Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein are both fascist wankers, and neither of them are anywhere close to the greatest American philosopher of the 20th century. No doubt they both have redeeming qualities. Reading Heinlein can be an amusing diversion. But why would they be nominated for the greatest American philosopher of the 20th century? This writeup is now long gone.
Most of Heinlein's earlier fiction is just entertainment with a large quotient of wish-fulfilment, aimed at adolescents or geeks (i.e. emotionally adolescent people with an interest in hi-tech toys).
Starship troopers, in particular, is an extended exercise in the technophilic and destructophilic equivalent of masturbation. I didn't read Starship Troopers as a parody the first time round, and neither did any of my impressionable teenage friends. This was a book written by a navy man, with a victorious soldier as the gung-ho action hero, published in America in 1959, during the cold war and shortly after World War II. If you want parody from that period, see Catch-22. Thanks DejaMorgana for pointing this out. The way that the Paul Verhoeven movie of 1997 mocked the original 50s text is beside the point.
Not to mention his later works, which become increasingly transparent sexual fantasies.
I shouldn't comment on Ayn Rand, as reading The Fountainhead was quite enough for me. If this is philosophy, then what does it say about the human condition? This too seems more like an excercise in self-justification and self-gratification.
I say Fascist because they both emphasise the will of an individual over any egalitarian or democratic process. And presumably the rest of use would have to either agree with him or just be wrong.
This is dodgy at best and very much in line with mid-20th century fascism. This arrogant view is often implicitly or explicitly held by geeks, but it fails miserably as a principle of social organisation because half the population is below average on any given measure of competence.
See also Why Robert Heinlein Bugs the Hell out of me, You call that philosophy?, Why do geeks love Robert Heinlein?