Review: “Lying Liars” by Al Franken

The full title of this book is actually “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look At the Right” (deep breath) but I thought that was a bit too much to stuff in the header.

I haven’t read a political tome written by a comedian before (unless you count John Stossel).  The screaming polemics I usually see are composed by raging partisians and curmudgeonly hacktivists, most of whom seem to be refugees from government and/or Focks News. I did slog my way through one of Sean Hannity’s and Ann Coulter’s bestsellers (the ones that now go for one cent on Amazon) and I don’t remember a word they said.

I daresay I’ll remember Al, even if I wasn’t keeping the book, because I laughed out loud at several points during the proceedings.

Al skewers a great many targets in this book with admirable snarkitude, but he saves his sharpest, most barbed wit for a series of Republican shills: the aforementioned Hannity and Coulter, plus Bill O’Reilly, with a side serving of the (thank God) ex-President and Vice President for good measure. He does this by dishing up a juicy, poisonous stew of their own words and asking the reader: Did they really say this and is it true?

Almost always, it isn’t.

Sean Hannity, in particular, succumbs to the Mark Twain syndrome (via Charles Wentworth Dilke, accoring to Wikipedia): “lies, damn lies, and statistics.”  I don’t want to spoil too much, but chapter 14 (along with chapters 15, 28 and 41) shows how, if you believe what is written by the Lying Liars crowd, you get a totally distorted view of American history over the last thirty years. As in, “Ronald Reagan balanced the budget, Bill Clinton ignored terrorism, and by the way, we Did Too find those weapons of mass destruction!”

It’s astonishing to me how people can say these things with a straight face (and appear to believe them), but that’s a deeper subject than Al Franken wants to tackle, at least in this book.  Regardless, I highly recommend it.

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