The Political Orphanage

Andrew Heaton

Politics minus bile plus jokes. Comedian and avowed independent Andrew Heaton examines current events with his deranged friends, then slops humor on top.

All Episodes

Margaret MacMillan is a war historian, and the author of “War: How It Shaped Us.” She joins the show to discuss the nature of war, its history, what precipitates conflict, and how to avert it. Join the orphanage at: Tips: Venmo: andrew-heaton-1 PayPal:

Nov 23

56 min 14 sec

Matt Ridley is a science writer and member of the House of Lords, and Alina Chan is a scientist and molecular biologist. They are the authors of the new book “Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19.” They join the show to discuss the genesis of the pandemic, Chinese obfuscation, and how transparency is needed to forestall future plagues.

Nov 17

52 min 36 sec

Andrew Yang just left the Democratic Party to form the Forward Party. He joins to discuss electoral reform, and his book “Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy.” Justin Amash interview: Katherine Gehl interview: Pedde GoFundMe:

Nov 10

57 min 43 sec

Dave Chappelle's new Netflix special "The Closer" unleashed a cultural firestorm over transgender comments. Is it offensive? What makes a joke offensive? Comedian Jeff Maurer joins to discuss. Friday Release Valve (comedy podcast) "I Might Be Wrong" (Jeff's newsletter)

Nov 3

1 hr 11 min

John McWhorter joins the show to discuss the mindset of victimhood, and Wokeness as a new religion. His new book is “Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America” Support the Show: Buy the book:

Oct 27

52 min 30 sec

Dr. Chuck Shipan is the author of “Why Bad Policies Spread (and Good Ones Don't)”. He is joined by Dr. Andrea Jones-Rooy, a comedian and political scientist, to discuss the forces and circumstances which lead to good and bad policy proliferation from state to state.

Oct 20

48 min 55 sec

Perverse Incentives! Unintended Consequences! Today we explore how governments can screw things up by confusing incentives with dictating motivation or outcomes. Support the show: Tip me! Venmo: @andrew-heaton-1

Oct 13

1 hr 2 min

George F. Will is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, and the author of “American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020.” He joins the show to discuss the Culture War, failings of academia, jurisprudence, politics, and economics.  Find Mr. Will’s book at Previous George Will interview:

Oct 6

52 min 17 sec

Robby Soave is a senior editor at Reason, and the author of "Tech Panic: Why We Shouldn't Fear Facebook and the Future." He comes to discuss politicians' misplaced anger with large tech companies, and why their fears are unfounded.   Find his book at:

Sep 30

55 min 33 sec

Jason Feifer is the host of "Build for Tomorrow" (formerly "The Pessimist Archives") and joins the show to discuss why we needlessly react to new technologies with fear.   Did you know that society once balked at the dangerous technologies of radios, novels, and teddy bears? We get into all of them on today's show!   SUPPORT THE SHOW:

Sep 23

1 hr 14 min

This week bonus episodes are going on the main feed, past the paywall! Here's a rerun from last year, about Napoleon Bonaparte, and the pitfalls of "liberating" other nations. To support the show, go to

Sep 15

26 min 30 sec

The default position for politics is advocacy—promoting our team and opposing the other. Julia Galef proposes an alternate mindset, where we try to determine the reality of a situation even if it’s uncomfortable. She is the author of “The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t.” Book at

Sep 14

1 hr 3 min

The Khmer Rouge was a brutal communist regime that ruled Cambodia for only four years, but in that brief period entirely destroyed its economy, wiped out its intellectual class, and horribly murdered a quarter of its population. In this history episode we investigate one of the world's worst regimes, the depths of its depravity, and how it explains a specific type of terror present in other countries today. 

Sep 8

58 min 29 sec

Joe Biden's Child Tax Credit sends direct money to families, no strings attached. Is it cutting down on wasteful bureaucracy and reducing hurdles to financial aid, or enabling a culture of joblessness? The World's Smartest Podcast Network rejoins to discuss, as well as: Rich People Island, the future of remote work, and Soviet Space dogs.

Aug 31

1 hr 11 min

Friday Release Valve (where we kick around the best, underserved headlines of the week) is returning--but moving to its own podcast. New episodes will appear on the new show titled "Friday Release Valve," along with a backlog of old episodes, funny commercials, and sketches. To find the new show, go to or search for "Friday Release Valve" on your podcast player of choice.

Aug 27

13 min 23 sec

Housing regulations have resulted in widespread urban sprawl, ethnic redlining, multi-generational poverty, and all manner of other ills.  Jeff Maurer of "I Might Be Wrong" on Substack and Jeremiah Johnson of The Neoliberal Podcast join to discuss how zoning laws have hurt America, and ways to rectify them. This episode is sponsored by Ground News - The world's first news comparison platform. Download Ground News for free here:

Aug 25

1 hr 2 min

Winston Churchill dealt with evil by confrontation. What's his opposite? This is a bonus history episode from July of last year, in the context of the forthcoming 2020 election and the George Floyd protests.  Bonus episodes come out ever week on top of the regular show. To access them, head to

Aug 19

31 min 25 sec

Could we have fixed things if we stayed? Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday, which is quickly reorganizing their regime after getting ousted twenty years ago by the United States.   Was nation building an incomplete but worthwhile pursuit, or a never-ending fools errand?   Jason Buttrill served as an intelligence analyst in the invasion of Afghanistan, and discusses the nature of the country and what will happen to it.

