I never wanted any of this. I came to Los Angeles like any broken, lost 19-year-old searching for fame and fortune, running from myself, my past and my family. As I made a beeline for the West Coast a mere six months after getting out of rehab for heroin addiction, I daydreamed about what my life would look like. I envisioned myself sitting on the deck of my Malibu beach home, idly flipping through scripts after my morning yoga session. Against the backdrop of the mighty Pacific, I would eat mango, listen to the waves, watch dolphins and smoke that sweet California weed. A superstar must always flip through scripts idly.

I wanted to be a superstar. This was the American dream, and as I crossed the desert in my white VW Jetta, I fantasized about drinking Diet Cokes while I sat in a director’s chair chatting with the girls while they did my hair and makeup.

That should have been the first red flag. I hate Diet Coke. I ended up in Valley Village working as an extra on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Felicity and Freaks and Geeks. By day I shuffled around with the other cattle on sets and did my best to avoid being visible in the background of the shots. By night I did blow and played dominoes with a bunch of adult-film actresses and the creepy lawyer/drug dealer who lived across the courtyard.

I grew up in a liberal home, surrounded by liberals in a liberal pocket of America. My exposure to differing political views was limited, and by the time I came to Los Angeles, listening to NPR was my personality. My parents were pro-choice and anti-gun. It was assumed that we were the good guys. My limited understanding of Republicans and conservatism was that they were evil racists, hellbent on keeping America stuck in the 1950s. They were all white and all rich. Every Republican was Mr Burns from The Simpsons — a cantankerous, greedy old fart who wanted to exploit the workers and either bomb the brown people or keep them out.

The first presidential election I was old enough to vote in was in 2000. I was just about to turn 20 years old. It was a big election and the first to which I paid any attention. In my periwinkle blue studio apartment in Santa Monica, I’d smoke weed and listen to the radio through my computer. I was too poor for a TV so I’d just turn KCRW on all day while I worked.

Listening to my steady diet of NPR and having dinners in Hollywood with successful creatives from all over the world, I got a real sense that this election was a battle between good and evil. It never occurred to me that anyone might have had a different opinion. Everyone spoke with the comfortable certainty that comes from groupthink. Only with hindsight can I see the elitism and the smug righteousness that oozed throughout the media I consumed and the conversations in which I was just a young fly-on-the-wall.

George W. Bush was the worst of America personified. A frat boy who failed up, buoyed by the success of his father. A redneck who only got into the Ivy League because of his pedigree. He represented guns, Texas and big oil. Worst of all, he was Christian. A simple man of faith. If Wubya won, we would end up destroying the environment, going to war and banning abortion. The stakes were high and I was terrified.

Al Gore cared about global warming and said we were all going to be underwater in a decade. And you know what’s funny? I have no idea what else he stood for as I sit here and write this. I’d have to google what platform he ran on. Which is hilarious, given the fact that I do remember wondering how anyone could look at these two options and pick George W. Bush over Al Gore. The truth is, I didn’t know jack squat about Gore or his policies.

So I smoked my weed, listened to my Elliott Smith and prattled on about how anyone who voted for Bush was a moron who didn’t know anything, when in fact I was projecting. Of course there were morons who didn’t know anything and voted for Bush, but I was just the other side of the coin: a moron who didn’t know anything voting for Gore. And lucky me, I didn’t have to know anything. No one was going to make me defend my ‘ideas’ which were just parroted talking points. No one questioned why I was voting for Gore.

By definition, I was a full-blown libtard through most of my twenties and well into my thirties. Although this pejorative is crude, it accurately describes the fact that the development of my political understanding was retarded: my worldview had never evolved past a certain point. That is, until I got sober, Trump was nominated, and the whole world collectively lost its mind.

My dad made me promise one thing before I set out to pursue my dreams of acting in Los Angeles. ‘Don’t do porn,’ he said. I laughed. He stared at me without smiling. Oh. He wasn’t joking.

Somehow, what I am now doing feels dirtier than porn. This is because I am a ‘media personality’ who occasionally opens my pie-hole on conservative media outlets. I’ve even appeared on Fox. This is worse than porn in my East Coast liberal family.

Fathers, be careful what you wish for.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s October 2021 World edition.