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Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right Paperback – July 27, 2004
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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 OReilly, 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, OReilly, 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
From Publishers Weekly
This witty, scrupulously researched and expertly delivered audio production accomplishes what few nonfiction audio books manage to do-it realizes the full potential of the format. Even those who have already read Franken's book should take the time to listen to this superb audio adaptation, which is enhanced by Franken's impeccable sense of comic timing, eerily precise impersonations and inclusion of source materials. In the most compelling section, for example, Franken juxtaposes two revealing clips to illustrate his view that the late Senator Paul Wellstone's memorial was "cynically distorted for partisan political advantage" not by the Democrats, but by the Republicans. The first clip is from Rush Limbaugh's radio show, where he proclaims in a heavy, lugubrious voice, "The Democrats wrenched Wellstone's soul right out of the grave, assumed it for themselves and then used it for their own blatant, selfish political ambitions.... Show me where the grief was!" Franken follows this with an excerpt from the memorial-which will bring tears to the eyes of any listener, partisan or non-in which David McLaughlin pays tribute to his younger brother, Will, who was Wellstone's driver, bodyguard, adviser and "the one who kept Paul going." By turns sad, funny and serious (but always satirical), this audio book has all the entertainment value of fiction (and even a one-act play called The Waitress and The Lawyer based on one of President Bush's radio addresses), but the issues Franken raises will stay with listeners long after their laughter has died down.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Top customer reviews
Franken's book doesn't offer that much more to an aging sixties (or was it seventies?) generation member. Just look at the list of recommended authors and related books this website offers. While a minority viewpoint in the bookstores here in South Carolina (and I assume even in New York), it's not like it can't be found. The information is not new to me. However, my 17 year old son found tons of information new to him. He took it to study hall every day; I had harbored vague hopes of being the first to review this book. But besides catharsis, I hope this book can help educate a new generation, which gets its news information so much from humorists.
The catharis did not stop with the purchase, or with the title, or with the funny introduction, but is maintained throughout the book. Not every moment, but more than you typically find in political humor. It's the style that differentiates this book--Franken's willingness to get down in the dirt and fight the right wing on its own unfair and unbalanced terms. But always with a wink, so that his irony is labeled irony; he claims to be a comedian, not a politician, not a journalist. As the right wing media does. For the reader, it's a bit like watching mud wrestling, a guilty pleasure.
The book does have its surprisingly humble moments. There are two (and I believe that is the final tally) issues about which Franken confesses to having been wrong. I'd rather not spoil the moments by going into detail. As it is, those moments add substance and nuance to what otherwise would mostly be a long rant.
Mostly, of course, it's a long rant. And for that, I say, "Thanks, I needed that."
If I hated Franken and wanted to go after him, I would have three examples from his book to use against him:
1. I would imply hypocrisy on his pro-affirmative action stance articulated in his chapter on race, because the photo of "Team Franken" is as whitebread as it gets (page 368). I can't believe he couldn't find an African-American or two at Harvard worthy of his team. This is the kind of thing from which Fox Network could get much mileage.
2. I would carefully read his endnotes and say some of his sources are easily suspect. For example, I have often heard from several sources (including comic Dennis Miller) that Hillary Clinton did not attend one memorial service for the 9/11 victims. This popular sound byte could use a sound Franken rebuttal. Unfortunately, Al's source for saying Hillary attended eleven events reads, "According to Senator Clinton's office, she's attended the following events..." Surely Franken could have come up with a less biased source to support Hillary Clinton than her own office. Fodder for Fox.
3. Uh, I guess there's only two. Oh, but I did find a typo, and unfortunately, it is in David McLaughlin's beautiful eulogy. On page 202, the second sentence in the paragraph which begins "The funny thing is Will and Paul really did work well together." You'll see it. Somebody call Rick Willett before the paperback. It's a shame to have this beautiful speech marred in any way.
On the positive side, Franken is brilliant at using neo-conservatives' words against them. Critics of this book oftentimes do not give specific examples to refute Franken, but when Franken quotes Ann Coulter from her own book, and then reproduces the front page of the newspaper which shows her untruth, it is really hard to dispute. This is Franken at his best.
Also, this book is laugh-out-loud funny at times. I read several passages aloud to my wife and a few co-workers. Franken is not afraid to be self-effacing, and this book will give a good laugh to those who are not infuriated by his ideology.