Aug 17

1 hr 19 min

Andrew Sullivan is an author and blogger best-known for his substack The Weekly Dish.   His new book is "Out On a Limb: Selected Writing, 1989-2021" chronicling sexuality, politics, and religion from his position as a gay Catholic conservative.   Get "Out On a Limb" at

Aug 11

1 hr 2 min

Affirmative Action is potentially one Supreme Court case away from going extinct. When is racial prioritizing constitutional? Is it ever a good policy idea? Anastasia Boden is a senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, and the co-host of "Dissed," a podcast focused on important Supreme Court dissents.

Aug 4

58 min 35 sec

Dan Kovalik is the author of "Cancel This Book: The Progressive Case Against Cancel Culture." Kovalik, a long-time labor activist, union attorney, and human rights lawyer, joins the show to talk about the classist and elitist elements of Woke excess, and why it's a dismal long-term strategy for the Democratic Party.   "Cancel This Book"   This episode is sponsored by Ground News - The world's first news comparison platform. Download Ground News for free here:

Jul 28

54 min 59 sec

Over a hundred thousand people signed a petition calling to ban the world's richest man from returning to Earth: "billionaires shouldn't exist." In this episode we explore the difference between relative growth and actual growth. And determine if liquidating the rich would solve the world's economic problems.

Jul 22

35 min 58 sec

Are late night comedy and political satire as free wheeling and funny as they used to be? Or has comedy become simultaneously tame yet partisan?   Jeff Maurer is former senior writer for "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver." He joins to discuss how fear and groupthink have defanged comedy, and why nuance is always a harder prospect than reflexive teamsiness.   Jeff's newsletter can be found at

Jul 14

1 hr 8 min

I have a new book out! Los Angeles is Hideous: Poems About An Ugly City. Arguably the funniest book ever written about the horribleness which is LA. Here are two quick readings from what is about to become your new favorite coffee table book. You can find "Los Angeles is Hideous: Poems About An Ugly City" at

Jul 13

6 min 48 sec

Michael Malice is the best-selling author of "The Anarchist Handbook". He joins to discuss the legitimacy of government action, and what society might look like in the absence of a state. "The Anarchist Handbook" by Michael Malice On North Korea On the New Right

Jul 7

1 hr 4 min

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Anne Applebaum is the author of "Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism." She joins the show to discuss the rise of authoritarianism around the world, and the origins of the impulse. Related episode: “You’re Doing the Culture War Wrong”

Jun 30

47 min 50 sec

Brian Brushwood joins the show to discuss why people get their jollies from political bullying, and how to sidestep fruitless fights instead of getting drawn into them.  Past bonus episodes: "How to Avoid Awkward Political Conversations" "Advice from Brian Brushwood and Me"

Jun 23

1 hr 10 min

What if instead of one vote per person, you had a whole bag of votes to distribute however you liked along the ballot? What if all property was up for auction, permanently? Glen Weyl is the author of "Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for A Just Society." He joins the show to discuss where markets work well and where they do not, and how we could rethink society from the ground up to better utilize them.

Jun 16

53 min 48 sec

Adam Gopnik is the author of "A Thousand Points of Sanity: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism" and joins the show to discuss what constitutes the temperament and foundations of liberalism.  Want to discuss the episode with fellow orphans? Head to This episode is sponsored by Ground News - The world's first news comparison platform. Download Ground News for free here:

Jun 9

1 hr 11 min

Student loan debt is at a cool $1.7 trillion and growing. Should we forgive all the debt? Why can't we discharge it through bankruptcy? Policy deep dive episode! 

Jun 3

24 min 44 sec

In 1950 you could basically go to college for free if you promised to wear a necktie. Today, you need to hostage multiple children for a four-year communications degree. Why is college tuition skyrocketing? SUPPORT THE SHOW: Venmo: @andrew-heaton-1 PayPal: CHAT WITH FELLOW ORPHANS:

Jun 2

45 min 2 sec

The World's Smartest Podcast Network reassembles for a roundtable discussion, featuring Turner Sparks, Michael Ira Kaplan, and Andrea Jones-Rooy.   Topics include: Chinese social engineering, red governors in blue states, private security, and space dust.

May 26

51 min 48 sec

When we look at world metrics annually or on a ten-year basis, it turns out... everything is getting better. Literacy, poverty, the prospects of nuclear war, women's rights, children's rights, and so forth. Ron Bailey, co-author of "Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know: And Many Others You Will Find Interesting" joins to discuss the upswing, what's causing it, and what could derail it.

