The Good: Funny, Well Argued, Well Researched, Clever
The Bad: Obviously biased, "Supply Side Jesus" comic
The Basics: When Al Franken takes on the Conservative Media Engine, the reader gets a chance to be amused and enlightened. And reinvigorated.
Long before he was a Senator, most of us knew Al Franken from his roles on Saturday Night Live like Stewart Smally. Since then, Franken has proven himself to be a great deal more than a simple comic actor who makes wry observations on political circumstances. In Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Franken steps up to take on the horrible biases in the media and the attacks that Conservative commentators are making on the Left and failing to make on the Bush Administration as it continues its irresponsible actions in the world. Despite the fact that those years are now behind us, Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them is still relevant because many of the individuals and institutions Franken calls out in the book are still in place and power today.
Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them is an assault on the stranglehold the Conservatives who are running the Bush Administration have over the media. Franken takes on the vocal supporters the Bush Administration has in the media by disproving their arguments and fighting tooth and nail with them over the irresponsible and inflammatory things they say. Topics in the book include: An all out attack on Ann Coulter, Conservatives who claim Liberals are all weak and weak-kneed (Chapter 38 is one of the funniest things I have ever read), Disproving the "liberal media" allegation, How Fox News distorts and dissembles, The tone of politics in Washington and the national discourse on it, Lies of George W. Bush, The hypocrisy of those preaching abstinence, and disproving the statements of Bush in regard to his tax cuts.
Now, there's a lot to dislike in this book. For example, Al Franken rips into Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity something fierce. No, wait, he destroys the arguments they claim to make and exposes their hypocrisies as well. I suppose it's hard not to like the truth. In all honesty, there is a lot that is pretty wonderful in this book, especially for those of us still feeling let down about the events of the 2004 election process.
Take, for example, his assault on the arguments of Ann Coulter. He illustrates quite efficiently the ways she makes her arguments on faulty principles. He investigates some of her endnotes to illustrate how she lies in her arguments by using endnotes that are hard to find and do not truly represent the truths she claims to be articulating. As someone who could barely stand her poorly presented, ridiculously argued High Crimes And Misdemeanors, this is of no surprise to me.
One of the individuals who speaks for the Right that I had not encountered before this book was Sean Hannity. Apparently, he's quite popular and quite vicious. Franken very rationally exposes him as a fraud in the way he makes his arguments, by comparing the words of support Hannity has for Bush and the office of the President against comments Hannity made on his show speaking out against Bill Clinton. Franken quite correctly and efficiently exposes the despicable contradictions in the Right between the reverence they show to the office of the President for Republican presidents vs. Democratic ones.
It truly is that simple. Franken amazingly articulates a whole bevy of lies from people who claim to be impartial. He exposes Fox News for being biased and self-serving while claiming to be "Fair and Balanced" and "news." Franken is incredibly deft at making arguments and defusing the venom of the Right-wing media empire that has sprouted up.
Franken gives us hope. In a world plagued by chaos and run by people who are looking out for themselves, Al Franken crafts a clever, quick-read book that will energize the depressed spirit of anyone on the Left. He has a sharp mind and a keen wit and an ability to reduce complex issues to their most basic side. And it's clear from the beginning of the book how much Franken loves America and believes in living with the ideals of freedom and justice, rather than just using them as a sound byte.
In fact, the only items I did not like especially were the two instances when Franken strayed from sharp arguments and got creative. I'm a novelist, so I love creative, but in Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them something just rings wrong with "Operation Chickenhawk: Episode One" and "The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus." I actually enjoyed the messages of the Supply Side Jesus bit, but I felt it did not fit in with this particular book all that well. The messages are great, very clearly illustrating how the Bush Administration and its cronies have distorted Jesus to their own means. But the method of delivery for this argument did not fit the tone, pace and punch of the rest of the book.
Who won't enjoy this book? Conservatives who are idealogues instead of willing to actually look at their beliefs and those who they let speak for them. Who will enjoy this book? All those who believe in free speech, are tired of bias in the media and liberals with broken hearts. This is our "Chicken Soup" book and it will get you pumped to continue the fight and a lot of ammo to fight with.
For other political books and humor volumes, please check out my reviews of:
Keeping Faith - Jimmy Carter
The Onion Presents "Our Front Pages"
The New York City Bartender's Joke Book - Jimmy Pritchard
For other book reviews, please check out my index page for an organized listing by clicking here!
© 2010, 2004 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.