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Originally published Friday, September 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Book review

Supreme satire: Buckley skewers our highest court

In his new novel "Supreme Courtship," political satirist Christopher Buckley makes wicked fun of the highest court in the land.

Special to The Seattle Times

Author appearance

Christopher Buckley

The author of "Supreme Courtship" will read at 7 p.m. Tuesday at

the Microsoft auditorium of

the Seattle Public Library. Free; co-presented by the Washington Center for the Book

of the Seattle Public Library (206-386-4636; and Elliott Bay Book Co. (206-624-6600;

"Supreme Courtship"

by Christopher Buckley

Twelve, 285 pp., $24.99

Christopher Buckley is America's greatest living political satirist. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Buckley has already made wicked fun of, among other things, White House sexual hijinks ("No Way to Treat a First Lady"), Washington lobbyists ("Thank You for Smoking"), U.S. policy in the Middle East ("Florence of Arabia"), UFO believers ("Little Green Men") and baby boomers ("Boomsday").

So it makes sense that his latest book roasts another hot political potato, the Supreme Court, to a crisp. While "Supreme Courtship" doesn't quite reach the inspired lunacy of "Boomsday" or "Thank You for Smoking," it's still mighty nifty.

First-term President Donald Vanderdamp — a decent guy who likes bowling — can't fill a space on the Supreme Court. Dexter Mitchell, the creepy chairman of the Senate Judicial Committee (and a man with presidential ambitions of his own), keeps shooting down nominees (one is rejected for being insufficiently moved by "To Kill a Mockingbird").

A frustrated Vanderdamp then makes an audacious move. He nominates America's favorite reality-TV judge — a smart, homespun and really hot Texan named Pepper Cartwright. That'll show 'em!

As the prez predicts, Mitchell goes ballistic. As for Cartwright, who really was a judge before becoming a TV star: She's baffled by Vanderdamp's actions, and terrified at the thought of a confirmation hearing. But she's game.

The straight-shootin' judge turns out to be the popular choice. People tune in to the proceedings and tell their representatives they like what they see. Said representatives, terrified of defying their constituencies, cannot reject her. Net result: Pepper Cartwright becomes one of the Supremes.

Then Congress, totally miffed with Vanderdamp and eager to get rid of him, rushes to push through a constitutional amendment forbidding second terms for presidents. Vanderdamp wasn't planning on running anyway but decides to do so on principle, and Justice Cartwright is caught in the middle of the debate.

Meanwhile, Cartwright and her husband, a cheesy TV producer, separate. He turns around and convinces Mitchell, the creepy senator who wants to be commander in chief, to star in a dramatic series about ... wait for it ... the president! It becomes a hit. Then he and Vanderdamp face off in the real election, and things get a little wacky.

There's much more to "Supreme Courtship," which I can't reveal without ruining the pleasure. Just take my word for it, and the word is: delicious.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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