Indian Neck.

GLENN: Is Indian Neck, okay.

STOSSEL: A mitten it's called, an Indian burial ground.

GLENN: Could you have negotiated with the government and just taken out like a sifter and just said, you know what, instead of $15,000, I'll just take the flour sifter and I'll go through the dirt myself?

STOSSEL: I think that's kind of what they use, but I did have to pay their archeologists.

GLENN: Of course you did. Of course you did. So John, the bill that is coming through now is I heard, who was it, Dick Morris or somebody this morning saying that if you make $64,000 a year, this free healthcare is going to cost you $8,000?

STOSSEL: If you say so. I haven't

GLENN: You haven't looked at that?

STOSSEL: yet looked at that.

GLENN: What have you looked at, John, seriously? What have you done? How long have you been not working at ABC?

STOSSEL: My fear is that they will pass some form of Obamacare Light and they will do the most popular things, and the most popular things are regulating insurance companies. And Obama says we don't want discrimination. Nobody likes discrimination. We don't want cherry picking. And people like that. We want community rating. It sounds so good, we're all in the community together. But what people don't get is that that is an insurance. That's welfare. That's as if car insurance companies charged Lindsay Lohan what they charged you and me.

GLENN: No, no. No, no. No. This care is actually like if they charge Lindsay Lohan what they charge you and me and she can purchase it after the car wreck.

STOSSEL: Good point. Wait until the car accident. Then buy it.

GLENN: Right. That's the thing. It's going to cost you $8,000 and again I get this number from Dick Morris. So I haven't verified this myself. But I heard this this morning. But it's $8,000 if you make over $64,000 a year. You know, and then it's a $1,000 fine if you don't sign up for it. Well, why not just pay the $1,000, not sign up for it. If I get cancer, sign up for it?

STOSSEL: And because of this guaranteed issue rule when you get cancer, the insurance company has to take you.

GLENN: Right. So it is like Lindsay Lohan getting into the car drunk, wrapping her car around a tree and then calling the insurance company and saying, "I need some insurance for my car," and they're guaranteed to give it to her.

STOSSEL: And it compounds the basic problem of saying, "The answer is more insurance." Because insurance sucks as a form of capitalism. It's a necessary evil. It's necessary risk pooling. But it makes people not care about what things cost and that makes prices rise. It's why Lasik eye surgery prices are dropping but things covered by insurance companies go up. The one useful thing that insurance companies do is to apply incentives like charging a Lindsay Lohan more and charging you less if you take driver's ed or the fire insurance company charging somebody less if they have a stone house, good fire detectors. But the current insurance rule means the health insurance company can't reward you if you quit smoking or diet. It takes away the good pushing of incentives that insurance can do.

GLENN: No, our good friend Cass Sunstein is there to help you out on this. There is something in this bill that says if you make unhealthy choices that they can fine you for those unhealthy choices. They are using smoking and obesity and overeating. However, I just want to point out at the same time this came out, this week also the NIH has started doing a study on the health hazards of owning a gun.

STOSSEL: Oh, so they will charge you more for that.

GLENN: Well, you are harder to insure really.

STOSSEL: Maybe once you are in the plan, they can fine you. But they are going to have to take the smoker and the nonsmoker, my understanding is, and charge them the same thing, at least when they come into the plan. That's community rating. We're all in this together. We're a commune.

GLENN: You are you are such an angry bitter man, aren't you? I mean, you are somebody who's lived in New York and worked in the media far too long. Don't you think?

STOSSEL: I am angry about a lot.

GLENN: (Laughing). All right, John Stossel, we'll talk to you tonight, my friend.

STOSSEL: Great, thank you.

GLENN: You bet. Bye bye. I like him. You know what I like about John Stossel is he doesn't if he doesn't know? He says "I don't know."

STU: Yeah.

GLENN: That's why we feared him when we first had him on? Remember? We were like, he hates us. Because we would say, so what do you think of this? "I don't know."

STU: Right.

