Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations

by Al Franken


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440508649
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/1999
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 810,193
Product dimensions: 5.53(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Al Franken is the author of I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me! and Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot. He currently serves on the United States Senate as the senator from Minnesota.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

May 21, 1951


B.S., Political Science, Harvard University, 1973

Read an Excerpt

Book Review

January 7, 1996

By Al Franken
288 pp. Delacorte Press:

by Jeane Kirkpatrick

IT REMAINS a mystery why the New York Times would ask me to review this dreadfully foul little book. I am an expert on geopolitical strategic paradigms, not on the sort of cheap, mindless mockery that seems to be Mr. Franken's forte. It is almost as if this were the result of some awful mistake by the Times. Why, for example, would humorist P. J. O'Rourke be assigned this very same week to review Nigel Hodgeson's wonderful tome The Falkland Islands War--Six Hundred Years in the Making? Is it possible that because O'Rourke and I have the same agent, some simple mix-up occurred? Perhaps P.J., our agent, or I should have tried to sort this out. But I have simply been too busy trying to slog through this repugnant collection of vile, unfunny essays.

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations is not just unfunny. It is confused. While Mr. Franken decries "the loss of civility in public discourse," he himself is a most egregious offender, not just calling Rush Limbaugh "a big fat idiot," but Newt Gingrich "a big fat jerk," and House majority leader Richard Armey "a big dick."

Mr. Franken seems to want to have it both ways, criticizing Limbaugh for "demonizing" those who disagree with him, but all the while attacking his enemies with invective and scurrilous assertions that remain totally unproven. For example, nowhere in the 288-page screed does Franken actually show any real evidence that Limbaugh is indeedfat. There is not one footnoted reference concerning Limbaugh's body weight, and Mr. Franken seems to be relying on sheer guesswork. Indeed, on page 45, he refers to Limbaugh as "a three-hundred pound blimp," while on page 117, he refers to a "size-78 suit squeezing Rush's some six-hundred pound frame like so much sausage casing." Which is it? Three hundred or six hundred?

One begins to wonder if Franken isn't just inventing things out of whole cloth. After a careful reread of The Bell Curve, nowhere in its 800-plus pages did I find Murray and Herrnstein refer to jazz as "the music created by morons." And similarly, Newt Gingrich's Contract with America did not "promise to make it easier to sue for divorce a spouse with cancer."

Occasionally Mr. Franken does succeed to amuse. When discussing the Senate Banking Committee's Whitewater investigation, he writes, "Having Al D'Amato lead an ethics investigation is like asking Bob Dornan to head up a mental health task force." I must admit that one made me chortle; Bob Dornan is dangerously unstable. Yet only thirty-seven pages later Mr. Franken, for all intents and purposes, repeats the joke. "Having Al D'Amato lead an ethics investigation is like asking Ross Perot [my emphasis] to head up a mental health task force." Again, funny. But which is it? Bob Dornan or Ross Perot?

As one labors through Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations one quickly concludes that Mr. Franken chose the title simply as a craven device to attract readers. Yes, the book's opening essay is "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot." But in it Mr. Franken negates the whole premise of his book, when in referring to Limbaugh's enormous success, he writes: "All right. I guess Limbaugh is not an idiot. But you have to admit, he's big and fat."

In fact, one of the author's goals seems to be to draw Limbaugh into some kind of public feud, as if that would enhance the sales of his book. Calling Limbaugh "a fat bully" who is "too scared to engage in open debate with anyone other than pre-screened callers," Franken gratuitously taunts the talk radio host: "Limbaugh is able to attack women and keep the audience's sympathy for one reason and one reason only. He is clearly a sad, fat loser wounded by a pathetic history with the opposite sex." Again, Franken offers no proof, other than to cite that Limbaugh met his third, and current, wife on CompuServe.

