Franken is by design a very funnyman with a long history
now as a Comedian in the American Entertainment Industry.
From his early days with Tom Davis on NBC's Saturday
Night Live show to his current cameos there as
the character Stuart Smalley the mantra mumbling "I'm
good enough, I'm smart enough and dog gone it people
like me" psychotherapist, Franken has always
been a reliable laugh a minute. That's his day job.
other job is as swaggering stalwart for establishmentarian
Democratic liberalism as manifest by his always-unwavering
support for fellow Ivy Leaguers Al Gore and Bill Clinton.
it should surprise no one then that Harvard University,
Franken's alma mater, drafted him to research and
write about matters related to media and public policy
for a year in residence at Harvard's JFK School of
Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
institutional liberal elite in the US has always been
slow to respond if at all to right-wing excesses from
within whether for example to eventually abolish Slavery
or Jim Crow. But respond they can and sometimes do
one way or the other much like when the US Army hired
Boston Attorney Joseph Welch of Hale & Dorr to
represent them versus the right wing excesses of Senator
Joseph McCarthy in the 1950's. Squabbling between
the two factions of the Business Party is permitted,
but tail biting is prohibited because it gives the
with Nexis-Lexis and Google, and funded by Harvard's
Shorenstein Trust, Al Franken was able to organize
a team of 15 dedicated Graduate Students. He named
them aptly enough "Team Franken" to assist
him in the research and writing of another one of
his hammering books that would (and does) skewer the
lies of a lot of the usual suspects at Fox News. He
called it: "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell
Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right".
It is currently, despite Fox News litigation efforts,
the number one New York Times bestseller and
is published by Dutton.
Franken had already done something similar with his
last Number One best selling book: "Rush Limbaugh
is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations".
In it, Franken humorously exposed this pompous fat
ass Reaganaut as the despicable anal wart that he
is, even bringing to light Mr. Super Patriot's draft
dodging deferment to get out of serving in Vietnam
for (you guessed it) anal warts.
lest you think Al Franken is some kind of uber-radical,
think again. His job, whether he knows it or not,
is to help keep the snake from biting its tail. And
he does it well causing a lot of belly laughs along
example, in response to Fox News regular Ann Coulter's
claim that the American media is in the hands of lefties
like Newsweek Bureau Chief Evan Thomas who
she said "is the son of Norman Thomas, a four-time
Socialist candidate for President." Franken points
out that Norman Thomas was actually the Socialist
candidate six times and not the father of Evan Thomas.
Proof says Al: "Why not call Evan Thomas?"
is Franken's transcript of his call with Evan Thomas:
Al: Evan, thank you for taking
Evan Thomas: No problem Al. What's up?
Al: Was Norman Thomas your father?
Al: Are you sure?
Al: And your father? What was his name?
Evan: Evan Thomas, Sr. I'm a junior.
Al: Uh-huh? And your father, Evan Thomas,
Sr., did he ever run for President?
Evan: No. He was in publishing.
Al: And you're sure?
Evan: Yes. Al, is this about that Ann Coulter
Evan: I heard about that. Is there something
wrong with her?
concludes that yes there is something wrong with Ann
Coulter...she is a nutcase: "Particularly considering
that when going after the book publishing industry,
Coulter complains that 'liberal jeremiads make it
to print without the most cursory fact-checking'".
he also finds Bill O'Reilly of The Factor on
Fox News deeply disturbing when he invites readers
to look under the following rocks:
had said it to a Muslim caller who criticized The
Caller: There's a lot of anti-Islamic rhetoric
on there. For instance, you know, you compared the
Koran to Mein Kampf.
No, I didn't. That's a lie.
it wasn't. The caller had been referring to a July
7, 2002, Factor regarding a controversy at
the University of North Carolina. The school had assigned
its incoming freshmen a book entitled, Approaching
the Qur'an: The Early Revelations. O'Reilly was
I don't know what this serves to take a look
at our enemy's religion. See I mean, I wouldn't
give people a book during World War II on the emperor
is God in Japan, would you?...I wouldn't read the
book. And I'll tell you why: I wouldn't have read
Mein Kamph either. If I were going to UNC
in 1941, and you, Professor, said, 'Read Mein
Kamph' I would have said, 'Hey, Professor, with
all due respect, shove it. I ain't reading it.'
