Muckraking journalist Greg Palast specializes in stories that get disturbingly little play in the U.S. media. In 2001, for example, he was the first to reveal how Florida Republicans used outside contractors to disenfranchise thousands of minority voters in that state, tilting the 2000 election to George W. Bush. Since then he has doggedly pursued connections between the Bush administration, the Saudi royal family, terrorist organizations, the energy and arms industries, election officials, international finance, and the religious right–explorations documented in Armed Madhouse (Dutton Adult), a follow-up to his 2004 salvo The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, and in reports available at It’s not conspiracy mongering, just old-fashioned investigative journalism that relies on the kind of information that’s available to any reporter willing to dig for it. Taken as a whole, Palast’s body of work reads as one big story of elites working synergistically in their own interests while sticking it to the rest of us. Fortunately, Palast understands that such bitter medicine goes down a lot easier with a big dose of humor, which he consistently finds in the sheer absurdity of the power brokers’ machinations. This helps to make him a very entertaining public speaker: he walks his audience through the complex twists and turns of his material with a jazzy intensity reminiscent of Lenny Bruce. Sun 6/11, 3 PM, Barbara’s Bookstore, 1218 S. Halsted, 312-413-2665.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Daragh McDonough.