Will Limbaugh rise to the bait? Franken seems to hope so, writing on page 187, "I hope he rises to the bait." Even so, Franken admits that Limbaugh would probably prevail in a one-on-one encounter. Franken, who insists that Bill Clinton is "by far" our best post-war President, admits to being a part of "the fuzzy-headed liberal middle" and that mano-a-mano he would be no match for Limbaugh's clearheaded, "well thought out," right-wing doctrine. "Besides, I'm a comedian," is his weak defense. Franken's plan, as revealed in his chapter "I Have Smart Friends," is to lure Limbaugh into a live debate on ABC's Nightline, then act sick, getting Michael Kinsley to fill in for him at the last second.

As reprehensible as I found this strategem [my word], I was even more appalled by the flippant, smart-alecky tone of the non-Limbaugh chapters, including one entitled "If Abortions Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Abortions." My goodness. If this is the kind of mindless tripe that passes for political satire these days, I fear for this nation!


He Said, She Said

To the Editor:

It was with great horror that I picked up Sunday's Times to see that you had assigned Jeane Kirkpatrick to review my book, "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations" (January 7). It had been my understanding that in the interest of objectivity your paper has had a long-standing policy of not assigning an author's former lover to review his book. As anyone who was familiar with the Manhattan eighties' club scene knows, Ms. Kirkpatrick and I endured a somewhat stormy and all too public affair during her tenure as our country's U.N. Ambassador. Even then Ms. Kirkpatrick, though my lover, had no discernible sense of humor. In fact, a primary cause of our breakup was her almost obdurate unwillingness to understand irony, an unwillingness which is woefully apparent in her uncomprehending review of my very funny book. Come on! Be fair. Next time get someone who isn't my former lover to review my book!

New York

Ambassador Kirkpatrick replies:

I don't know what this horrible, horrible man is talking about. During the time that I served as ambassador to the United Nations I was far too busy defending the people of America, including (unfortunately) Mr. Franken, against the dark forces of Soviet Communism to cheat on my husband, let alone "go clubbing" (my phrase) as Mr. Franken suggests. After careful examination of my appointment calendars from that period, I admit that I did on one occasion step foot inside Studio 54, but I can assure you that once I saw what was going on in that place, I quickly turned on my heel and left. I can assure you as well that Mr. Franken will be hearing from my attorney, as will the New York Times. How on earth the Times could print his letter and take part in this abhorrent calumny is beyond me.

The editors reply:

It is our policy to allow authors to respond to reviews in the manner they see fit. Since Mr. Franken's claim of an affair between Ms. Kirkpatrick and himself comes down to a matter of "he-said, she-said," we felt the Ambassador's denial was insufficient to prevent us from printing his response. We did, however, edit Mr. Franken's letter, omitting a number of gratuitously lurid descriptions which were entirely irrelevant to his complaint. And, yes, it is our policy not to allow a former lover to review an author's book. Our apologies to Mr. Franken.

