Last week, Salon published an interesting profile of Cleon Skousen, who has emerged as the ideological mentor of Glenn Beck. You will not be surprised to learn that WorldNetDaily loves Skousen as well.
WND is currently including as a bonus for subscribing to its Whistleblower magazine "the book Glenn Beck has been raving about," Skousen's "The 5,000 Year Leap"(also available in the WND store). WND says of the book:
The author explains in clear, concise terms all that came together to create a nation that literally accomplished a 5,000-year leap in progress. Skousen covers in detail what went into the design of the U.S. Constitution, highlighting the original sources for the principles that inspired the United States, and showing how the Founders developed these principles from the studies of Cicero, Locke, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith.
Well, actually, not so much. At Salon, Alexander Zaitchik says of the book:
"Leap," first published in 1981, is a heavily illustrated and factually challenged attempt to explain American history through an unspoken lens of Mormon theology. As such, it is an early entry in the ongoing attempt by the religious right to rewrite history. Fundamentalists want to define the United States as a Christian nation rather than a secular republic, and recast the Founding Fathers as devout Christians guided by the Bible rather than deists inspired by French and English philosophers. "Leap" argues that the U.S. Constitution is a godly document above all else, based on natural law, and owes more to the Old and New Testaments than to the secular and radical spirit of the Enlightenment. It lists 28 fundamental beliefs -- based on the sayings and writings of Moses, Jesus, Cicero, John Locke, Montesquieu and Adam Smith -- that Skousen says have resulted in more God-directed progress than was achieved in the previous 5,000 years of every other civilization combined. The book reads exactly like what it was until Glenn Beck dragged it out of Mormon obscurity: a textbook full of aggressively selective quotations intended for conservative religious schools like Utah's George Wythe University, where it has been part of the core freshman curriculum for decades (and where Beck spoke at this year's annual fundraiser).
Zaitchik goes on to note that "Skousen had authored more than a dozen books and pamphlets on the Red Menace, New World Order conspiracy, Christian child rearing, and Mormon end-times prophecy."
Skousen is also known for another screed, called "The Naked Capitalist," whcih Zaitchik calls "a foundational document of America's NWO conspiracy and survivalist scene" (which makes it somewhat of a surprise that WND doesn't sell it). Indeed, Zaitchik writes that "The Naked Capitalist" is a screed against "the dynastic rich" and "liberal internationalist groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations" (WND sells other works that conspiracy-monger about the CFR too, so its failure to stock this is doubly puzzling).
Then again, Skousen's work does have a bit of bad press surrounding it. A highly respected Brigham Young University history professor named Louis C. Midgley reviewed the book in 1971 and was not kind, pointing out that Skousen's personal position seems to me perilously close to the 'exclusive uniformity' which I see in Nazism and in the Radical Right in this country. In fact, his position has echoes of the original Nazi 25-point plan."