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Glenn Beck’s Mentor? Meet W. Cleon Skousen, Bestseller

beckFox News host Glenn Beck has a unique interpretation of the Founding Fathers: in part, he fancies them men of God and figures that they might have been okay with secession. But Beck has his own ideological forefather who has gone largely unnoticed by a large portion of the media watchdogs who have tracked Beck’s meteoric rise. That is, until the incisive Salon exposé of W. Cleon Skousen — “Beck’s favorite writer and the author of [The 5,000 Year Leap] the bible of the 9/12 movement” — which ran yesterday online.

The piece, entitled “Meet the man who changed Glenn Beck’s life,” takes writer Alexander Zaitchi inside the latest conservative uprising — dubbed the 9/12 movement — which marched on Washington, D.C. last weekend under Beck’s leadership and guidance. Beck’s ire directed at the government appears to stem from the teachings of Skousen, a “once-famous anti-communist ‘historian'” who was “too extreme” even for his early ’80s conservative contemporaries. To Beck’s followers, Skousen is no stranger:

Anyone who has followed Beck will recognize the book’s title. Beck has been furiously promoting “The 5,000 Year Leap” for the past year, a push that peaked in March when … a new edition of “The 5,000 Year Leap,” complete with a laudatory new foreword by none other than Glenn Beck, came out of nowhere to hit No. 1 on Amazon. It remained in the top 15 all summer, holding the No. 1 spot in the government category for months. At one 912 meet-up I attended in Florida, copies were stacked high on a table against the back wall, available for the 912 nice price of $15. “Don’t bother trying to get it at the library,” one 912er told me. “The wait list is 40 deep.”

The entire Salon article is well worth a read, but for those without the time or patience for the whole 4,000+ piece, we’ve run down a few of the most revealing, juicy bits below. Notice any similarities with Beck? Sound off in the comments.

  • Skousen’s The 5,000 Year Leap interprets American history “through an unspoken lens of Mormon theology” and is required reading at religious schools such as George Wythe University in Utah.
  • The FBI kept a 2,000 page report on Skousen.
  • The rest of Skousen’s oeuvre includes pamphlets and books on “the Red Menace, New World Order conspiracy, Christian child rearing, and Mormon end-times prophecy.”
  • Per the FBI file: “During the past year or so, Skousen has affiliated himself with the extreme right-wing ‘professional communists’ who are promoting their own anticommunism for obvious financial purposes.”
  • Critics charged Beck Skousen with “inventing fantastic ideas and making inferences that go far beyond the bounds of honest commentary.”
  • Applying Skousen’s attacks on communism to today, Beck has listed the new enemy as “liberals, special-interest groups, [and] the ACLU,” according to his first book The Real Truth.
  • “Over my book or anything else, get The 5,000 Year Leap,” said Beck. “It is the principle.”
  • Another book being passed around at 9/12 “seminars” is Skousen’s Making of America, which describes “America’s religious Founders and their happy slaves.”

What is it that they say about the stakes of understanding and repeating history? It’s something about being doomed.

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