Quick, name a dead Mormon crank who's driving American politics. Wait, I've got one: W. Cleon Skousen, (1913 2006) a lawyer and former low-level FBI administrative drone who went on to teach ancient scripture at Brigham Young University and ultimately write the definitive work behind"Glen Beck! Skousen's thought is an amalgam of a lawyer's take on Mormon Biblical theory, twisted anthropology, the John Birch Society, and conspiracy theory. Once he was mentor to Senator Orrin Hatch; today he is mentor to generation of conservative "ultras," to borrow a term from Skousen's heyday. And they are converging on Washington as we speak.
Skousen's 1981 book, "The 5,000 Year Leap," was rescued from the dustbin of history by Beck, through whose good offices the work has now sold 1.5 million copies. It forms an ideological lynchpin for a converging cabal of Tea Partiers, Christian Identity types, Alaskan militias, and hard-right Mormons. If you've paid any attention to Beck's 912 Project, you're seeing Skousen's ideas in action. If you've followed Tea Party Senators like Mike Lee (R-Utah), you're seeing Skousen in action. Lee has achieved sufficient notoriety to merit a feature article in the New York Times Magazine. The piece, " Radical Constitutionalism ," appeared in the November 28 th issue.
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