Toxic power; a delusional president; despicable characters; lies, sex and audiotapes; and a basket overflowing with deplorables. Now throw in hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 — just because we can and they actually did — and what you get is a GOTCHA!: Inside Trump’s 2020 Campaign (South Street Books) by nine-time Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Ed. Weinberger.

Known for his work on such legendary comedies as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi and The Cosby Show, Weinberger imagines an alternate Trump 2020 presidential campaign in this hysterical page-turner that really isn’t that far from what we’ve been experiencing these past four years, albeit without the belly laughs and witty dialogue. It’s fiction and real life coming at you like a tsunami.

The story begins on Election Day, November 3, 2020 at Mar-A-Largo, or as I like to call the private residence of the current U.S. president, “the cereal bowl estate of frosty fruitcakes!” The story then jumps back eight months to the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing, where loud and rowdy babbling minions are plotting strategies for the campaign to reelect the head minion — or, as he prefers to be called, “Sir.” It finishes up on January 24, 2021.

In his author’s note, Weinberger says that the book is the product of his imagination and a work of satirical fiction. “Parodies and exaggerated distortions are solely intended for the reader’s amusement.” I beg to differ, but just a smidge.

A HILARIOUS BLENDING OF FACT, FICTION … AND FORTUNETELLING?

Though Weinberger does take license with characters like Laura Ingraham in one of the funniest scenes in the book (I’m not giving it away, so don’t bother jumping down to the next paragraph), or having the president calling AG Barr in the middle of the night while Mrs. Barr is propped up in bed listening to “Bible Bedtime Stories” on her cell phone, to screaming at Don Jr., who is in bed with his girlfriend, for posting on Instagram that Joe Biden was a pedophile (it was the “other” brother) — the author comes pretty close to blending fact and fiction. It’s a sordid tale, but someone had to tell it and boy did he. Weinberger makes Watergate seem like child’s play.

In a world turned upside down and a pandemic that won’t go away, reading GOTCHA!, with all the absurdity of an administration out of control, had me laughing out loud. Why? Because Weinberger nailed it — before election day — and also prophesied that the president would refuse to leave the White House if he lost! 

And now, in less than three weeks, there will be a new family taking up residence in America’s house and bringing their own top dogs with them (the four-legged kind). If the 2020 election had not turned out the way it did — even though the current occupant in the White House has yet to admit — oh, no, dare I say it — yes, he LOST, GOTCHA! would have been like reading Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist — alone, in the dark, with scratchy noises coming from within the walls. But it wasn’t. And Trump really did lose. 

Now, maybe, just maybe, with the past four chaotic years behind us, the world, hopefully, might tilt back to where it belongs.

But, let’s leave it to the historians to make sense out of all of this.  

GOTCHA! is available for purchase. Also check out our interview with the author here.

About Ed. Weinberger:

Ed. Weinberger, who has written for such diverse comedians as Bob Hope, Richard Pryor and Johnny Carson, began his career in the early ’60s with Dick Gregory. He wrote and produced for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and co-created Taxi, Dear John and The Cosby Show. He also executive produced and created Amen, Sparks and Good News. Honors include three Golden Globe Awards, a Peabody and nine Emmy Awards. In 2000, Weinberger received The Writer’s Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the author of the one-man play A Man and His Prostate, which starred Ed Asner and toured nationally for five years. In 2017, he co-authored the book The Grouchy Historian: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs.