Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

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Overview

Al Franken, "one of our savviest satirists" (People), takes on the issues, the politicians, and the pundits in one of the most anticipated books of the year.

For the first time since his own classic Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, Al Franken trains his subversive wit directly on the contemporary political scene. Now, the "master of political humor" ...
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Overview

Al Franken, "one of our savviest satirists" (People), takes on the issues, the politicians, and the pundits in one of the most anticipated books of the year.

For the first time since his own classic Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, Al Franken trains his subversive wit directly on the contemporary political scene. Now, the "master of political humor" (Washington Times) destroys the myth of liberal bias in the media, and exposes how the Right shamelessly tries to deceive the rest of us.

No one is spared as Al uses the Right's own words against them. Not the Bush administration and their rhetorical hypocrisy. Not Ann Coulter and her specious screeds. Not the new generation of talk-radio hosts, and not Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes, and the entire Fox network. This is the book Al Franken fans have been waiting for (and his foes have been dreading). Timely, provocative, unfailingly honest, and always funny, Lies is sure to become the most talked about book of political humor in 2003 and beyond.

Author Biography: Al Franken is the bestselling author of Oh, the Things I Know!, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, Why Not Me?, and I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough and Doggone It, People Like Me!

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Note to Bill O'Reilly, the de facto publicist for Lies thanks to Fox News's hapless efforts to block its publication: Never say "Never said it" or "You can't find a transcript where I said it" when a man with 14 researchers is on your trail. In a book that baits its targets with varying degrees of success, Mr. Franken makes a bull's-eye out of Mr. O'Reilly. First the prize: he shows how Mr. O'Reilly's erroneous claim that he won a Peabody Award evolved into even bigger fibs once it was challenged. — Janet Maslin
The Washington Post
This guy Al Franken is nasty. He's mean. He's vicious. He is, in short, the perfect guy to write a book attacking America's nasty, mean, vicious right-wing pols, pundits and preachers. But Franken has something that his targets conspicuously lack -- a sense of humor. This book is laugh-out-loud funny. — Peter Carlson
Library Journal
Franken returns to the political arena with his best book yet. Along with the 14 Harvard students who make up "Team Franken," he employs a somewhat unique approach in writing this work: fact-checking and research to back up his satirical look at the right. The first major target he tackles is the myth that the media are liberal; a brief look at the 2000 presidential election debacle should be enough to convince most rational people to the contrary. Fortunately, Franken has many more examples. His appearances on C-SPAN have shown what happens when conservative talk-show host Bill O'Reilly tries to use his vocal bullying tactics on a professional satirist. The author covers this event and other media misrepresentations with wit and humor. The chapters on Bush's tax cuts, environmental record, and the ongoing war will help convince the listener that it wasn't just Al Gore who was bushwhacked in Florida. Sure to be a hit with Franken's many fans, this program is highly recommended for all libraries. For those not blinded by the right, this will serve as a wake-up call to look further than the local paper or TV news coverage for topics that matter.-Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ., Russellville Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786262090
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 3/18/2004
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 631
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.75 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Two-time spoken word Grammy ® award winner AL FRANKEN is the author of four previous bestsellers. A long-time comedy writer who rose to prominence as one of the original Saturday Night Live writers in the 1970s, Franken won five Emmy® Awards for his work on SNL.

Biography

Al Franken's career as a comedian and political satirist has made him a star of television, movies, and books. Born in New York City, Franken grew up in Minneapolis and started his stand-up career while still in high school. He moved back east to study political science at Harvard University, and the civil rights movements of the 1960s had a profound effect on his politics. Franken tried to blend his two passions by applying for a position at the Harvard Lampoon but was, ironically, rejected.

After Harvard, Franken and a former high school friend, Tom Davis, toured the country as a stand-up team. Fate stepped in when Lorne Michaels caught their act and hired them in 1975 for a new sketch-comedy show based on the Monty Python premise. That show, of course, was the legendary Saturday Night Live. As writers and performers, Franken and Davis were instrumental in putting the edgy new show on the map.

Franken has had an on-and-off relationship with the show, leaving for years at a time to work on outside projects. When he returned to SNL in the late 1980s, Franklin created one of his most memorable characters, Stuart Smalley, the quintessential 12-step therapy optimist whose motto was "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." Franken spun the Smalley character into a book in 1992 and a feature film, Stuart Saves His Family, in 1995.

