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Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency Paperback – February 8, 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this hilarious political satire, Al Franken reveals how, by focusing relentlessly on the issue of ATM fees, he managed to wrest the Democratic presidential nomination away from Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 elections and become the 44th president of the United States. He then wound up running the second-shortest administration in American history, announcing in his resignation speech: "It is my fondest wish that, in the fullness of time, the American people will look back on the Franken presidency as something of a mixed bag and not as a complete disaster."

Why Not Me? is divided into three main sections. The first, "Daring to Lead," is Franken's "authorized campaign autobiography," in which he lays out his life story and his reasons for seeking the nation's highest office. Then, in his campaign diaries, we follow Franken and his team of advisers--including former Clinton pollster Dick Morris and Dan Haggerty, TV's Grizzly Adams--across New Hampshire and Iowa. Finally, there's "The Void," the behind-the-scenes account by Bob Woodward of Franken's first 100 days in the Oval Office. As a writer, Franken takes aim at a lot of targets, with nary a miss; there are enough great jokes in Why Not Me? to make almost anybody break down with a fit of the giggles at some point (especially at pages 132 to 133, but don't peek! It'll spoil the buildup). --Ron Hogan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

For all those who want their political humor more political?and funnier?than the usual late-night TV fare, there's Al Franken. Here's the scenario: the millennial presidential campaign is nearly upon us, and Franken (Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot) has not merely thrown his hat in the ring?he's provided the three-ring-plus circus as well. With dead-on parodies of several forms of political media (campaign diary, strategist's memo, televised debate, Sunday morning talk show, newspaper story, magazine feature, Bob Woodward expose, etc.), this book tells the story of the improbable Franken candidacy, the humorist's more improbable success and his scandalous downfall. The pandering single issue is lower ATM fees, which allows Franken to win the Democratic primary by painting front-runner Al Gore as a tool of the banking interests. The loose-cannon campaign chief is the candidate's brother, Otto, who pops up in selected states as chief supporter "Dotto Dranken" or "Botto Branken." The effective fund-raising strategy is a 900 number for Franken info and lesbian phone sex. There's also a narrative of presidential scandal as written by Woodward, which includes chronic fatigue syndrome, bipolar episodes, misprescribed medication, an attack on the revered Nelson Mandela (Franken ruptures the great man's spleen) and an abortive attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein?personally. This leads to the first-ever Joint Congressional Committee to Investigate the President's Mood Swings. While the book drags in a few places, it remains consistently?often howlingly?funny, as well as slyly subversive in the way it punctures the conventions of our highly ritualized campaign system. Did we mention the first all-Jewish Cabinet (including Ralph Lauren as secretary of the interior) arguing about Chinese food? First serial to George; BOMC and QPB alternates; BDD audio; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (February 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385334540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385334549
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #431,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was a great fan of Al Franken during his SNL days. I bought this book hoping for some flashes of that comic genius, however, it's not to be found in this effort. The ATM fee angle gets real tired and the whole work lacks the subtle wit that we were treated to in his glory days. Maybe his work on Newsline should have been a clue, but I recommend skipping this one. My advice: save your money and watch SNL reruns.
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Format: Paperback
If you are a intense Al Franken fan back from the years of SNL, as I am, this "novel" will capture your interest moreso than any I have read so far. Laugh-out loud comedy in the form of bringing Al Gore down through subversive and humorous tactics show how American politics could let an ordinary man take the ropes at our nation's highest office. Although a good friend to President Clinton in real life, this pseudo-diary adds the perfect blends of speeches, entries of his hatred for his family, treating of campain chairs as children, and extra-marrital affairs which are never discovered. The attachment to a ATM issue which gives him a 38% dominance over Al Gore seems a bit upserd, but lends the reader some powerful commendary on the type of people running for office. Absolutely a winner that left my sides aking from laughter.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a big fan of Al Franken, perhaps I hold him to too high a standard, but I found that the first half of the book more than lived up to his previous works. The campaign trail and his combination of both clever and ridiculous commentary made the book truly a fun read. I especially loved the extra effort to put in action photos and newspaper headlines, making the whole spectacle of the Franken candidacy seem all the more outrageous.
Once in office, I found the book a little lacking. It almost seemed like Al ran out of steam and wanted to stop writing. Beyond the all Jewish cabinet, I really did not read a whole lot to laugh or at least smirk about. The wit that was present during the campaign trail really disappeared.
I plan to read the campaign trail part of the book again, since it is really good stuff. Just be warned that it goes downhill from the moment Al enters office.
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Format: Paperback
This wacky alternate history of the 2000 Presidential election sees Al Franken defeat Al Gore for the Democratic nomination and Newt Gingrich in the general election by using the ATM fees "issue" and a lot of illegal skullduggery, which hysterically comes to light after he starts reading from his diary during a press conference. We don't really need more proof after the 2016 election cycle that there is no limit to how ridiculous American politics can become. However, Franken sets out to provide just that.

The really interesting questions are: Had Franken already decided to run for the US Senate when he wrote this book in 1999? It did follow upon his other highly successful "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations," his first foray into political polemics. Did Franken's choice in the book of Joe Lieberman as a running mate influence Al Gore's decision in the 2000 cycle to pick Lieberman? And most of all, doesn't the ability to send yourself up so perfectly indicate that Franken is just the man Hillary Clinton should pick as his running mate this cycle? I know he would mop the floor with anyone willing to be Trump's running mate in the Vice-Presidential debate.
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Format: Paperback
Dan Haggerty's death reminded me of this book, also with the primaries coming up it is a very timely read.

I'll start by saying this book isn't for everyone. If you don't know a lot about the political process, most of it will go over your head in a hurry.

Ill also say that the beginning and end are not really that funny. But what makes this book four stars is the middle "diary" portion. This part is pure comedic genius. It is campaign part of his presidency and he uses real people (like Haggerty) to carry it out. His main focus is on ATM fees, which is pretty funny and somewhat prophetic because Bernie Sanders just brought it up. During the campaign, he shamelessly sells out to insurance companies and breaks basically every single campaign law on the books. It is written in this kind of shorthand that omits certain words that I find hysterical. There were parts of this book that I was laughing so hard at I couldn't even look at the page.

The real great part is I don't think many of his other books are particularly funny or entertaining. But he knocked it out of the park with this one. If you are into politics, regardless of what you think of Al Franken himself, check this book out.
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Let's consider 'Why Not Me' a trial run for Al Franken's better written follow-up 'Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.' All of Franken's work bears the hallmarks of his sketch comedy background - it's an ensemble of pieces, some of which work, some of which don't. In 'Lies,' roughly 80% or more of the pieces hit the mark (I wasn't a fan of the cartoons). In 'Why Not Me,' it's about 50%. Like the Bob Woodward parody ('The Void'), for example: funny for about the first five pages (you laugh when you see Franken's nailed Woodward's melodramatic scene-setting and habit of assembling conversations as if he were in the room). But it drags on and on. How many readers got though the whole piece? Not many I bet.

Like others, I agree that the campaign diary worked the best, followed closely by the faux Newsweek piece - the classic campaign shot of Franken chopping wood with Golden Retriever at his side is a howler. Talk about spot-on. I think the best part of the entire book is the 'one issue' campaign (elimination of ATM Fees) and how Candidate Franken steers all discussion back to that point. Watching both Bush and Kerry try to route every question back to stump speech set pieces makes you realize that there's sometimes a fine line between parody and reality.
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