GLENN: And you'd be like, okay. All right, that's not a typical answer there, but

STU: Yeah, because you are used to, like, the typical person, you bring up a stat and they don't know it, they will just kind of, like, generalize around that point.

GLENN: You are so used to hearing people answer questions that

PAT: Like this: Let me be clear. What I have said in the past is...

GLENN: Exactly. You are so used to that that when somebody says, "Yeah," you're like, there's nothing else? I mean, that's it? Just, "Yes"? I mean, how many times do you say, "Just answer the question, yes or no," and that's what Stossel does. And it's ofting. It's bizarre in the media because I think he's one of the only people that do it.

He may not be a super hero like he plays in the movies, but Chris Pratt is proving once again why he's a hero to so many. The silver screen protector of the universe announced on his Instagram page a contest that will benefit the Brain Treatment Foundation, who is a partner of Mercury One that does amazing work with veterans. The Brain Treatment Foundation specializes in helping combat veterans who are suffering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The contest asks fans to donate $10 to the foundation for a chance to win a trip to drop in on the Guardians of the Galaxy star on the set of his new film Tomorrow War.

Watch his video below to hear all the details.


Ryan: The Ascent of Kanye West

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Apollo, god of poetry, light, prophecy, dance. Star of Greek mythology, rivaled only by Zeus, his father. God of justice. God of purification, knowledge, healing. God of the Sun. But most of all, god of music. So they called him the Leader of the Muses.

And on a bright Sunday morning midway through November, at the tail end of a decade, Kanye West looked out at the congregation of Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, a 16,000-seater originally built for the Houston Rockets, and said, "Jesus has won the victory: Now the greatest artist God ever created is now working for him."

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye's newest album, Jesus Is King, had been out for three weeks, and like every Kanye album, it was controversial, as adored as it was unaccepted.

Critics had shown a mostly tepid response, but nobody could tell if their disinterest was genuine, or if it was politically motivated.

After all, for the past year, Kanye had once again managed to penetrate the epicenter of American society. The last two Presidents had literally shamed and cursed Kanye, but, still, who could've guessed he would befriend this one?

Photo by Caroline Ryan

The week after Kanye's Olsteen appearance, at the House impeachment hearings, as the entire country watched and listened, Congressmen and diplomats would mention longtime Kanye collaborator A$AP Rocky no less than five times, in casual reference to the Kardashians and the deal between Trump and Sweden, struck at the urging of Kanye West.

Meanwhile, Jesus is King became the ninth consecutive Kanye album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 — a feat he shares with Eminem and The Beatles — and the sixth time in the 2010s alone. And, to be fair, his only studio album not to debut at number one was The College Dropout, his first, which went triple platinum and earned the third-most Grammy nominations in one night, winning Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song with "Jesus Walks."

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Jesus is King was also the first record ever to top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Rap Albums, Christian Albums, and Gospel Albums simultaneously. All eleven tracks charted on the US Billboard 100, joining the other 96 Kanye songs to have landed on the Top 100.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

This album was different, and not just because of Kenny G. For the first time, Kanye was not a god or a self-destructive fallen angel. He was a father, a husband, a son, and, most important, a man full of belief, with his hands outstretched, surrounded by a choir.

"I remember sitting in the hospital at UCLA after having a breakdown," he told the congregation, "and there's documentations of me drawing a church and writing about starting a church in the middle of Calabasas."

That night, following an afternoon of ice-skating at the Galleria, Kanye returned to Lakewood Church and performed a concert. Imagine hearing a his electro-gospel opera in an arena designed, acoustically, for professional basketball games. Only better, because everything had been padded. With LSD graphics on the swirly blue carpet.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When we experience art, it changes us.

So there I was, four rows from the stage, crying in front of FoxNews. Because Kanye had brought his Sunday Service choir with him, and they were singing "Ultralight Beam," one of the few perfect songs ever made, a song that played during my wedding ceremony, the song my daughter, God willing, will be born to, a song I have never once listened to without at least tearing up.

“Jesus Is King" A Sunday Service Experience at Lakewood Church with Kanye West youtu.be

"This is a God dream, this is a God dream. This is everything."