In between stints at SNL, Franken carved out a career in the movies. In 1976, Franken starred in Tunnel Vision, an irreverent story about a typical day of programming at TV's first uncensored network. The film wasn't a big hit, but it helped launch the careers of Franken and his costars -- burgeoning comics Chevy Chase, John Candy, and Ron Silver. Franken teamed up with fellow SNL actors once again to star in the box office hit Trading Places (1983) with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. He cowrote the screenplay for the inspiring and passionate When a Man Loves a Woman (1994), and he was a guest celebrity voice in Clerks: The Animated Series (2000).

Outside of SNL, however, Franken is best known for his hilarious and engaging books, where his sense of humor is well served by his political background. When Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations was released in 1996, it quickly established Franken as the top liberal satirist of American politics. A biting attack on conservative politics, it was also critically hailed as being uncompromisingly fair. Despite seeming to single out Rush Limbaugh, the book also blasts Republican leadership on subjects ranging from family values to Vietnam draft deferment. The success of the book helped Franken launch his own sitcom, Lateline, which ran on NBC from 1998-99.

After the success of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, Franken fans were delighted when Why Not Me? The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency was released in 1999. Why Not Me? is Franken's rousing mock-epic race for the White House, detailing how he entered the 1999 presidential race (and won) on a platform condemning unfair ATM fees. In 2002, Oh! The Things I Know!: A Guide to Success, or Failing That, Happiness has Franken referring to himself as Dr. Al Franken, dispensing life-affirming lessons such as "Oh! Are You Going to Hate Your First Job" and "Oh! The Weight You Will Gain." He also served as contributing writer to Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live (2002) and wrote the foreword for the third volume of the popular Bushisms series, Still More George W. Bushisms: "Neither in French nor in English nor in Mexican."

None of Franken's books has generated as much controversy as his 2003 release, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Franken's fans waited seven years for another work of piercing political commentary, and this one more than delivered. Over the course of 43 chapters, Franken takes his battle straight to the top, criticizing the Bush administration and the scores of conservative pundits who, in his opinion, have distorted facts to support their political causes. Franken was sued by the politically conservative Fox Network for using the Fox slogan "Fair and Balanced" in the title of the book. Fox eventually dropped the case, but not before Franken got the last laugh -- he thanked the Fox Network profusely for boosting his book sales via the controversy.

Good To Know

In 1992, Franken anchored Comedy Central's Indecision '92, covering the presidential conventions and election-night events. In 1996, he teamed with Arianna Huffington, covering the party conventions and election night for Bill Maher's show Politically Incorrect.

In 1988, CNN hired Franken to provide commentary at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.

Franken served as a Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, in 2003.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 21, 1951
    1. Education:
      B.S., Political Science, Harvard University, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

God chose me to write this book.

Just the fact that you are reading this is proof not just of God's existence, but also of His/Her/Its beneficence. That's right. I am not certain of God's precise gender. But I am certain that He/She/It chose me to write this book.

This isn't hubris. I'm not saying this in an egotistical way. God didn't choose me because I'm the greatest writer who ever lived. That was William Shakespeare, whose work I have a passing familiarity with. No. I just happened to be the right vessel at the right time. If something in this book makes you laugh, it was God's joke. If something makes you think, it's because God had a good point to make.

The reason I know God chose me is because God spoke to me personally.

God began our conversation by clearing something up. Some of George W. Bush's friends say that Bush believes God called him to be president during these times of trial. But God told me that He/She/It had actually chosen Al Gore by making sure that Gore won the popular vote and, God thought, the electoral college. "THAT WORKED FOR EVERYONE ELSE," God said.

"What about Tilden?" I asked, referring to the 1876 debacle.

"QUIET!" God snapped. God was angry.

God said that after 9/11, George W. Bush squandered a unique moment of national unity. That instead of rallying the country around a program of mutual purpose and sacrifice, Bush cynically used the tragedy to solidify his political power and pursue an agenda that panders to his base and serves the interests of his corporate backers.

