It might seem a tad redundant for us to say so, what with The Kansas City Star's constant socialist polemic, but we're living in one of the darkest periods in American history.
But that's good news for lovers of satire -- we happy-go-lucky folks who go to bed hoarse from watching C-SPAN and screaming, "Horseshit!" -- because Al Franken had plenty of material for his new best-seller, Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them): A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.
Rather than revisiting Franken's televised dustup with Bill O'Reilly this past June, or mentioning Fox News' failed copyright-infringement injunction against Lies, or describing the book's compelling agit-comedy, we, the liberal media, would like to point out something interesting: Despite copious endnotes, conservative shrew Ann Coulter (a Lies target) credits no researchers in her books' brief acknowledgments. (Franken worked with fourteen Harvard students and thanks numerous sources in Lies.) Think Coulter just notecarded everything herself?
Franken, his acknowledgments make clear, has an insider's Rolodex. But despite his sometimes glib Minnesotan politesse, he doesn't affect Michael Moore's faux naïvete when he goes hunting for hypocrisy. In fact, Franken's "so I called ... " is one of Lies' most successful devices, a commonsense approach to gathering the book's dispiriting list of contradictions. You might call Wall Street Journal op-ed editor Paul Gigot, too, if you thought he'd answer his own phone and respond to questions about what Franken calls a "startlingly dumb" Journal editorial. And if you really wanted to talk to Paul Gigot.
Critics who approach Lies as political analysis miss the point. As its title suggests, the book instead functions as a very funny catalog of pundit-driven distortions and partisan sleights of hand. Still, Lies is probably the most-researched humor writing ever published. The determination of ramparts blowhards such as David Horowitz and Andrew Sullivan to dispute Franken's tone more than his text only puts a finer point on his satire.
Because the book is a hit, and because Franken is the only working political satirist who doesn't require a piano for his act or a hand job before the red light goes on, the author's book tour has become campaignlike. Appearances and interviews have taken on stump-speech similarities, with Franken recapitulating some of the book's funniest lines in each new forum. And like a candidate for office, Franken's accessibility has decreased as he has received more attention. (In other words, he didn't have time to talk to us.)
But it's easy to forgive Franken these things if more people are getting his message. People like Amazon.com feedback writer "Reader from Kansas City, Missouri," who knows that discourse is all about being adversarial. "Once again, the left cannot argue facts with the right, so instead they do what they are best at, making fun of the right," Reader writes in a one-star review of Lies. "Too bad your side can't come up with an intelligent journalist ... all you liberals seem to be able to do is shout lounder [sic] and be more rude, as shown here once again by this obnoxious excuse for a human being."
We suggest that Reader go to the Uptown Thursday night to hear Franken read from Lies.