Kanye was the only person onstage dressed in his own clothing, a neatened blazer. The choir were draped in grey, like holy silhouettes.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

So who cares about FoxNews and their snotty reporters in their shoulder-padded blazers. The rest of us had drifted into the immediacy of it all. And I wasn't about to play stoic journalist here. I wasn't a reporter first and a human or an American later.

The choir zigzagged on the loft flanking the stage. Each of them had a headset microphone, like Garth Brooks.

God only knew how they sang so perfectly. How did they project their voices like that? More beautiful than anything we had ever heard, more beautiful than water.

After "Ultralight Beam," it was "Every Hour," the mesmeric opening track of Jesus Is King.

Sing every hour, Every minute, Every second, Sing each and every millisecond, We need you

Every Hour youtu.be

The performance felt all the more sacred because this was church, where people gathered to lose themselves, to sing as a chorus, to confront who they really are.

Across the street, one protestor stood hollering.

Meanwhile thousands of people waited at the entrance, giddy to get in. They would join us in no time. Soon, they would fill every seat in this church.

*

That morning, Kanye told Olsteen,

"It's like the devil stole all the good producers, all the good musicians, all the good artists, all the good designers, all the good business people and said, 'you gotta come over and work for me.' And now the trend, the shift, is going to change."

Jesus Is King was the result of a new cultural and artistic movement that more or less started with 2016's Life of Pablo, Kanye's closeted gospel album. Which was a surprising departure from 2013's Yeezus, with its tangled social commentary and fashionable solipsism. And that drum sound, the one every half-decent producer has spent the last six years failing to emulate.

The 2010's saw him grow more cerebral. He even teased a book of philosophy titled Break the Simulation.

Then, in 2018, he released Ye, the second of five albums in a Kanye-produced series, all recorded at his Wyoming studio. In keeping with the criticisms of hip-hop he voiced on "Ye vs. The People"

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye eschewed many of the themes he'd embraced for so long, replacing them with meditations on mental illness, fatherhood, suicide, love, and addiction. The album's working title had been "LOVE EVERYONE."

On "I Thought About Killing You," he raps,

The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest.

The title "Ye" is not just the diminutive of "Kanye."

As he said in an interview

I believe 'ye' is the most commonly used word in the Bible, and, in the Bible, it means 'you,' so it's [saying] "I'm you, I'm us, it's us." It went from being Kanye, which means the only one, to just ye – just being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused, everything, that I'm just more of a reflection of who we are, just as beings.

Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer wrote that

All individuality is a manifestation of universal life, and hence everyone carries a tiny bit of everyone else with him, so that divination is simulated by comparison with oneself.

In the months following the release of Ye, Kanye would live out this idea, and build his own movement, a reflection of who we are, then begin his church in Calabasas.

*

At 10:30 that morning, the three of us — Samantha Sullivan, my wife Caroline, and me —- strolled into the arena and claimed seats in the media section.

That place resembled the inside of an ant colony. We were three ants.

The service began with errorless music, then shifted into a quick, stirring message by Osteen, who always seemed to appear onstage from nowhere, privvy to the kind of big-money stage tricks you find at a Shania Twain concert.

The entire place and all the Jumbo-Trons and all the people, it all had a cinematic presence.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

A preliminary giddiness spread through the room. Then, Kanye emerged, there on the stage, and the place erupted.

A man in a "Jesus is King" shirt danced around his seat.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Everyone took their seats, but one man standing in the crowd shouted affirmations. "Speak truth my brother," he shouted.

The man shouted several more times, then Kanye politely told the guy to hold off on the support because it wasn't helping, because Kanye needed relative quiet to capture and release his flow.

The ceiling glowed in skittish purple.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye described the corrupting force of the media. A chill came over the room. Behind him, the unapologetic blue of Jesus Is King.

It was my first encounter with Joel Osteen, and I was surprised and somewhat baffled to find him likeable, based on everything I'd ever heard about the man.

