Today I finally had a chance to watch the third and final episode of How Booze Built America. After the first episode, which focused on how beer and rum led to the founding of America, last week's episode talked about the relationship between whiskey and westward expansion. In this installment, alcohol gets banned in the early 20th century, leading to the formation of all sorts of interesting organizations like the mob, the FBI, and the beginning of forensic science. Ultimately, Mike Rowe argues, alcohol led to putting man on the moon in 1969.
This last little factoid doesn't seem quite right to me. The argument is that because Papa Kennedy's vast fortune came from rum-running during Prohibition, and Papa Kennedy helped pay to get JFK into the White House, so by enabling President JFK to make that famous speech that inspired NASA scientists to get a man on the moon by the close of the decade, alcohol put a man on the moon. That connection requires a bit too much explanation and seems a bit convoluted for my tastes.
But overall, this has been a fun little series. I like the reenactments - all the more so when they get interrupted halfway through by our garrulous host - and although I'm not sure I'm willing to take the point to the extremes of the show, it seems pretty clear that alcohol has done a lot to shape the will and fate of our country. I'm not sure that's something I want to hear, but I can believe it.
I am actually very surprised that NASCAR is more popular than baseball. I mean, I find both irredeemably boring, but baseball is supposedly "America's national past time"! But knowing that NASCAR has such a wide fanbase certainly explains why Disney decided to build a Carsland instead of exploring other themes. All those baby Nascar fans probably have Cars-themed birthday parties and sleep in Cars pajamas and play with little plastic Cars after school each day.
But hey, that's part of the America that booze built. Embrace it and pop open a fresh cold one!