In his 48 years on planet Earth, Beck has been a teenage misfit; an amateur magician; an alcoholic and a pothead; a Catholic turned nonbeliever turned Mormon; a twice-married father of four; a top-rated radio talk-show host; a New York Times best-selling author in four genres; a polarizing, tearful television talking head; and a multi-media, multi-millionaire entrepreneur, now with his own online magazine and Web TV show. Just because he may have fallen off your radar since he left Fox News, last summer, doesn’t mean that millions of faithful listeners don’t still harken to his every dog-whistle warning. They do, and their views—and their votes—carry weight. For public consumption Beck styles himself as a performer, but this is pretense. He aspires to something greater. Beck is like Andy Griffith’s Lonesome Rhodes, the faux-bumpkin demagogue in A Face in the Crowd, who shouts, “I’m not just an entertainer. I’m an influence, a wielder of opinion, a force … a force!” And he is—a force and, as he sometimes suggests, a seer. Trying to parse his every utterance leads to madness. He’s more readily comprehensible as a vortex. Glenn Beck is a full-time pre-millennial prophet predicting, if not the end of days, at least something like a new Dark Age, with a collapsing global financial and political system and an onslaught of Evil Forces that will require an every-man-for-himself mind-set to survive. If he had lived in the first century A.D., Beck could well have displaced John of Patmos as the author of the biblical book of Revelation, that bizarre, brooding, apocalyptic amalgam of seven seals, seven stars, and a lamb with seven horns.
more from Todd S. Purdum at Vanity Fair here.