May 19

54 min 55 sec

Comedians Mike Larsen (writer for "The Drew Carey Show" and "Real Time with Bill Maher) and Travis Irvine join the show to discuss the best, least covered-headlines of the week.

May 14

26 min

What are Nordic countries up to and should we emulate or invade them? What policies might we plagiarize or rebuff? Anu Partanen is the author of "The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life," and comes to discuss the relationship between families and the state, individualism, and safety nets in a Scandinavian context. You can download her book and others discussed on the show at Support the Orphanage!

May 12

1 hr 8 min

Comedians Max Gieser and LaGina Hill join the show to discuss the week's best, underserved headlines, including: a teddy bear hitchhiking the length of California, high school hackers, and a mayor's genius plan to aid the vaccine rollout. 

May 6

42 min 42 sec

Steve Krakauer writes Fourth Watch, a media newsletter, and is a television producer with experience ranging from CNN to Megyn Kelly. He joins the show to describe the current media landscape, it’s problems, and their source. This episode is sponsored by Ground News - The world's first news comparison platform. Download Ground News for free here:

May 5

1 hr 9 min

Chad Prather and Josh Jennings return to discuss the best, underserved headlines of the week, including: why Russia is faking Yeti sightings; poor fashion makes for good burgling; criminal advice on banking errors.


Apr 30

27 min 35 sec

Robert Jackman, writer and certified Englishman, joins the show to discuss how liberty manifests in America differently than the United Kingdom, and what it looks like from across the pond.   If you know of a novel example of American personal freedom Robert can visit upon his return, email him at

Apr 28

1 hr 18 min

Bill Schulz and Kourtni Beebe join the show to discuss the week's best, underserved headlines. Including: Official Australian deliberations on mullet propriety; kidnapping the world's biggest rabbit; and why you should generally avoid stealing an ambulance.

Apr 23

39 min 15 sec

Old politics: small government conservatives against big government progressives. New politics: Dive Bar Republicans against the Democratic Party's Managerial Class. Musa al-Gharbi is the Paul F. Lazarsfeld fellow in Sociology at Columbia University, and joins to discuss what the new Managerial Class is, and how it thinks. This episode is sponsored by Ground News - The world's first news comparison platform. Download Ground News for free here:

Apr 21

1 hr 11 min

Sarah Rose Siskind, headwriter of "Mostly Weekly" and comedy writer extraordinaire joins Heaton to explore the best, underserved headlines of the week including: how nudity can improve Romanian news shows, 15,000 bees in a car, and a religion designed by pubescent boys.

Apr 16

34 min 11 sec

Logical fallacies are great for making arguments frustrating and clear thinking deranged. James Harrigan and Antony Davies of the “Words & Numbers” podcast join the show to catalogue the logical fallacies which bloat political discourse. This episode is sponsored by Ground News - The world's first news comparison platform. Download Ground News for free here:

Apr 14

59 min 55 sec

Republicans are tinkering with state election laws across the country, most notably in Georgia. Meanwhile, Democrats passed HR 1 in the House, which tinkers with election laws at a national level. Let's explore just exactly what they're up to. For more bonus episodes go to

Apr 12

42 min 2 sec

The World's Smartest Podcast Network reconvenes to discuss the week's best underserved headlines, including: Australian mice plagues, raven pickpockets, and how to use zoning ordinances to banish sex. WSPN includes: Turner Sparks, Michael Ira Kaplan, Dr. Andrea Jones-Rooy, and Andrew Heaton


Apr 9

42 min 41 sec

Dominic Frisby is a British humorist and financial writer. He joins the show to discuss his new book, "Daylight Robbery: How Tax Shaped Our Past and Will Change Our Future."

Apr 8

1 hr 3 min

Mary Jo Pehl (Mystery Science Theater 3000 writer) and actor/comedian/jewel thief Nicholas Sperdute join to discuss the week's best underserved headlines, including: the film "Alien" as performed exclusively by English bus drivers, and how to save your favorite restaurant using only tattoos and beans.


Apr 2

37 min 46 sec

Scott Lincicome of The Dispatch and the Cato Institute joins to discuss the nature of social trust and social capital, how government can facilitate or strangle it, and the dire consequences of when it dries up.

Mar 31

57 min 46 sec

Matt Sienkiewicz and Andrea Jones-Rooy join the show to discuss the week's best, underserved headlines.   Including: a scrupulous car thief, stealing playground components, and hopes of sending human body fluids to the moon.

Mar 26

32 min 56 sec

Former Congressman Justin Amash thinks Congress has basically turned into two oligarchs and a bunch of mouthy rubber stamps who cue off them. He joins the show to talk about the dysfunction in Congress, why that's frightening, and the reforms needed to fix the institution. SUPPORT THE SHOW Paypal: Venmo: andrew-heaton-1 Crypto Currency:

Mar 24

56 min 46 sec