I'm not an apologist for Hugo Chavez. I think he's a populist demagogue. He does seem to be providing for the poor of his country, which is how he stays in power, but he's blowing Venezuela's oil revenues at a cracking pace, and the minute the oil price drops far enough, either his free-spending ways will stop, or (more likely) he'll keep spending on borrowed money and then default on the debt as hyperinflation flattens the country.
Whatever you may think of his politics, at least he's literate. His well advertised recommendation of Noam Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival does imply that he's read the thing; and having read some of Chomsky's linguistic work back when I was trying to convince myself that linguistics was interesting, I can confidently state that Chomsky is no Danielle Steele. Hell, he's no Jared Diamond; Diamond writes pretty accessibly about complex stuff. Chomsky is dense. Chomsky is obscure. If Chavez reads Chomsky, he has pretty advanced tastes and a good command of language. I wonder if he read him in English or in translation. Of course, Chavez also said it was a shame he never met Chomsky before he died; according to Wikipedia, as of today (Sept. 23, 2006), Chomsky isn't dead, so maybe Chavez can have his wish.
I would also compliment him on his remark that "the place smells of sulfur still" - that's a very poetic, effective and memorable line - except that I'm not sure whether he was speaking English or Spanish. If he was speaking Spanish, the poetic, effective and memorable line is his translator's.
The President of the United States is publicly linked with a book too. Unfortunately in his case the book is My Pet Goat...