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Rabbits, run: Two books about Mike Pence's bunny Marlon Bundo top bestseller lists

Rabbits, run: Two books about Mike Pence's bunny Marlon Bundo top bestseller lists
Mike Pence's family rabbit Marlon Bundo is a hit in two very different books. (Carolyn Van Houten / The Washington Post)

Move over, James B. Comey: The new hottest book in America is a satirical children's book that imagines Vice President Pence's family pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo, as gay.

“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo" has been the No. 1 bestselling book on Amazon for several days. It hopped to the top over the book it parodies, "Marlon Bundo's Day in the Life of the Vice President," written by Pence’s daughter Charlotte and illustrated by his wife, Karen, which as of Monday morning was ranked at No. 11.

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Both books have proved so popular that the publishers are racing to keep them in stock. The "Last Week Tonight" book, published by Chronicle, has more than 400,000 copies in print, the Associated Press reports, while the Pences' book, published by Regnery, has more than 100,000 in print.The satirical book about Marlon Bundo is written by Jill Twiss, a writer for Oliver's "Last Week Tonight," and illustrated by E.G. Keller. Oliver announced the book on his show March 18. “It turns out, in a complete coincidence, we also wrote a book about Mike Pence's rabbit," he said. "There are a few small differences between the two books. … Our story is about Marlon Bundo falling in love with another boy rabbit, because our Marlon Bundo is gay, just like the real Marlon Bundo."

John Oliver introduces "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo."
John Oliver introduces "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo." (Eric Liebowitz / HBO / AP)

The parody book's description of Bundo's sexual orientation seems designed to needle Pence, a longtime opponent of LGBTQ rights.

Oliver noted that all the proceeds from the book will be donated to two groups, the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that provides help to suicidal LGBTQ young people, and to the organization AIDS United.

"Marlon Bundo's A Day in the Life of the Vice President" by Charlotte Pency, illustrated by Karen Pence
"Marlon Bundo's A Day in the Life of the Vice President" by Charlotte Pency, illustrated by Karen Pence (Regnery)

Proceeds from the Pences' book will also go to charitable causes: The A21 Campaign, a nonprofit that fights human trafficking, and Tracy's Kids, an art therapy program for children being treated for cancer at various hospitals across the country.

The "Last Week Tonight" book is also available in an audiobook format at Audible, featuring narration by "The Big Bang Theory" actor Jim Parsons, with guests Jesse Tyler Ferguson, RuPaul, Jeff Garlin, Jack McBrayer, Ellie Kemper and John Lithgow. On Tuesday, Oliver discussed the children's book with Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show. “Marlon Bundo,” he said, “is an outstanding name, for a bunny. You don’t have to like [Pence] to acknowledge that’s an excellent bunny name," he said. He explained that his book’s gay Marlon Bundo gets married to his bunny boyfriend “because that’s the world we want to live in.”

Mike Pence has yet to respond to the satirical version of his family's book, but his daughter Charlotte reacted to the parody Tuesday on the Fox Business Network show "Mornings With Maria."

"I think imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, in a way," Charlotte Pence told host Maria Bartiromo. "But also, in all seriousness, his book is contributing to charities that I think we can all get behind. ... So I'm all for it, really."

Karen Pence, seated next to her daughter, smiled and nodded at Charlotte's comments.

The younger Pence also put her money where her mouth is. "I have bought his book," she said last week. "I also want to support those charities — I really mean that."

The Pences' publisher, Regnery, also struck a conciliatory note. "Kudos to Oliver and [his publisher] Chronicle for the success they are enjoying, but that doesn’t make us any less excited over how well our book is doing," Regnery publisher Marji Ross said. "There’s plenty to go around for everyone and, like Charlotte said, we can all be happy the proceeds are going to a good cause."

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