Al Franken, "one of our savviest satirists" (People), takes on the issues, the politicians, and the pundits in one of the most anticipated books of the year.
For the first time since his own classic Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, Al Franken trains his subversive wit directly on the contemporary political scene. Now, the "master of political humor" (Washington Times) destroys the myth of liberal bias in the media, and exposes how the Right shamelessly tries to deceive the rest of us.
No one is spared as Al uses the Right's own words against them. Not the Bush administration and their rhetorical hypocrisy. Not Ann Coulter and her specious screeds. Not the new generation of talk-radio hosts, and not Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes, and the entire Fox network. This is the book Al Franken fans have been waiting for (and his foes have been dreading). Timely, provocative, unfailingly honest, and always funny, Lies is sure to become the most talked about book of political humor in 2003 and beyond.
Having previously dissected the factual inaccuracies of a single bellicose talk show host in Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, Al Franken takes his fight to a larger foe: President George W. Bush, the Bush Administration, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, and scores of other conservatives whom, he says, are playing loose with the facts. It's a lot of ground to cover, as evidenced by the 43 chapters in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, but the results are often entertaining and insightful. Franken occupies a unique place in the modern political dialogue as perhaps the media's only comedy writer and performer who is also a Harvard fellow as well as a liberal political commentator. This unique and vaguely lonely position lends a charming quixotic quality to adventures such as a tense encounter with the Fox News staff at the National Press Club, a challenge to fisticuffs with National Review Editor Rich Lowry, and an oddly sweet admissions visit to ultra-conservative Bob Jones University (with a young research assistant posing as his son when Franken's real-life son refuses to participate in the charade). Less useful are comic book dramatizations of "Supply Side Jesus" and a fictitious Vietnam War story featuring the numerous righties who, Franken intimates, improperly avoided service. And Franken's criticisms of conservative talk show hosts Sean Hannity, O’Reilly, and columnist Coulter, while admirable in their attention to detail, fail to shed much new light on people who have built careers on broad arguments and relentless self-aggrandizement. But Franken is at his best, and most compellingly readable, when he backs off the wackiness and the personal grudges and writes about more personal matters such as the political circus surrounding the memorial service of the late Senator Paul Wellstone. But even on these more serious topics, Franken's wit is still present and, in fact, grows sharper. In a time when much political discourse is composed of rage and shouting, it's refreshing that Al Franken is able to shout in a witty manner. --John Moe