Kanye said as much, that Osteen is nothing like the version of Osteen many people have broadcast.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Osteen laughed, "When you've got Kanye defending you, you've made it, man."

Rays of light danced through the arena. I'm talking Pink Floyd light show levels.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

With 21 Grammys, Kanye is tied with Jay-Z as the most decorated hip-hop artist of all time.

Osteen asked Kanye what he would say to his younger self, if he could go back in time.

"You know, it's nothing I can say to the younger Kanye through words," he said. "I could speak to the younger Kanye through music."

*

Osteen played the middle section of "God Is," arguably the focal point of the album.

And Kanye danced and rapped along with it. And the surreality of the situation was daunting. Was that really Kanye West up there? with Joel Osteen? dancing to his gospel song?

Six or seven years ago, I saw Kanye a mile away at the Toyota Center — coincidentally, the current home of the Houston Rockets — for his and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne tour. It was a much different experience than this.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When Kanye finished, the media flooded out. As did a quarter of the people in the congregation. This bothered many of the regulars.

Security and ushers yanked big grey mop buckets from cabinets, and dispersed them down aisles, and money music played.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Then the time for prayer. Prayer leaders lined the walls and pews. And anyone could walk over to them and pray. Men and women clung to strangers, crying sometimes, hugging. Holding hands, whispering phrases.

*

One of the media coordinators pulled us out of the sermon, led us through passageways and elevators, past classrooms and security guards, through a black sheet, then behind a barricade.

This is where all the media had rushed off to like old folks trying to get the best seat for bingo.

Each news outlet was allowed one question.

After 15 minutes, the energy changed and you could tell they were near.

Then, Kim Kardashian-West was walking our way, holding her daughter's hand, followed by Kanye, who was followed by Osteen.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

"Nice tags," Kanye said, referring to my "GOOD" necklace.

Then:

Brief interview with Kanye West and Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, Nov. 17 in Houston, TX www.youtube.com

Some of the outlets asked more than one question, but that was on them. They were the ones sinning in church.

*

As Kanye and Olsteen shuffled away, down the line of journalists, I said hello to a small crew from FoxNews as they packed their equipment.

"We're from TheBlaze," I said, smiling. To which they sneered and glanced at one another then got back to their conversation.
Samantha rolled her eyes and the three of us wandered around for an exit.

"Did we just get stiff-armed by Fox News?" Said one of us. "I didn't think they were allowed to look down on anybody."
"I've had that with people from Fox on several occasions," one of us replied.

"I mean, I thought I was doing them a favor a favor by acknowledging them. Nobody else does."

Then it happened again, a few minutes later, this time with someone we had worked with, someone who knew us.
You bet we were salty.

Bad as it felt to be judged like that, it was good to be underestimated. A relief. It meant we could perform without anyone caring or watching.

They had no idea who we were or what we were really doing. Good.

*

In November 2007, Kanye's mother died during a routine surgery. He and his mom, Dr. Donda West, had always been incredibly close. She raised him alone, after Kanye's father left, when Kanye was three.

A few months later, his engagement with Alexis Phifer abruptly ended.

He was 30 at the time.

Oddly, this tragic sequence of events would cause the birth of auto-tune in rap. Broken-hearted, Kanye wanted to sing. So he ran his voice through a vocoder.

Kanye's album 808s & Heartbreak, which like Jesus is King has no curse words, shoved music ahead at least two decades, into a world of synth-driven robotic R&B/Rap love songs belted out in janky auto-tune. That description doesn't sound ridiculous today. But that's only because Kanye eschewed the stale hip-hop of the early 2000s and reinvented the genre, something he has accomplished with every album.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Then, he went on tour. But he never took off any time following his mother's death. And, by the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, he'd fallen to what he calls his sunken place.

He and then-girlfriend Amber Rose brought a bottle of Hennessy with them to the award show. They took slugs in the limo. Then on the red carpet.

When Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video, Kanye stormed the podium, sunglasses on, and grabbed the microphone, said "Imma let you finish," then let everyone know the award should've gone to Beyoncé, for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."

