Ross, I didn't even think of anti-Americanism here. I mentioned Chirac (who is a right-wing politician btw, pace Forscher) because he built most of his career on demagogy, often criticising technocrats although he is himself a graduate from the most prestigious technocratic college (Ecole nationale de l'administration, ENA), flattering the "gut feelings" of people (including xenophobia sometimes) instead. As a result he doesn't appear to be an "intellectual" (former president Mitterrand often ridiculed him on that) and many just love him for that (not so far from Bush in this regard afaik) -- although he tried to correct this image in the last few years, especially with counsellors/ministres as De Villepin.
As for the main topic, I think Dave, after Nicolaou and AlanF, is right on: most people just never learnt to think and trust (or even enjoy) their own thinking (which first implies separating facts from opinions). They are afraid of the loneliness which "independent thinking" (a pleonasm) requires (whence the herd mentality Frankie and U/D mentioned). They tend to trust the person (preacher or politician) which gives them a simple imaginary picture of reality through purely rhetorical questions, rather than listening to the expert who offers a honest presentation of complex facts and really open questions, and then leaves them alone to handle them. And the close circle of questions and answers in the WT is a perfect caricature of how any mind-control system actually works.
Now about Sixie's "mythturbation" (great neologism, unfortunately this one doesn't work in French), I guess we're all mythturbators to an extent. Even the concepts we use could be described as mythemes. Only, what Western thought has learnt from the Greek philosophers is that there is more to myths than "beliefs". They can be tools to grasp reality, provided we use them as such instead of "believing" them (the old story of the moon and the finger). Which implies an ability to criticise our own myths/concepts and regard them as they are -- provisional cognitive tools, not "the truth". From this point of view, I think there is no real gap between "religion" and "philosophy": both belong to the history of thought.
Now while there is little doubt that anti-intellectualism is cynically exploited by religious and political demagogues, perhaps the intellectuals have some responsibility in it too, as Forscher suggested. What do you think?