Muslim caller tried in vain to explain his question.
'Can I just finish, sir? Can I just finish my question?'
Hold it. Hold it.' O'Reilly interrupted. 'No, you
can't finish. Because once you lie, you're out of
the box. That's the No Spin Zone. Get it? You can't
say on National Television, even if it is C-SPAN,
'You compared the Koran to Mein Kamph.'
That's a lie, all right? So you're out of the box.'"
much credit is due Rupert Murdoch for taking Fox News
way beyond Orwell in this land of free market democracy.
Not being a native though, he probably isn't aware
of what Political Scientists Thomas Dye and Harman
Ziegler called "The Irony of Democracy"
in America. That is, while the masses in general and
rich southwestern cowboys in particular don't for
the most part value democratic liberal notions of
consensus and fair play, the elite does, especially
the very wealthy northeastern kind. That's why they
funded the Revolutionary and Civil Wars among others
to keep this show on the road.
pre-school teachers putting on a morality puppet show,
the elite very much want us paying attention to their
great charade of oh you Democrats and oh you Republicans.
Similar tweedle dee and tweedle dum political party
machinations are played out in the UK and Ireland.
And like the high school Principal in Matthew Broderick's
1999 movie "The Election" (with Reese
Witherspoon at her very best), any radical political
talk beyond the norm will soon be met with a "Watch
2004, we will likely choose between this rich white
Yale Skull & Bones man (Bush), or that rich white
Yale Skull & Bones man (Kerry). Differences in
policy are fine so long as each offers a victory strategy
for Iraq and keeps some variant of Bill Clinton's
Patriot Act. Any meaningful alternatives beyond that
are well beyond the pale. It's a win-win situation
for some people anyway.
that's Al Franken's role. He is the clever court jester
for Democrats making fun of the other team's policy
arguments within the confines of what will be considered
acceptable critique. That is why in part he gives
thanks at the end of his book to John Kerry and Al
Gore and not Ralph Nader or Noam Chomsky or Howard
Franken is an establishmentarian liberal Democrat
with a sharp eye on dishonest right wingers like Ann
Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Bernard Goldberg
who have gone off the reservation of what our Elite
think ought to be considered acceptable political
discourse in this country.
while Franken rightly exposes the pathologies of these
prominent political TV & Radio personalities,
beware that Al does have a big blind spot for the
usual establishmentarian liberals such as Al Gore
and Bill Clinton. He lauds them over and over again
in his book without any mention of NAFTA, the Welfare
Reform Act, the Patriot Act, Waco, Ricky Ray Rector,
Susan McDougal, Mark Rich or Leonard Peltier.
example, at page 140:
The Clintons' energy, their intellectual intensity,
their compassion for those on the margins of
society, their fundamental belief that the world
could be made a better place - the right found all
of these extremely irritating. (Emphasis added).
because it just wasn't true. Clinton's Welfare Reform
Act was bereft of any compassion. It was intentionally
designed by Clinton's Health & Human Services
Department to cut single mothers with children off
welfare after five years. And that's what it is now
doing. Perhaps the right found this to be extremely
irritating because Clinton didn't cut them off sooner,
but whom is Al trying to kid?
Clinton was a better President than Bush, but that's
not a very high bar. And the blowjob was the least
of it. Remember, it was Bill Clinton who said: "You
can't love your country and hate your government."
all said though, it's still a funny book by a funnyman.
Buy it and you're sure to have lots of laughs.
* Al Franken does mention at
the very end of his book on page 379 that: "Evan
Thomas is the grandson of Norman Thomas". See
what I mean?
Al Franken's book is filled with numerous like kind
exposures just like this and he properly credits Team
Franken and many others for helping him out with all
the necessary fact checking to make this a scholarly
piece of work as well as hilarious.
Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews +
Letters + Archives