Since retiring from the US Senate, Byron Dorgan has been writing fiction. Or, given that his previous non-fiction books were ghost written, paying someone to write it for him.
His first fiction novel, Blowout, was a depressing assemblage of left-wing conspiracy theories about the energy industry, featuring evil hedge fund managers who try to derail an energy project in North Dakota that would end the world’s addiction to oil, etc, etc.
To say it forayed into the land of political caricature is not an overstatement. Dorgan’s tired themes are to left-wing entertainment what jingoistic country songs and pictures of bald eagles are to conservative entertainment.
Two Iranian agents hand over one million dollars to a Russian engineer for a thumbdrive. The drive contains a deadly computer virus that could shut down all electrical power in the United States at a keystroke.
In rural North Dakota, a lineman is electrocuted, and the local cop sent to investigate is shot to death. As rolling electrical blackouts begin to shut down major US cities, the war for energy domination begins.
Two nations are behind this deadly attack: Venezuela and Iran, intent on destroying the present world order and bringing an arrogant America to its knees. Their agent of terror is Yuri Makarov, a former Spetsnaz officer, the best of the best among the shadow world of killers for hire. When governments are powerless to stop such a man from sending the United States back to the horse-and-buggy era, North Dakota county sheriff Nate Osborne and brash journalist Ashley Borden once again step into the breach.
Apparently, Senator Heidi Heitkamp is a fan:
GRAND FORKS — In “Gridlock,” a political thriller due out in July, one of the novel’s main characters — a genius scientist with the dark good looks of actress Lara Flynn Boyle — drives out to the western North Dakota ranch of a friend, Ashley Borden, “brash” reporter for the Bismarck Tribune.
“Driving up, the entire western part of the state had from the beginning struck her as if it were the landscape on another planet where life was just possible but not easy. Yet just about every North Dakotan she’d met in her off and on six years here was friendly, though very often a little insular. Only the occasional rancher, especially the old bachelors, tended to be a little gnarly around the edges …”
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., listened as the passage was read aloud, and she laughed.
“Oh, Byron wrote that part,” she said. “‘Gnarly’ is one of his favorite words.”
Yes. Let’s all laugh about the political elites calling their constituents “insular” and “gnarly.”
It’s fitting that Dorgan’s novel are set in the same alternate version of reality that his politics were based in. As one example, Senator Dorgan was famous, at the end of his career, for trying to spin the nation’s housing market collapse as the result of Wall Street greed and not government policy which specifically incented subprime loans.
Dorgan’s first novel was described as his first work of fiction, but that’s not exactly true now is it? In the Senate or out, Senator Dorgan is still making things up.