God told me that Bush squandered a $4.6 trillion surplus and is plunging us into deficits as far as God can see. And that Bush squandered another surplus. The surplus of goodwill from the rest of the world that he had inherited from Bill Clinton.

And this was pissing God off.

He/She/It was right. But it sounded like a lot of work.

"Look, God, I'm flattered, but I think you got the wrong guy. The kind of book you're talking about would require months of research."

And God said, "LET THERE BE GOOGLE. AND LET THERE BE LEXISNEXIS."

"Very funny, God. I use Google all the time."

"YES, I KNOW," God said. "FOR HOT ASIAN TEENS."

"You must be thinking of my son, Joe."

"AL? I'M OMNISCIENT."

"Okay, okay." I changed the subject. "It's just that I can't do this book myself."

"LEAVE THAT TO ME," God boomed.

And that's when Harvard called.

***

Harvard's Kennedy School of Government asked me to serve as a fellow at its Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. After my varied and celebrated career in television, movies, publishing, and the lucrative world of corporate speaking, being a fellow at Harvard seemed, frankly, like a step down.

I couldn't think of anything less appealing than molding the minds of tomorrow's leaders, unless it was spending fireside evenings sipping sherry with great minds at the Faculty Club. Yawn.

To my surprise and delight, though, all Harvard wanted me to do was show up every once in a while and write something about something. That gave me an idea.

"Would it be okay if I wrote a scathingly partisan attack on the rightwing media and the Bush administration?"

"No problem," Harvard said absentmindedly.

"Count me in," I replied. "From now on call me 'Professor Franken.'"

"No," Harvard said, "you're not a professor. But you can run a study group on the topic of your choosing."

"Great," I said. "I've got the perfect topic: Write My Son's Harvard College Application Essay."

"No," they said. "Harvard students already know how to write successful Harvard applications, Al. We want you to teach them something new."

Harvard was right where I wanted it. "How about if the topic is: How to Research My Book?"

"Sure," Harvard said. "Most of our professors teach that course. Why, in the Biochemistry department, most of the graduate level courses are-"

Harvard was boring me. "I gotta run, Harvard. Thanks."

***

I had my Nexis, I had my Google, I had my Harvard fellowship, and I had my fourteen research assistants. I sat down to write. Nothing.

So I got on my knees and prayed for guidance. "How, God, can I best do Your work through this book? Who, dear Lord, is the audience for a book like this? And what's a good title?"

God answered, "YOU KNOW THOSE SHITTY BOOKS BY ANN COULTER AND BERNIE GOLDBERG?"

"The best-sellers that claim there's a liberal bias in the media?" I asked.

"TOTAL BULLSHIT," God said. "START BY ATTACKING THEM. HE'S CLEARLY A DISGRUNTLED FORMER EMPLOYEE, AND SHE JUST LIES. BY THE WAY, THERE'S SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH HER."

"That's pretty obvious."

"SO GO AFTER THEM, THE WHOLE LIBERAL BIAS MYTH, AND THEN GO AFTER THE RIGHT-WING MEDIA. ESPECIALLY FOX."

"Okay, God, I'm writing this down."

"THEN USE THEM AS A JUMPING-OFF POINT TO GO AFTER BUSH. YOU KNOW, BIG TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH, SURGING UNEMPLOYMENT, IGNORING EVERYONE BUT HIS CORPORATE BUDDIES, SCREWING THE ENVIRONMENT, PISSING OFF THE REST OF THE WORLD. THAT STUFF. AND THAT'S YOUR BOOK."

"Got it. One last thing. Title."

"HOW ABOUT BEARERS OF FALSE WITNESS AND THE FALSE WITNESS THAT THEY BEAR?"

"Hmm. I, uh, I'll work with that."