He was kicked out immediately. He tweeted, "Everybody wanna booooo me but I'm a fan of real pop culture... I'm not crazy y'all, I'm just real."

Followed by an apology. Then a few days later, during an appearance on debut episode of "The Jay Leno Show"

Leno asked Kanye, "What do you think [your mom] would have said about this?"

That hit Kanyelike a punch to the jaw. He teared up, froze.

He publicly apologized to Swift. Several times.

But it did little to quell the blowback. Once again, it felt like the entire nation hated Kanye. Compounded by a hot-mic recording of Barack Obama — the country's first black President — calling Kanye a jackass.

So the embattled Kanye retreated to Hawaii to record a masterpiece, 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

*

"We are a Christian country," Kanye said at one point, to uproarious applause.

The vast majority of Americans, 90 percent, believe in a higher power.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

And America has the largest number of Christians in the world, with roughly 167,000,000, comprising 65-to-70 percent of the population. But that's down from 80 percent, as part of a downward trend over the last two decades.

The percent of Americans who attend a religious service of any kind — church, synagogue, or mosque — is even lower, less than half.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

One political scientist blamed the public's growing distrust in institutions. Another blamed conservatives. A writer from New York Magazine took it a step further.

Meanwhile, David French.

As always, the issue is far more nuanced than either side will admit.

Somehow, in the last twenty years, church and religion had become not just uncool, but slightly villainous.

All day, every time I looked around — at people singing, at people dancing, at people crying in joy or in the relief and recognition of their pain — I thought, "How could this ever be a bad thing?"

Photo by Caroline Ryan

I had spent my life going to concerts, had seen Kanye West numerous times, and this was something other than a concert, and unlike anything I'd seen from Kanye. It was also more than just religious or spiritual.

A family of strangers in a city of 6 million, in a world of 7-and-a-half billion, broadcast live, led by a man who fought off the devil in front of us for years. Who struggled with life just like we do, only we could nitpick through the one-way mirrors of our phones and our TVs.

But, now, he had been baptized in public.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Some people were still negative about Kanye's recent faith, especially Christians. As Kanye raps on "Hands On"

What have you been hearin' from the Christians?
They'll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me

Consensus was, they couldn't believe him. As a Kanye fan since I was 13, I can tell you that he is genuine. It's really his only setting. Plus, his spiritual transformation has been building for quite some time.

*

By the time we returned to Lakewood that evening, the sky had turned dark blue, and frantic with airplanes.

The sidewalks around the arena overflowed with people. Police cars jutted out in crooked lines to block entrances or exits, the strobe of red-white-blue whirling onto pedestrians' faces.

Across the street, facing the giant arena, a man with a bullhorn ranted about the evils of sinful music.

Earlier that day, sheepish protestors had occupied the spot, holding red poster-sized letters that spelled out "I M P E A C H." There were only four of them, though, so they had to double up and share, and sometimes the "H" slanted down or the "I" slipped loose.

"Impeach Kanye?" one of us said, laughing.

"Kanye 2020," shouted someone.

The air was electric. People bounced when they stepped, or walked faster than normal, or turned oddly as they spoke like a third-year professor.

They sang along as they passed traffic-jam cars, most of which were blasting Kanye.

A chorus of police whistles and the usual rumble of semi-trucks passing on US-59. Just down the street, porn shops and strip clubs and a Ferrari dealership. Immediately Southwest, the Mahatma Ghandi District. West, the Galleria, home of the opulent Galleria mall, where Kanye and Kim and family gone ice-skating earlier.

Inside the arena, a different world, low-lit and glowing. A dreamscape of lambent crimsons and violets, a deeper, warmer, slower take on the lights atop the police cars outside. Globular squares of blue were arrayed along the ceiling.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When the musicians emerged to their instruments, the arena was still half-empty. The show had already been delayed 40 minutes. The demand to get in was so ferocious that the security gate was jammed up like a glass Ketchup jar.

Then, like spirits, men and women drifted onstage in all-grey uniforms and matching hats that looked like they should say "VIETNAM VETERAN" but actually said "Sunday Service."

