Making Friends and Enemies - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Making Friends and Enemies


Almost every day I run into some kindly soul who asks me if I am still doing Win Ben Stein’s Money. The answer is no. I haven’t been doing it for about fourteen years. The kindly inquiring soul then usually asks what I am doing if I am not doing a TV show.

I say that I write for two magazines regularly, appear every week on Fox News and once every several weeks on CBS Sunday Morning, and write speeches and travel an astonishing amount to deliver them. Usually, I am extremely exhausted after I give a few speeches on the road so then I have to rest for a good long while. I lie in bed with Julie, and I am happy.

My destiny is to be in bed with Julie. But that’s not my point. When I am traveling, I am extremely outgoing. I meet a lot of different people. In my mind, I am a young Southern politician. I go up to each person who looks at all interesting and say something like, “Hi, I’m George Wallace and if there’s anything I can do for you here in Clio, Alabama, just let me know.” I see each person I meet as a door into that person’s world, often magical and mystical.

Just a few examples: About ten days ago, I flew up to SFO and went on to the wine country to speak to some fabulously smart and kind and attractive men and women from Wells Fargo. As I walked through SFO in search of my driver, I came across a stunningly beautiful, absolute knockout young Eurasian woman. She was lying on a bench right next to where my driver was supposed to be, so I sat down next to her and chatted her up.

I spoke to her for at most—absolutely most—five minutes. She told me she was half-Vietnamese and half-Dutch. She gave me her contact info and we have been in touch almost every day since.

Here’s her story, in brief. Father was a Vietnamese Army soldier captured by the Communists in 1975. He was roughly handled at a re-education camp. But he got to leave and he made his way to the American Midwest. There, he married a sweet-faced woman of Dutch extraction.

They produced my little pal, whom I will call Lucia. The father died from the mental stress of the war and torture. The mother left Lucia with her aunt to marry a man who then came back with the mother and molested innocent little Lucia sexually. Then Lucia ran away from home and was homeless in Chicago for a period of time, and then became a call girl.

Then she stopped doing that and became a social activist and now she is working as a waiter and a stock clerk and also wants to be a writer.

Specifically, she wants Ben Stein to help her become a writer. She wants an agent—bad news for her since my literary agent, Lois Wallace, just died. She wants me to teach her how to be famous and successful as a writer—as if I knew. For a while I was churning out bestsellers right and left, especially about finance. But now I mostly write opinion pieces about defense and right to life and tax policy. I also write this diary about my daily life in Hollywood, politics, North Idaho, and Washington, D.C. I cannot teach Lucia how to write about her life the way I write about mine. 

Now, it may be that the young woman has talent and will write beautiful prose about her compelling story. I hope she does. Certainly, she has interesting subject matter. Just today, I got a text from her saying that it so happens that she’s pregnant. She had been up in SFO having a romantic rendezvous with a young man, but she decided she didn’t like him and he didn’t like her. So they broke up. But, now she’s pregnant. 

“I really didn’t like him that much,” she texted me. “I just wasn’t into him that much.”

“Well, you must have been into him pretty much and he must have been very much into you because you’re carrying his baby.”

“I know,” she said, “but I’ll just be a single mom. Will you help me out?”

I am so pro-life that I can never say no in these cases but I am worried about it.

So, that’s one little part of the many lives of Ben Stein.

In that same week where I met Lucia, I also met a breathtakingly beautiful middle-aged woman—well, maybe younger than that—at a bar. I was having a steak and she was having champagne. We talked and then we met the next day for lunch and she talked a lot more. She’s thirty-two. She’s a wild mixture of ethnicities and has a figure that is close to unbelievable. She works at a very high-end specialty store in downtown San Fran. She is a divorcee. She has a four-and-a-half-year-old daughter. She wants to be a movie star. She wants me to help with her bills. I was almost speechless at her beauty, but I also could not quite believe how many boyfriends she’s had, including very famous movie, TV, music, and sports stars. If that’s her type—and God bless her if it is—she’s not really likely to see much in a sixty-nine-year-old, overweight, nerdy economist/commentator who can barely put on his socks. I told her that and she just laughed. She said she wanted to come visit me in L.A.

I said that would be fine and she could meet my wife and we would take her out for a lovely dinner. 

“I want to stay at the Beverly Wilshire,” she said. “That’s my hotel in L.A. It’s right in the middle of Beverly Hills, which is where I like to be.”

“Honey,” I said after a quick text to my travel agent, “rooms there are about twelve hundred a night for when you want to be in L.A.”