Reprinted from Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them-A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right by Al Franken by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © Al Franken, Inc., 2003. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced without permission.
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Table of Contents

A Note from the Author
Introduction
1 Hummus 1
2 Ann Coulter: Nutcase 5
3 You Know Who I Don't Like? Ann Coulter 17
4 Liberals Who Hate America 21
5 Loving America the Al Franken Way 24
6 I Bitch-Slap Bernie Goldberg 28
7 The 2000 Presidential Election: How It Disproved the Hypothetical Liberal Media Paradigm Matrix 37
8 Conclusion: A Lesson Learned 51
9 Five Get-Rich-Quick Tips the Wall Street Fat Cats Don't Want You to Know 52
10 Chapter for American Book by Kharap Juta 56
11 I'm Funnier than Kharap Juta 57
12 The Chapter on Fox 58
13 Bill O'Reilly: Lying, Splotchy Bully 65
14 Hannity and Colmes 83
15 The Blame-America's-Ex-President-First Crowd 104
16 Operation Ignore 115
17 Our National Dialogue on Terrorism 123
18 Humor in Uniform 124
19 Who Created the Tone? 132
20 Did the Tone Change? 142
21 Why Did Anyone Think It Would Change? 143
22 I Grow Discouraged About the Tone 152
23 I'm Prudenized 165
24 Paul Gigot Is Unable to Defend an Incredibly Stupid Wall Street Journal Editorial 170
25 "This Was Not a Memorial to Paul Wellstone": A Case Study in Right-Wing Lies 177
26 I Attend the White House Correspondents Dinner and Annoy Karl Rove, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and the Entire Fox News Team 206
27 The Lying Years 217
28 Bush Can't Lose With Clinton's Military 220
29 Operation Chickenhawk: Episode One 226
30 Fun with Racism 252
31 I'm a Bad Liar 261
32 Thank God for Jerry Falwell 277
33 Abstinence Heroes 283
34 Abstinence Heroes II 287
35 "By Far the Vast Majority of My Tax Cuts Go to Those at the Bottom" 288
36 The Waitress and the Lawyer: A One-Act Play 304
37 The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus 313
38 I Challenge Rich Lowry to a Fight 324
39 Vast Lagoons of Pig Feces: The Bush Environmental Record 328
40 I Meet Former First Lady Barbara Bush and It Doesn't Go Well 336
41 My Personal Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction 342
42 The No Child Left Behind Standardized Test 349
43 What Is a Lie? 352
Sources and Notes 355
Meet TeamFranken 369
Acknowledgments 373
Endnotes 379
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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Al Franken

Barnes & Noble.com: This interview is taking place a little earlier than expected, due to Fox News's lawsuit against you and your book, Lies -- a lawsuit that not only failed to delay its publication, but dramatically increased its sales. How badly did Fox screw this one up?

Al Franken: Very badly. Fox News Channel chairman Roger Ailes had to know that this case was a loser from the beginning but gave in to placate an out-of-control commentator who was in an infantile rage. He clearly underestimated how foolish they'd look and the damage it would do to the network. Everything about the way they handled this thing only corroborates what I say about Fox in my book.

B&N.com: Left-wing pundit Joe Conason has suggested that Fox News should adopt a new motto, based on the judge's lawsuit in your favor: "Wholly Without Merit." What new motto would you recommend?

AF: The judge did say that it is unlikely that Fox's trademark "Fair & Balanced" is even valid. And he said their case was "wholly without merit both factually and legally." So Joe then suggested the "Wholly Without Merit" motto. I really can't beat that.

B&N.com: You had a now-legendary run-in with Bill O'Reilly earlier this year. Any chance O'Reilly will ask you onto his show to discuss your book?

AF: The event was the BookExpo in Los Angeles. Molly Ivins, Bill, and I were there to tell the booksellers about our books. I was promoting Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, and Bill was promoting his latest, Living with Herpes. Which, by the way, is very good. No, no. Actually, his book has another, even better, title.

Anyway, Bill forgot that it wasn't his show and went after me, so when it was my turn, I got up and told a story from my book that showed he was an egregious liar. Well, Bill went nuts, yelling "Shut up!" It was on C-SPAN, and someone said it was the most exciting C-SPAN since the impeachment. Anyway, Bill's tantrum eventually led to the lawsuit and to my being No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Chances that Bill will invite me on his show? I'd say small.

B&N.com: Ann Coulter's newest right-wing screed, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, is selling quite well at the moment. What's your take on her?

AF: While researching my book, I talked to a lot of conservatives. Almost to a person, when I brought up Ann Coulter, the next words out of their mouths were, "Off the record, there's something wrong with her." She is a thoroughly dishonest writer, but you should really read the two chapters about her in my book. Personally, I love my country. I will be doing my fourth USO Tour this Christmas when I go to Afghanistan and Iraq.

