From the Mind Of... Christopher Buckley

Author of the novel Thank You For Smoking We asked author Christopher Buckley to write about the new film Thank You For Smoking which is based on his best-selling novel and now in theatres in Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. Since Thank You For Smoking (the book, that is) was published in 1994, I've been asked many times if there exists in real life a MOD Squad of the kind depicted in the book. The MOD Squad here stands for "Merchants of Death," and it's the name my fictional lobbyists from the tobacco, alcohol and firearms industries give to themselves. I researched the book by following various of these so-called "sin lobbyists" around. But the MOD Squad was my own invention. At least, I never came across three lobbyists who collectively called themselves that. Last night, Business Week magazine assembled a real-life Mod Squad at the Palm Restaurant in Washington, D.C. I am a faithful and happy employee of Forbes, I would point out, but it seemed like a fun idea. And was. We were: Tom, from tobacco; Chris, from the NRA, and Drew, who represents the liquor industry. They had just come from a screening of the movie. I held my breath and asked, "So, what did you think?" They loved it. I relaxed, ordered a huge Martini, and we had a very congenial chat that lasted for three and half hours, and, to judge from how my head feels, at least three and a half bottles of something. I've always said that I'd rather hang out with sin lobbyists than non-sin-lobbyists, and last night proved me right. I dimly recall through the fog of Merlot that there were two Business Week reporters at the table, who asked thoughtful, even penetrating questions. I also dimly recall there being two tape recorders going. So if you're interested, check out next week's Business Week, at which point my head might feel a little better. - Christopher Buckley

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