“So?” she asked with a slightly hurt look.

Those negotiations, like all negotiations in the age of Obama, got stalled. But just today, she sent me a series of photos of herself having root canal surgery and then a screen shot of her bill so far—$2,300.

“I still want to come see you,” she said.

“We’ll see.”

These two episodes are typical of my life when I am traveling. My main obsessions in my life are my wife, my dog, my son and his family, my secret gf from Mississippi, and any beautiful girl I meet. I am like a teenager. I get mad crushes and they last about ten minutes. Maybe less. Then it’s off to do the next indicated action. Usually that consists of getting on an airplane.


Here I am in Augusta, Georgia. What a pretty town. I am here to speak. My flight in from LAX to ATL yesterday was uneventful except that Delta served me a “Philly Cheese Steak sandwich” that made me wildly sick to my stomach. Nightmare on a plane. How can Delta have let itself go to hell so terribly? It was once the best in the air. Now it is a flying slum, even in first class. The ONLY thing good about the flight was the hilariously funny safety video they showed us. Made me laugh out loud but that was not enough to overcome the wretchedly fetid air, the cramped seats, and the criminally sick-making food.

My great driver, Bob Noah, drove me from ATL to Augusta, a distance of about one billion miles through totally darkened countryside with no gas stations, no lights, no fast food, nothing. Desolate. After about two hours we came to the charming town of Thomson and it was as if we were on the Las Vegas Strip, as Bob Noah put it. Then on to Augusta, where I simply collapsed from the ill effects of the food on the flight and the exhaustion of the trip. Just to give you an idea of how badly off I was, I went with Bob to a Waffle House and could not even eat there. I did meet three adorable co-eds from Georgia Regents University and they were the brightest spots of the day by far. Pretty, enthusiastic, polite…I love Southern girls

Today, we had a tour of Augusta, a lovely city on the Savannah River, and then a cocktail party at a golf course clubhouse. The guests could not have been more pleasant. There was a staggeringly gorgeous woman working at the party. Just a super beauty. I might add that if she had been any more polite she would have been an impossibility. But wow, where do these gorgeous Southern women come from? What is it? Genetics? Attitude? Something.

The audience for the speech was great. Got all of my jokes. APPLAUDED AT THE RIGHT MOMENTS. Gave me a long standing ovation. We love Augusta. No sign of the beautiful cocktail party girl but the three glorious co-eds were there, beaming, cheerful, lovely. I think I will bring them out to L.A. on granddad’s jet.


A long, long drive from Augusta to Greenville to see my son, his beautiful Kitty, and lovely Coco, our granddaughter. She is not yet three but she can reach out her hand and say, “Hi, my name is Cora.”

The next step is to say, “And if I can do anything for you while you’re in Greenville, just let me know.”

Then we have Cora Stein, future U.S. president in our household.

Speaking of presidents, has anyone noticed that in terms of foreign and defense policy, Mr. Obama is simply AWOL? His initiatives about the Middle East have turned to ashes. His failure with Russia has been total. The Arab Spring has become an actual catastrophe—egged on by Obama and Kerry. The United States is a laughingstock all over the world. There is nothing—and I mean NOTHING—to stop Russia from taking over all of Eastern and Central Europe. But Obama continues to disarm, continues to go to fundraisers and play golf, acts as if he were in charge of anything. He isn’t. He is like a mayor of one of those decaying Rust Belt cities where nothing can stop the rot—but he and Empress Michelle continue to travel the world in Imperial style at our expense.

By the time Hillary takes over, we will have nothing left in the way of power and prestige, and the world will either be total chaos or a Russo/China condominium or a combination of both plus a goodly soupçon of Islamist terror from one corner of the globe to the other. To think that Barack Obama inherited an America that bestrode the earth like a colossus offering all the peoples of the world peace, opportunity, and the promise of security. Now it’s all gone. Mr. Obama—again—is AWOL. He is just pretending it isn’t happening at all. Truly appalling. Does he know how badly he’s failed? Does he even think of rebuilding the defense establishment? Did this happen by accident?

We lawyers have a principle that persons may be assumed to intend the likely and inevitable consequences of their actions. For Mr. Obama to kowtow to the Russians, to bow low to Islamists, to be blind to the realities of the implacable rage of Hamas and Iran, and, above all, to refuse to defend the nation—even he, a true dope, must have known these actions and inactions would lead to disaster. So, if he’s president and INTENDS the humiliation of this country, what do we have? 

And what kind of America will be left for our beautiful Coco Puff? 

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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