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Saturday Night Live alumnae crusades against conservative views

| Monday, March 29, 2004

Al Franken became famous as a Saturday Night Live cast member and Emmy-winning writer, playing characters like Stuart Smalley. Since leaving the show, however, he has turned his attention towards politics. He officially came out as a liberal with “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot” in 1999, and has again used his satirical wit to criticize conservatives and the Republican Party with “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.”

Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government offered Franken a fellowship in their Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. Using a Harvard research team, Franken wrote this book. This Harvard fellowship and research team lend credit to the book’s accuracy, especially as Franken constantly reveals the lies of conservative writers. Franken also points out that only one mistake was found in Rush Limbaugh, and Franken found that mistake himself.

According to Franken, God told him to write “Lies” in response to individuals who claim the media has a liberal bias. Franken works to prove otherwise, attacking conservative media, especially characters like Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly, though Franken prefers to call them “Nutcase” and “Bill O’Lie-ly.” By pointing out their blatant lies and conservative propaganda, Franken broadens his criticism to the entire Bush administration.

For example, in his chapter entitled “Operation Ignore,” Franken addresses both the conservative media’s claims that President Bill Clinton was partly to blame for Sept. 11 and that the Bush administration worked to prevent any terrorist attacks. In refuting these claims, Franken first addresses how Clinton’s administration had actively fought terrorism, especially from Al Qaeda, and had successfully subverted several attacks. Franken then traces the George W. Bush administration’s action from inauguration through September 11, emphasizing not only how little attention the administration paid to terrorism, but also how little Bush worked.

Franken also often adds a creative spark to his satire. To point out the flaws of the “No Child Left Behind Act,” Franken writes his own standardized test, which calculates what percentage of children actually have been left behind because of Bush’s reluctance to financially support the program. Franken also attacks general conservative ideology with a cartoon about “Supply-Side Jesus”, showing how the Lord’s teachings would have differed had He been a profit-hungry capitalist.

The book is consistently informative and funny, as Franken takes the reader through his own personal search for weapons of mass destruction, tells about his less-than-friendly encounter with former First Lady Barbara Bush, recounts a trip he took to the ultra-conservative Bob Jones University and freely attacks the long career of Karl Rove, a Bush strategist. Readers learn a lot about politics and the players who currently dominate it, but the book is never dull. Franken’s sharp humor keeps the book light and the reader laughing.

“Lies” has received great reviews by liberals since its publication. However, conservatives probably want to avoid this book, as it blatantly mocks their ideology and leadership throughout. Franken attacks basically every member of the Bush administration and of Fox News. While he does make a point to be accurate and not resort to “lies,” as he claims his opposition does, Franken’s liberal agenda is clear and pronounced – ultimately limiting his audience.

Overall, the book stands out because Franken blends his researched political statements with his dry humor, making “Lies” a great read, especially in the election year. Luckily, those interested in hearing more of Franken’s witty political observations can catch his upcoming show “The O’Franken Factor” (a spin-off show of the ultra-conservative “The O’Reilly Factor”) on the new Air America Radio, which will begining March 31. Franken’s show will run Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., and promises to point out and crtiticize more lies in conservative media and political platforms.