Every single member wore brand-new grey YEEZY Boosts.

From the start, the performance was cinematic, a sort of new-world opera sung by a chorus of young American muses with nose rings or gold chains or dreadlocks or pink hair.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

From the huddle, a young man rose, and began reciting a poem. It was the invocation of the muse.

Gadamer wrote that poetry "becomes a test of what is true, in that the poem awakens a secret life in words that had seemed to be used up and worn out, and tells us of ourselves"

*

After a whirling rendition of Carl Orff's "O Fortuna," the choir began "Ultralight Beam."

They let the song spread. It grew enormous.

The air swirled as the song widened.

Kanye waited out of view, then appeared without ceremony.

A collective gasp when people recognized the melody of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed." Which sounds like a dream already, with all that wilderness.

So it was even stranger when the song morphed into SWV's "Weak," a skating rink anthem written by Charlie Wilson of the GAP Band. A classic.

The choir were their own countervailing force. Yet they also connected us to the drama of the performance.
Looking back, I wish I could live in those moments forever.

*

Then came their cover of "Father Stretch My Hands" by Pastor T.L. Barrett And the Youth for Christ Choir.

Father Stretch My Hands www.youtube.com

Kanye has paid homage to Barrett's track on two different songs, from two different albums.

It was his prayer.

Pastor T.L. Barrett, a man who's lived an exciting and at times difficult life, only to become a Pentecostal preacher on Chicago's south side, and form a choir of 40 teenagers from his weekly choir practice.

If you dive into Barrett, you'll better understand what Kanye is doing.

*

Ten seats from Kim Kardashian-West, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX) stared ahead in a neat grey suit, occasionally poking at his phone and blasting people on Twitter.

Which means there were at least two people in the building who have appeared on Saturday Night Live.

There were other politicians, including Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick. And even more at the earlier service. You could tell they were politicians the same you can tell a vegan burger from a real Whopper. Several times, Kanye held up his phone up and read the words from his newer songs.

Like "Selah," which built into "Hallelujah"s at the end, intoxicating and perfect, like being sucked into an undertow. Which led into "Follow God," a continuation of "Father I Stretch My Hands."

Kanye uses the image of stretched hands to express his own submission and the process that leads to his healing. As a reference to John 21:18

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.

But the song is also about Kanye's literal father, and an argument they had. Then, under it all, he adds a sample of "Can You Lose By Following God" by Whole Truth. He ended the song with his Kanye shriek, somewhat confusing and abrasive with a choir present.

Then — something I did not expect. The thumping bass of Cajmere's "Brighter Days (Underground Goodie Mix)."

And now this was cosmic gospel.

It felt like a rave. Have you been to a rave? It's people dancing, taking MDMA. That is what it felt like.

Flourishes like that were part of Kanye's genius. No other gospel performance would dare. You won't find that kind of diversity at any other hip-hop show, either. The acoustic instruments, the choir. Maybe during a set by electronic musicians like Moodyman or DJ Koze. But, no choir. Yet here Kanye was, at Joel Osteen's church, blasting classic techno.

Oddly enough, though, the most popular song of the night was "Closed on Sunday," Kanye's ode to Chic-Fil-A.

Everyone in the arena knew the words. So then there were two choirs, in a dialogue. I didn't think it was possible, but the collective harmony got even more intense and engulfing than it had all night. So much so that the house speakers started to peak in one corner of the arena.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

The Ancient Greeks were the first to use a chorus. In the 5th Century B.C., 50 actors would gather in the orchestra pit and sing in unison, commenting on the action of the play, describing scenes to the audience. They were a collective force. They represented one character, who was able to connect the audience to the characters and events onstage.

Kim Kardashian was front and center filming with her phone, as two of the West kids jumped around on the trippy blue carpet.

The performance was nearing its end, and suddenly Kanye was dressed like everybody else in the choir. Grey Yeezy kit and the Sunday Service hat. His transformation. From Kanye West to Pastor Ye, stretching hands.

