Shortly before the mid-term elections Matt Taibbi went to a Sarah Palin-led Tea Party rally in Kentucky to try and understand the political movement — and he noticed that many people in the audience were in motorized scooters. Somebody informed him that Medicare pays for the devices and "practically everyone in Kentucky has one." "A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment," Taibbi wrote. "If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it."
8. Conan O'Brien (subscription only)
2010 was one nutty year for Conan O'Brien. NBC yanked his Tonight Show after just seven months, leading to the rise of the Team Coco army of fans. When he took his show on the road in the summer he was greeted as a mythical folk hero. Shortly before starting his new show on TBS, O'Brien talked to Mark Binelli about the wild ride. "In some ways, I planned and worked for five years toward this one thing that was supposedly the epitome of my television dreams," O'Brien said "And then the still-kind-of-unthinkable happened. But one of the advantages of that experience is to really feel like, 'OK, I'm going to go for broke. I have got nothing to lose.' Let's face it: I'm not going to do another television show after this one."
9. Lost Lennon Tapes (subscription only)
Three days before John Lennon died he spent nine hours speaking to Rolling Stone's Jonathan Cott for a cover story. Only select excerpts from the interview were used in the piece, and the tapes sat in Cott's closet for nearly thirty years. On the 30th anniversary of Lennon's death Rolling Stone ran the entire interview. "What [fans] want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean," Lennon told Cott. "I'm not interseted in being a dead fucking hero...so forget 'em, forget 'em." He also discussed the possibility of launching his first solo tour. "We just might do it," he said. "But there will be no smoke bombs, no lipstick, no flashing lights. It just has to be comfy. But we could have a laugh. We're born-again rockers, and we're starting over...There's plenty of time, right? Plenty of time."
10. Marijuana America
While marijuana is still technically illegal all across the country, certain states have decriminalized it to the point where getting caught with a joint is barely a worse offense than jaywalking. In Massachusetts, pot has been effectively decriminalized at the recreational level; possession of up to an ounce nets a $100 ticket. Meanwhile, 14 states have approved medical marijuana, and legislation is pending in 14 more. California is at the center of the movement, with hundreds of marijuana dispensaries popping up at strip malls all across the state. Rolling Stone went to California to investigate: "When California voters passed Prop 215, it seemed like typical behavior from the people who brought us Scientology and the career of Gary Busey. But now, as the economy has cratered and millions of Americans have found themselves forced to rethink their livelihoods, there's a growing feeling that the country can no longer afford its longstanding prohibition on marijuana — a sense, for the first time since the Seventies, that pot could soon be decriminalized in many states, or even made fully legal… On the national level, a Harvard economist has estimated that legalizing pot could save the government $13 billion annually in prohibition costs (including cops and prisons) and raise $7 billion in annual revenues if marijuana is taxed — a potent argument at a time when local municipalities are being forced to slash services and cut public-sector jobs."
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