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Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
mellonhead on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I read this a long time ago, but I remember thinking how impressed I was with his facts and figures (although I am always skeptical). It was funny and frightening at the same time. I would recommend this book to any open-minded individual.
EdKupfer on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Not just a one-title joke, there's actually quite a bit of meat in this book, which only drags occasionally. Dated horribly by now as his subjects have gone on to parody themselves far more than Franken ever did, this is still a good book to pick up used for a couple of bucks if only for the still hilarious index.
ck2935 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book is hilarious. it is also sad in the sense of how polarized our political scene is becoming.
doowatt34 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Al Franken is dead on hilarious with his funny satire of public figures, politicians and their syncophants. He is so right to poke fun at the ignorant fodder thats spewed out every day on some media outlet.
rcgibson on LibraryThing 3 months ago
A satirical look at conservative political figures like Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Pat Buchanan.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Would be really funny as a couple of articles but very repedititve as a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They teach in biology classes that the name of our species is "homo sapiens". That may be an apt designation for those representatives of the human race who listen to facts and reason, are constantly trying to improve their knowledge of the world in multi-faceted ways, are open to the enjoyment of the arts and feel an instinct to help the less fortunate. However, there is also a subspecies that is diametrically different from the above-described specimen. It embodies all the worst mental and emotional characteristics of humans, and some scientists believe that their world view and behavior might be influenced by their defective genetic material, which forcrs them to be in a state of constant fear and loathing of the "other". A more fitting name for this subspecies would be "homo brutus stupidus", and it is about suchbiological category that Al Franken masterfully writes in his book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Franken combines humor with facts--a fantastic read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am neither Republican nor Democrat, neither conservative nor liberal. This book is much less serious than Al's new book, Lies. I am also big and fat, but I am not offended by Al's humor, because I'm not an idiot!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It gives Limbaugh and some of the other right wing types a little of their own medicine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has had a profound impact on what I read. I have always been a fan of Frankin's, but this book shows his full potential, and it does not disappoint.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really enjoyed this book as well as all of al franken's books. it is refreshing!!! maybe the negative reviewers should learn correct grammar and spelling then go on to read books. maybe their deficiencies inhibits then from reading good books!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been waiting for a book such as this one. He hits the mark right on with most of his observations, especially when he talks about Rush Limbaugh. It amazes me when I actually hear people talk as if they believe everything Limbaugh says, it kind of is my way of measuring their intelligence and gullibility. Al has a very high IQ. :) Keep on trucking Al.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I do not agree with all of Mr. Franken's views, I found this book to be extremely hilarious. Those who do not like it probably do not understand irony. Read any of Mr. Limbaugh's books and one will find that liberals are pure evil, hell-bent on destroying this earth and giving what the few undeservedly have to the many, who are too stupid to possess rich people's materials, and, in fact are lucky to have anything at all. Interestingly, he took from the few rich people while he was unemployed. Democrats have their flaws as well, as Mr. Franken showed in his book, i.e. 'Bill Clinton: The Best Post-War President.' Anyway, good, fun read, just have an open mind when you start the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
People at my favorite message boards know me as Coyotte88. I read the book. I thought it was good but Flanken should have just stuck to Limbaugh. Most of the book is about Rush and his hypocracy and is worth reading. I hope Al gives us a sequel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As ashamed as I am to admit it, Al has done an excellent job exposing me and my blatant stupidity. It is painful to admit as I read this how many of my past sins have come back to haunt me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
just a seriously good book. funny AND infomative. If it doesn't crack you up, you gotta get away from the Rush Limbaugh show, you're taking THAT too seriously.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just read the published reviews above and elsewhere to see why this book spent months on the bestseller lists. Franken gleefully exposes the hypocrisies of the right-wing and several of its members in an ironic and refreshingly un-politically correct manner. His acute observations disguised as political satire raise issues that most political analysts (and US citizens) have been too timid to acknowledge and explore.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Will the big fat idiot accept the challenge of a debate at the steakhouse of his choice? He hasn't yet and probably never will. Good old Al did alot of homework for this book and hits the nail on the fathead. Find out how long Rush was on welfare, how he picks up chicks, and see a chart of how fat he's been getting over the years. There is plenty of material in '...Big Fat Idiot' about other conservatives and political personalities as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When it comes to Saterday Night Live, Al does a wonderful job with the comedy. When it comes to reality, he seems to miss the point, actually he is not even close. Everyone he mentioned in his book has happened upon much more fame then he could ever dream of, including Mr. Rush Limbaugh. This is the kind of book that would go completely unnoticed if it was not for the title. Al owes the sucess (or lack of) of his book to the one and only Rush Limbaugh. Instead of bashing Rush, he should be thanking him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This 'book' is the worst sort of drivel. I read through this book expecting a good laugh and ended up disgusted by its idiocy. Facts seem to have no place in this 'work.' As far as humor goes, everyone knows that Saturday Night Live hasn't been worth watching for years anyhow.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is another attempt to save a career gone bad and a man with no facts. So you just put Limbaugh's name in the title and sold some outdated 'humor' and at the same time attacked those for which you have no answers for/to. Get some facts and get a better co-host for your lame show Franken. Better yet try hosting the show on your own just like Rush does or do you have the balls or the talent to do so? Didn't think so. Have a good career lamo. Personal attacker with no facts.