Then, he was gone.
One by one, the choir began fluttering off the stage, to the Clark Sisters' "You Brought the Sunshine."

Half were gone, when I noticed the singer with braided hair crying. With every exhale, she collapsed her hands into the floor. Let them fall like tired flowers. Arrayed in fitful blue. She gasped. She heaved her shoulders like a wingspan. For a moment it was like she would actually take flight.

A security guard peered over the railing from above the stage. He looked like God.Symbolically, he was.

New installments of this series on the 2020 elections come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

Don't believe in time travel? Think it's just a wild conspiracy theory reserved for late night alien radio programs? Well, we have unearthed bombshell evidence that will blow you away and have you questioning everything!

A 120-year-old photo PROVES climate change activist teen Greta Thunberg is actually a time traveler warning all generations of the dangers of global warming.

Glenn did some exhaustive research and found several other photos and subjects in historical paintings. Check them out here and see if you are now a believer:

Warning Elvis fans

Ryan: Suction energy, pt. 1

Photo by Sean Ryan

After his speech at the Boone County fairgrounds, Joe Biden nodded and people engulfed him like he was their oxygen. Journalists shouted questions, photographers shoved people aside. Biden's bodyguards even drew closer. I found a good oak tree and hid out in the shade, 100 yards from the chaotic huddle.

Photo by Sean Ryan

They shoved closer and closer and closer, with a vacant urgency to their eyes. They had to get as close as possible. It was like some force of nature had taken control of everyone, and now their only goal was to merge their lifeforce with Biden's.

The frenzy of writhing arms and contorted bodies reminded me of Shark Week, when the hulking Great White breaks through the protective cage and how's the diver gonna make it out alive this time?

*

A need for convergence, often leading to upheaval.

Most of the Democratic candidates caused this effect. As did their opponent, to a far greater degree. Because he was the president, and he was Donald Trump, so, for the time being, he embodied this magnetism more fully than anyone else in the entire world.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every time Trump entered a room or a building or a space of any kind, every person within a reasonable distance felt it. And they couldn't help but bob their head around, and arch up on their tiptoes, scouring till they saw him, and then all they could do was lean forward and wonder if it was actually him.

Some of the Democratic candidates had a stronger magnetism than others. Which meant the gravitational pull had laws that guided it. The term I started using for it was "suction energy."

It was something you could physically feel.

At the Iowa State Fair, Bernie Sanders' suction energy was so intense, so visceral that it reminded me of a hurricane.

Photo by Sean Ryan

People wanted to be as close to the man as possible. They wanted a picture. Proof that it happened—that they had actually seen someone that famous.

And they were perfectly right. And their reactions were understandable and lovely even, and altogether innocent. Encouraging. Because they were genuine.

Even journalists were susceptible to suction energy. In fact, they could spazz even harder. Unlike the public, they were there as workers.

*

Suction energy is an art, something you cultivate. But it's also a result of luck and reality. Some people will just never have an ounce of it.

Take, for instance, Jay Insleey, who was apparently a Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 election. At some point in my travels, I wound up in the same place as him.

Maybe it was a couple times. A couple, two, three. I can't remember.

All I know is that I went to Clear Lake, Iowa for the Democratic Wing Ding, to see Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren and the 20 other candidates, and this guy Jay Insless ... sorry, I mean Inslee took the stage at some point. It's hard to say when exactly because, as I mentioned, he was impressively forgettable, like a human thumbtack.

Wing Ding featured Jay Insee?Photo by Sean Ryan

He was yammering about something, and, man, he looked and sounded like P.C. Principal, from South Park, and that was pretty funny.

I told my dad, and then we were both laughing. Then my dad did an imitation of P.C. Principal, and we were really hooting.
Then all I could think about was P.C. Principal. So I ducked out into the hall to watch a P.C. Principal clip compilation, and I laughed and laughed and nobody went "Shush!," because there were plenty of others like me.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And, boy, I laughed. I was actually a bit sad when the clip was over. I'd forgotten where I was, and when I caught a glimpse of the guy onstage, my sadness deepened into pity. The feeling you get when you realize that the amateur thinks he can beat the professional. When the replacements think they will know valor. When your dog thinks they're going to the park, but really it's the vet, and they wake up without balls.

