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A bizarre amalgam of political satire, conspiracy theory, libel-evading footnotes, and pulp detective fiction, Larry Beinhart’s American Hero hypothesizes that the 1991 Gulf War was a re-election strategy for George Bush engineered by Lee Atwater on his deathbed and carried out by Hollywood producers. Like much satire, Hero—which reads like a collaboration between Oliver Stone, Elmore Leonard, and a student in freshman comp—flops because its fiction is much less outrageous than the truth it lampoons: You don’t need to read a novel to realize that America fought the Gulf War for reasons other than liberating the freedom-loving people of Kuwait. Beinhart reads from Hero at 1 p.m. at Olsson’s, 1200 F St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-3686. (David Plotz)