Jan 13, 2017 ยท 4 minutes

Earlier this week, the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd interviewed Peter Thiel (a Pando investor, for crying out loud) about his support for Donald Trump. The interview appeared in the newspaper’s Fashion and Style section.

In any normal universe, that combination of words alone would have been remarkable and hilarious. Peter Thiel! The Fashion and Style Section! Donald Trump!

But this is no longer a normal universe, so even Valley Watchers might have been forgiven for skimming over the details of the conversation, distracted as we all were this week by Trump’s continuing attacks on the press, cabinet confirmation hearings and, of course, golden showers.

Which is a shame because Thiel’s Style profile actually broke some actual, meaningful news. Specifically, Dowd was able to get Thiel to confirm that Palantir will not help Trump build his Muslim database.

We would not do that,” Mr. Thiel says flatly.

Quite right too. As I wrote last month, Palantir is by far the best placed company to help Trump carry out his unconstitutional threat to track Americans based on their religion. A flat denial is the only shape of denial that’s appropriate for a proposal so hideous.

Thiel’s denial also redirects the spotlight on to Oracle CEO Safra Catz who has promised to help Trump “in any way we can” and, of course, has the technology to back that promise up when it comes to a Muslim database. Catz now finds herself in the unenviable position of refusing to rule out doing something that’s too grotesque and evil even for Peter Thiel and Palantir.

So that was the big news in the profile -- but you really should read the whole thing. Not least because Dowd’s conversation with Thiel gives us our best insights yet into why one of the world’s smartest men would want to help the presidential ambitions of one of the world’s dumbest.

Insights including...

Thiel (who sued Gawker out of existence for outing him as gay) on why Silicon Valley needs to get over its hyper-political correctness about men boasting about sexual assault...

"On the one hand, the [Billy Bush] tape was clearly offensive and inappropriate. At the same time, I worry there’s a part of Silicon Valley that is hyper-politically correct about sex.”

Thiel (who complained that we have 140 characters, not flying cars) on why he still believes in Trump…

I always have very low expectations, so I’m rarely disappointed,” he says.

...and on Trump supporters’ vision of going back to the future…

“Even if there are aspects of Trump that are retro and that seem to be going back to the past, I think a lot of people want to go back to a past that was futuristic — ‘The Jetsons,’ ‘Star Trek.’ They’re dated but futuristic.”

Thiel (a hedge fund guy who works in Silicon Valley) on how -- surprise! -- hedge fund guys calibrate their moral compasses by profit and self interest...

"Somehow, I think Silicon Valley got even more spun up than Manhattan. There were hedge fund people I spoke to about a week after the election. They hadn’t supported Trump. But all of a sudden, they sort of changed their minds. The stock market went up, and they were like, ‘Yes, actually, I don’t understand why I was against him all year long.’"

Thiel (who is just trolling us all at this point) on Russian hacking vs Iraq WMDs…

"There’s a strong circumstantial case that Russia did this thing. On the other hand, I was totally convinced that there were W.M.D.s in Iraq in 2002, 2003."

And Thiel on how at least we’re all going to die laughing…

"There was a way in which Trump was funny, so you could be apocalyptic and funny at the same time. It’s a strange combination, but it’s somehow very powerful psychologically."

And yet, and yet. Amongst all the sociopathy and delusion, there was at least one part of the interview in which Thiel wasn’t just right, but profoundly right. It came when Dowd asked him why Twitter wasn’t invited to the big Trump Tower tech meeting.

After explaining that Twitter wasn’t big or powerful enough to share a table with Steve Bannon and Eric Trump, Thiel perfectly summed up the company’s impact on the election...

"I think the crazy thing is,” he says, “at a place like Twitter, they were all working for Trump this whole year even though they thought they were working for Sanders.”

Apocalyptically funny cos it’s true.