Do we have an obligation, a moral imperative, to tell a Square when she's trying to shove into a Triangle hole? How much teeth-lettuce does a person lodge into their incisors before you are inclined to alert them?

Like, after this speech, that guy John Insley, would wander around the walkways of the Surf Ballroom, same as Kamala Harris and Andrew Yang, only he'd lack their glow.

Crowds flocking to Kamala HarrisPhoto by Sean Ryan

At one point, he'd clench his jaw into what must have been a smile, ready for any nearby journalists to sneak a candid photo or rush forward for a quote.

Photo by Sean Ryan

If any of the others noticed, they didn't let on. So here was this chubby kid in a costume knocking on the front door, and I know full well Halloween was weeks ago, but who's gonna feed the harmless lie if I don't?

Photo by Sean Ryan

Nobody, that's who.

So I groaned and shrugged and told my dad, "Let's give the tubby kid some Starburst."

"Wha?" he asked.

Then I asked would he get a picture of that candidate over there.

"Who," he replied. As in, "I can't see an important person over there, which one is running for president?"

In other words, Insleep had absolutely zero suction energy. To a near-magical extent.

Within a few weeks, he would announce the end of his campaign on The Rachel Maddow Show.

Yet there he was, somehow center stage, looking out at the packed Surf Ballroom, where, on February 2, 1959, Buddy Holly played his last show.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Buddy Holly, now there's a man with suction energy. So much suction energy that, when he died, music went with him.

*

When I saw Kamala during the week of the Iowa State Fair, she was at the height of her campaign, having climbed to second place, within nine points of Biden.

Everywhere I went, there was Harris, with her personalized KAMALA bus, and her chartered press pool, and her entourage of staff and fans and media.

Photo by Sean Ryan

On the first Saturday of the Fair, my dad and I wound up seeing Harris five times. Five times! In part because she could hustle. She wanted that job. But also because she understood power and optics.

Before her speech at Jasper Winery, (when she played savage 4D chess with Andrew Yang, she spoke to several hundred people packed into the atrium of Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines, her fourth rally of that day.

Photo by Sean Ryan

When she finished her speech, a horde surged straight for her, eighty or so.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Just a month earlier, The New Yorker had run a glowing profile on Harris. That was huge. As of the release of this story, Harris was the only 2020 presidential candidate that The New Yorker had featured.

Photo by Sean Ryan

At that point of the election, excitement for Harris was so intense that it seemed obvious she would get the nomination, or close to it. So I wrote five pieces about her.

But by the time I finished all five stories and added them to the publishing schedule, Harris had sunk 11 points to 4 percent, which put her in 8th place. In New Hampshire, the first state to hold primaries, she was polling at 1 percent. By comparison, Biden, Warren, and Sanders were locked at 19.

Now, the only headlines were about her foundering campaign and her dwindling cash and her downsized staff. In each case, the sentiment was the same, "Whatever happened to Kamala Harris?"

Which answer a question I posed in my first story. Would Harris "I got this one in the bag" attitude help her or ruin her? Turns out the ostentatious bus and the unnecessary press accommodations had been a premature move, and now she just seemed cocky.
Because suction energy can, and often does, vanish in an instant.

A Bernie can always become a Jay InslepInslee. Nobody is immune, no matter how powerful they appear. Look at Bill Cosby. Harvey Weistein. Both were godlike in their power. Both had a gravitational pull so intense that they raped women for decades and nobody did a thing. Cosby's suction energy was so intense that he collected honorary degrees like a vacuum collects dog hair. 70 of them. Then, off to prison to eat pudding in the dark.

By the time I saw Harris at the Democratic Debate in Houston, a month after she stormed Iowa, she'd begun transforming into Joe Biden, focused on all the wrong things, laughing at her own jokes, without realizing that nobody else was laughing.

New installments of this series on the 2020 elections come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com