B&N.com: You assembled a large research team -- dubbed "TeamFranken" -- to help put your book together and to make sure you got your facts straight. Does Bill O'Reilly employ a similar team? If he did, what name would you give his team?

AF: I don't know if there is a "TeamO'Lie-lly." But if there were, I'm sure they'd all hate him.

B&N.com: O'Reilly's Fox News co-worker, Sean Hannity, also comes in for a fair amount of abuse in Liars. In your opinion, who's worse: Bill or Sean?

AF: Hard to say. They're different animals. Hannity is more the movement conservative who carries water for the cause. He lies a lot -- again, documented in my book -- but some of it might be stupidity. O'Reilly has an almost deluded self-image. He talks a lot about coming from poverty and likes to crow about his hardscrabble childhood in working-class Levittown, Long Island: "You don't come from any lower than I came from on an economic scale." In fact, he grew up comfortably middle-class in Westbury, Long Island, a completely different village than Levittown. O'Reilly, however, while clearly conservative, does not toe the party line as much as Hannity.

B&N.com: What's your favorite George W. Bush lie?

AF: I think "the trifecta." When his budget started going into deficit, Bush claimed to have said during the campaign that he would allow us to go into debt during a national emergency, a war, or a recession. "I guess I won the trifecta," he joked inappropriately and kept using the line at fundraisers. Both Tim Russert of NBC and the Washington Post found that he had never said any such thing [during the campaign]. One candidate did, however. Al Gore.

B&N.com: How complicit is the media in the right-wing lie machinery?

AF: The media has been cowed into letting the Bush administration and the right-wing media get away with this. They're so afraid of being called liberal, that they bend over backward. After 9/11, they completely lost their peckers. Read all about in my No. 1 bestseller, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.

B&N.com: Has Bush used the country's anger and sorrow over 9/11 as justification for attacking Iraq?

AF: I think there was a case for the war with Iraq that could have been made, but Bush chose to mislead the American people into believing there was an imminent threat to us and a tie to al-Qaeda. If we continue to get mired down there, Americans are going to be a lot less forgiving than if he had been honest with us.

B&N.com: Is it true you had a run-in with Karl Rove at this year's White House Correspondents Dinner?

AF: I didn't have a run-in with Rove. We jibed each other a little. That doesn't mean I don't hate everything he stands for.

B&N.com: Do any of the current Democratic candidates for president excite you? Who would you like to see run, ideally?

AF: They all excite me. Actually, I think Bush can be beaten, and a number of these guys could do it. I think all of the top-tier candidates would make good presidents. I'd love to see Bill Clinton be able to run again, however. He'd squash Dubya. Actually, I had a plan to get around the 22nd Amendment. I run for president, Clinton for vice president, and as soon as I'm sworn in, I resign -- Clinton's president. It works. Read the amendment.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2006

    Funny

    I laughed through the whole book. This book really shows how funny people in government and Bill O'Liely (O'Reilly)can be. Al shows us (in a funny way)how people lie. This book reminded me of the shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, which are very funny. It is fun to laugh at how people lie. Then, again, it is not very funny. We all lie to some extent and what is so funny about that? I think it is sad that people have to lie to the nation or people on national TV lie. It is better to laugh then to get mad. This country is not perfect and Al Franken is trying to show us, in a funny way. He is trying to tell us that not everyone is being truthful to us and not to accept things at face value. Does Bill O'Reilly have facts to back up everything he says? Do the people in government have proof to back up everything they say? All Al was trying to get across is to get people to wake up, don't believe everything you hear or read. All I know is this book made me laugh and we need more laughter. If you do not like it, do not read it. I tell everyone I know to read this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2006

    Not worth the paper

    I read this book and I have to say, Wow! this book is really full of it! Makes you wonder how the Republicans keep getting elected of they are as bad as Al tries to make them out to be. The retort from the left is predictable: people in general are stupid and the populace needs the liberals to tell them what to do. The fact is, conservative's message resonates with voters and libs offer no fresh ideas. They don't even offer ideas at all! Just wrath-like this book. Al should stick to what he is good at, telling jokes.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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