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.
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