Why Americans Admire Glenn Beck More Than the Pope
He's liberated by not believing most of what he spews
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2010 6:58 AM CST
In this May 5, 2009 file photo, commentator Glenn Beck attends the Time 100 Gala, a celebration of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in New York.   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, FILE)

(Newser) – Why has Glenn Beck left all the other right-wing talkers in the dust as he amasses both audience and influence? It's simple, says Dana Milbank: "He goes places where others are forbidden by conscience." Beck doesn't even believe the flamboyant conspiracies and distortions he floats, Milbank argues. "He's a brilliant entertainer, and he has calculated, correctly, that a large number of Americans would turn on cable news for more of the insults and conspiracies they get online."

What does it say about Americans that a Gallup poll found Beck second only to Nelson Mandela in admired figures? The appetite for venom and outrage, not to speak of wacky Nazi comparisons, has won him not only passionate viewers but Oprah-like cultural influence and a nascent political movement that plans to hold conventions and rallies in 2010, Milbank notes, causing him to invoke Beck himself: "I fear for my country."