Gore Vidal Behind the Orange Curtain: 5 Great Lines from Author's Nixon Library Visit (WTF?)

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Perhaps one of Orange County's most incongruous moments happened the evening of Aug. 26, 2009, when George McGovern and the now-late Gore Vidal entertained a packed house at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda--yes, that Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda.

Vidal died of pneumonia Tuesday at his Hollywood Hills home. He was 86.

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Photo by Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
George McGovern and Gore Vidal appeared at the Nixon Library in August 2009.
Rather than wallow in despair over losing a celebrated and prolific author (and often ornery Son of a Biscuit), we've decided to recycle some classic Vidal from that magical night in Dick's place.

Gore Vidal, George McGovern and Spirit of Ted Kennedy Take Over the Nixon Library

Fellow historian and then-Nixon Library director Timothy Naftali, who arranged Vidal's surprise visit, and McGovern also peeled off some gems.

To the crowd of 700 inside the faux East Room, Naftali asked, "Are you sure you're in the right place?"

McGovern, who was promoting his book Abraham Lincoln, acknowledged the warm reception he received at the final resting place of the 37th president of the United States as well as earlier in the day at Chapman University in Orange.

"I've discovered this Lincoln-McGovern ticket is very popular," said the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, who of course, lost badly to the incumbent Nixon.

Gore Vidal and George McGovern Are the Stars, But Spirit of Ted Kennedy Also Fills Nixon Library

But back to Vidal, who managed to bring the room of mostly white hairs to its feet (when he was wheeled in) and then confounded the same folks (as, barely audible, he read a painfully long passage from George Bernard Shaw's 1898 play, Caesar and Cleopatra. It was if Vidal was fulfilling a lifelong pledge that if he ever set foot in the Nixon Library, he would read the whole goddamn thing. To himself!).

On the next page we begin five more entertaining things that came out of Vidal's mouth that evening . . .

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5 comments
BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Nixon doesn't look so bad compared to today's crop. Scary.

atonkovi
atonkovi

Perfect.  Thanks, Mr. C.  Cheers me right up.  I was there that night, with my wife and our little son and former Times reporter Janet Wilson.  The kid got to shake hands with the putative peace candidate for the presidency of the United States of America.  I wrote a blog post over at Dissent the Blog afterward, describing the evening in a highly readable and yet nearly factual style readers of OC Bookly have come to  love, or at least "like"! 

http://dissenttheblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/yorba-linda-california-when-past-is.html

JackGrimshaw
JackGrimshaw

 @BillxT

 You must be referring to Norm Nixon. The other one (paranoid / insecure / delusional / vindictive / crooked / racist)? You cannot be serious ...

MatthewTCoker
MatthewTCoker topcommenter

 @atonkovi Thanks for sharing, Tonk, and reminding me to bookmark Dissent (as you all should).

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

 @JackGrimshaw

 Gdub, Bachman, Palin, ..., the list goes on. Note I didn't say that the old trickster was any prize.

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