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Buy one of the following Al Franken books from amazon.com:

'Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations' (1996)

'Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency' (1998)

'Oh, the Things I Know!: A Guide to Success, Or, Failing That, Happiness' (2002)

'Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right' (2003)


A Fair and Balanced Book Review

Al Franken knows how to get under Bill O'Reilly's skin--and that's a good thing


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BY NOW, most people are familiar with Al Franken's bestselling assault on right-wing media: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. The hysteria began last August when Fox News filed one of the silliest lawsuits in recent history, claiming that Franken stole their copyrighted slogan, "Fair and Balanced." The lawsuit was laughed out of court, Franken released the book a month early, and it debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

With scathing sarcasm, Franken murderously tears into the conservative agendas of Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, pointing out several specific instances where he says they deliberately lied and misled. Franken says that Fox's popular show Hannity and Colmes isn't remotely fair and balanced, and that Alan Colmes is just Fox's token liberal who barely gets a word in edgewise on his own show. Throughout the book, Colmes' name is printed in a much smaller font size: Hannity and Colmes.

In a passage already stirring up heated exchanges, Franken counters the archconservative argument that liberals hate America: "[Conservatives] just don't get it. We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America the way a 4-year-old loves her mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad, and helping your loved one grow."

Franken also claims that right-wing pundits have turned political discourse into a "wasteland of personal destruction" and they are an army of like-minded ideologues bent on shredding the already tattered standards of decency. "The left, sadly, has no such army," he laments. "Our attack dogs are a scrawny, underfed pack of mutts that spend half the time chasing their own tails and sniffing each other's butt."

The book is loaded with hilarious anecdotes. In one particular chapter, Franken appears on Phil Donahue's show with Bernard Goldberg, author of Bias: How the Media Distorts the News. Franken then nails him, pointing out a spot in the book where Goldberg takes a John Chancellor quote totally out of context, doesn't verify the source and mislabels it as liberal hate speech. The chapter is called, "I Bitch-Slap Bernie Goldberg." In another chapter, Franken counters right-wing commentators who spout that Clinton was soft on terrorism. He quotes an Aug. 12, 2002, cover story for Time Magazine describing Richard Clarke's comprehensive plan to fight Al Qaeda that Clinton handed over to the Bush administration. Franken says Bush then implemented "Operation Ignore" and didn't take the plan into account.

All in all, liberals will have to decide whether or not they actually want Al Franken to be one of their spokesmen. Throughout his attacks, Franken oddly keeps reiterating that he's "just a comedian."

Al Franken appears for a reading and discussion on Friday (Oct. 24) at 7:30pm at Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park.

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From the October 23-29, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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