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Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative?

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If, in 2002, your television viewing habits were dominated by Fox News, The Osbournes, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, you may have missed out on the highlight of Adam Carolla’s early television career. He left Comedy Central’s The Man Show in 2003.

Similarly, if you scrupulously avoid any relationship advice from Dr. Drew Pinsky as if it were a visit to the Ebola Bridal Shoppe, you missed another post-millennial Carolla enterprise. Carolla left Loveline in 2005.

There’s been a slew of Carolla projects in the interim, but if you’re like millions of baby boomers whose mental image of the word “podcast” conjures primarily a plaster replica of the seed pods from 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, you may have lost all track of Carolla, and rediscovered him as a guest on the O‘Reilly Factor.

While you’ve been passively forgetting, patently ignoring, or ardently following Adam Carolla, he’s been working full time, outside of what passes for the usual show business gestalt. Like Charlton Heston, Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammar, and Wayne Newton before him, Carolla has made his conservative/libertarian values known. Only this time, unlike with those illustrious examples, the conservative is outside of so-called mainstream culture.

If there is such a thing as a conservative counterculture, I think you have to put Carolla on the ground floor. Bear in mind though—Carolla says he’s not really all that conservative; it’s just that the culture has driven him rightward.

Whether delivering irresistible cuties bouncing on trampolines, dispensing relationship advice Doctor Laura would scarcely have approved of, or the tearing off an improperly installed roof, the comedian, author, radio personality and #1 national podcaster always brought the fun.

Carolla hilariously worked his take on Eros into the Loveline script. The Man Show was like a frat house micro-burst around feminism’s ankles.

Lately, if you work in construction, you don’t want Carolla’s Catch a Contractor crew rolling up on your job site. Carolla’s home improvement sting operation on Spike TV has just been renewed for a third season.

When one contractor cornered says to Carolla, "You’re a standup comedian, right?" Carolla responds, saying, "No joke I ever told is as funny as the work you performed here."

Carolla’s atheism is something that places him outside preconceptions about how conservatives’ reckon humankind’s place in the universe. Unfairly or not, we associate the right more with established belief systems, traditional religion, and the left more with secularism—within a larger context of the atheistic state.

Carolla’s, or anyone’s, atheism, strikes a discordant note with a statistical majority of the conservative base demographic. Thou shalt not judge is the guiding principal, but for true believers, atheism alone will put Carolla in a counterculture.

Also to be accepted is his pro-choice (while being assailed as a misogynist), pro-same-sex marriage (while being decried as a homophobe), and pro-marijuana legalization positions in the bargain.

At the entertainment website My Damn Channel, Carolla responds to criticisms about remarks he made on race that some characterize as racially insensitive.

What about this conservative counterculture? Alice Cooper has got to be some kind of emeritus standard bearer. Greg Gutfeld, Vince Vaughn, and Kid Rock?

Writer P.J. O‘Rourke has a hand in this. If you aren’t worried about coming across as pompous, a case can be made for making Dennis Miller the honorary godfather.

And who doesn’t love Wayne Newton?

Will the term “counterculture conservative” someday be remembered like “Tea Party?” the lexicon of a movement assimilated, like the Tea Party itself?

In the culture war, that might be progress.

Or will the conservative counterculture remain its own thing, and perhaps someday be sent-up in a counter-culturally conservative version of The Monkees?

Whatever happens, performers like Adam Carolla will provide the reality check, but one possibility cannot be ignored: Carolla may reject the whole idea, and someday spew forth with a rant and drill it a new one.

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See more of PJ Lifestyle's coverage celebrating Adam Carolla over the past few years, led by Kathy Shaidle:

This essay is part of an ongoing dialogue between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island regarding the future of conservatism and the role of emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the previous installments in the series and join the discussion: