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Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them Hardcover – Import, August 21, 2003
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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.
Top customer reviews
Unlike Coulter's slanderous tome, this one actually talks about personal experiences and not conjecture leading no where. I've read both this book and "Treason" and all I can say is that I was able to get past the first chapter in this book without wondering aloud, "what is your point?!".
There is a bit too much profanity in this for my taste. I guess Mr. Frankin wanted to witness to his ire or add shock value. He did not succeed in either case, I don't beleive.
Still, with Mr. Franken's "psycho" personality (walking up to people and asking them pointed questions, rather than the softball stuff they get on talking head shows) he does hit some obvious vulnerable spots of the Right - particularly their self imposed "moral authority". Mr. Franken, rightly proves, that they have neither the morals they claim, nor any type of real leadership/authority (as the Iraq bumbling has once again proven). The Right is made up, primarily, of blustering empty suits who do just as many underhanded things as the Left (if not more) all the while saying all the culturally PC things that their side wants to hear (and believe about them). The list, for instance, of Rightwingers who have cheated on thier spouses is every bit as long as the Left's - yet the Christian Right continues to support AND FORGIVE them, but not their counterparts. This book clearly points out the hypocrisy in that very action - the ability to forgive one on your side but deamonize, ala Coulter and Rush Got-any-Drugs Limbaugh, others who disagree with you. Rush's hypocrisy is not on display here, but with Rush, as with most Republicans, it is only a matter of giving them enough rope/power.
Nowhere is the truth of Franken's effort more effectively shown than by the "reviewers" on this site who gave him one star. To a person, their "criticism" is expressed in ad hominum attacks; none counter with any arguments of substance.
That Franken is angry is obvious, but, for the most part, he tempers it with humor. An exception is his piece on how the right deliberately misrepresented the memorial service for Senator Paul Wellstone, accusing Democrats of using the occasion to make political hay while, in the doing, did exactly that themselves. Franken doesn't just offer a biased take on what happened that day in Minnesota, but quotes the conservative opportunists, complete with locations and dates.
Midway through the book Al offers up a brief diversion with a prequel to "Operation Chicken Hawk" which appeared in "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot..." Operation Chicken Hawk: Episode One, was almost worth the price of the book.
TeamFranken, as Al refers to the fourteen Harvard students, who did most of his research, were right on the money in their quest for the facts. I say this because, even though I'm a stunch liberal, I didn't accept their stuff out of hand. I made at least twenty random checks for myself, including the GAO report of its investigation into charges that Clinton staffers "trashed" the White House during the 2000 presidential transition. I was able to verify every one.
Franken isn't writing fiction, as some here have charged. What he's done is called the "Liars" out and exposed them. I watched, for instance, his bout with Bill O'Reilly, and read for myself O'Reilly's handling of the son of one of the men who died at the World Trade Center, who made the mistake of going on his show. Bill didn't like what he was saying so cut him off, in mid sentence, then, when they went off the air, threatened to beat him up. The account I read was written by the man involved.
"Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them..." can be read with confidence in its accuracy. As for enjoyment, it depends on the premium you put on the truth. The blinded right will run from the glare of Franken's spotlight.