Step out of the loop, do something unusual and youâ€™ll encounter a wall of low-paid, low-intellect workers whose sole job is to prevent their bosses from being sued. As a result, you never hear anyone say: â€œOh Iâ€™m sure itâ€™ll be all right.â€ …
You know the Stig. The all-white racing driver we use on Top Gear. Well, we were filming him walking through the Mojave desert when lo and behold a lorry full of soldiers rocked up and arrested him. He was unusual. He wasnâ€™t fat. He must therefore be a Muslim.
It gets worse. I needed money to play a little blackjack in Vegas but because I was unable to provide the cashier with an American zip code he was unable to help. Itâ€™s the same story at the petrol pumps. Americans can punch their address into the key pad and replenish their tank. Europeans have to prove theyâ€™re not terrorists before being allowed to start pumping.
I seem to recall a television advertisement in which George W Bush himself urged us all to go over there for our holidays. But whatâ€™s the point when you canâ€™t buy anything? Or do anything. Or walk across the desert in a white suit without being arrested.
The main problem I suspect is a complete lack of knowledge about the world. I asked people in the streets of Vegas to name two European countries. The very first woman I spoke to said: â€œOh yes. Whatâ€™s that one with kangaroos?â€
Then youâ€™ve got New Orleans, which, nearly a year after Katrina, is still utterly smashed and ruined. Now Iâ€™m sorry but insects can build shelter on their own. Birds can build nests without a state handout. So why are the people of Louisiana sitting around waiting for someone else to do the repairs? …
Among the things I donâ€™t like is the way everyone over 15 stone now moves about in a wheelchair. As a result, it takes half an hour to get through even the widest door. And I really donâ€™t like the way that every small town looks exactly the same as every other small town. Palmdale in California and Biloxi in Mississippi are nigh on identical. They have the same horrible restaurants. The same mall. The same interstate drone. Live in either for more than a week and youâ€™d be stabbing your own eyes with knitting needles.
But itâ€™s the idiocracy that really gets me down. The constant coaxing you have to do to get anything done. â€œNoâ€ is the default setting whether you want to change lanes on a motorway or get a drink on a Sunday. Itâ€™s like trying to negotiate with a donkey. Once, I urged a cop in Pensacola, Florida, to use his common sense and let me load a van in the no loading zone, since the airport was shut and it would make no difference. â€œSir,â€ he said, â€œyou donâ€™t need common sense when youâ€™ve got laws.â€
25 Oct 2009