Comfortable and Furious



It doesn’t take much to expose the right-wing hypocrites that currently dominate our culture as lying frauds, but in Al Franken’s delightfully vicious new book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, it all seems much too easy. It doesn’t require a sophisticated code, or even deep investigation, but rather only a second look at the words that fly by on the screen and the page. Franken, as with all of us, does not need to make anything up, or speculate, or make ridiculous leaps into the unknown. Instead, he merely needs to present the claims of people like Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly and demonstrate exactly how they have concealed, misquoted, misrepresented–or in plain English–just lied their asses off. These people — along with fish wrap like the New York Post or the Washington Times — are remarkably good at what they do and what’s more, they know exactly what it takes to confuse, deceive, and manipulate the American people into believing what is patently false. Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to throw the average American’s mind into a tailspin of disarray, but when you have professionals such as these Fox hounds and their ilk, it is easy to see why George W. Bush continues to have high approval ratings. Or why most Americans believe Iraq was responsible for 9/11. People are not paying attention (or don’t want to, what with X-Box or the fifteenth installment of American Idol as competition) and Al Franken is one of the first to say so with wit, charm, and a healthy dose of cynical bite. He’s pissed at these unscrupulous bastards (and bitches), and after a read like this, we should feel the same. I would like to believe that these people lie just for the sake of career ambitions, but like Franken, I believe that they are pushing a radical agenda that no one outside of John Ashcroft’s immediate family would enjoy.

Franken devotes several entire chapters to Coulter’s Grade A brand of bullshit, which is at it should be. Few are as blatant in their contempt for the truth, and Franken (as we would expect) documents the entire thing. Whether Ann is bemoaning the “politics of personal destruction” and negative tone in D.C. while simultaneously calling rival politicians half-wits, airheads, birdbrains, and boobs, or insisting that a drunken demagogue like Joseph McCarthy was a hero rivaled only by Christ, she is an easy person to hate. Think of her claim that ALL liberals (again, she says all) are traitors. Franken then has a “discussion” with liberal Democrat John Glenn about his military heroism, space flights, and dedicated service to the country and wonders how this man — pro-choice, pro-Medicare, pro-Social Security, and recipient of five Distinguished Flying Crosses — could be such a bastard as to hate his country with such a passion. Or Harry Truman.?Or JFK……Or George Marshall……There are plenty of names that qualify as liberal (or even moderate) who were Democrats and worked for progressive causes, yet Coulter dismisses them all as venomous slime worthy only, I guess, of the gas chamber.

But it’s far better when Franken points out the blatant lies of Coulter’s prose. In Treason, Coulter bashed the New York Times as elitist and snooty because it ignored Dale Earnhardt’s death at Daytona. The times completely and callously ignored it, the blond cunt states. Franken provides a handy copy of the Times’ front page the day after Earnhardt’s death. Guess what? There’s the headline: “Stock Car Star Killed on Last Lap of Daytona 500.” Now I’d agree with ignoring that piece of white trash’s silly death myself, but the point is, Coulter lied. Why? Because she wants to paint a picture of left-wing snobbery that is out of touch with Middle America. “Liberals hate the common folk,” she would argue, and there’s glaring evidence of that fact. They don’t care about a hero to millions! Lie number one (of many; so many that I’ll have to cut it short for the sake of space). Coulter also said that Newsweek Washington bureau chief Evan Thomas was the son of Socialist Norman Thomas. Why? I’m guessing because she feels Newsweek is a liberal magazine and she wants to smear Thomas. Needless to say, Evan is not Norman’s son. But you could have guessed that. Coulter also lies with her footnotes, making it seem as if she is writing a scholarly text, when all she does is make it look as if she has more sources than she actually does. More than that, as Franken says, she uses footnotes rather than endnotes because she knows no one will bother to read the footnotes at the end of the book. Make them endnotes and we’d realize the game she is playing. Coulter also plays fast and loose with quotes to make people “say” things that they never did, or confuse us into thinking that a particular quote came from a particular source when in fact it did not. Once you are done with the Coulter chapters, you will realize that only someone deeply immersed in a professional lifestyle of mendacity would go to these lengths to cover her tracks. But if she told the truth and represented sources fairly, she’d have no book. Hell, she’d have no reason to exist.

Franken also recounts his public dismantling of Bernard Goldberg (the author of Bias) on the Donahue program when he forced Bernie to look at his distorted quotes. After reading that section it becomes obvious that Goldberg is nothing more than a disgruntled ex-employee of CBS. Moreover, we come to see (as with Coulter) how LexisNexis is only as accurate as the person who is using it. Franken also presents the Hannity and Colmes program, where he reduces Colmes to a miniscule font because of Colmes’ presence as a weak-willed pussy in the face of Hannity’s right-wing juggernaut. Trust me on this: example after example is given as to why Hannity is arguably the least honest man on prime time television. He is what Ambrose Bierce referred to in his Devil’s Dictionary as “positive” — mistaken at the top of one’s voice. He is a bullshit artist with a $200 haircut and an ego to match. Even when presented with evidence of error (deliberate or not), he simply cannot admit that he has strayed from his path of righteousness. The best example of such lies comes when Franken excerpts Hannity’s Let Freedom Ring and a table (Hannity seems obsessed with tables, probably for the same reason Coulter loves her footnotes) that purports to show how Reagan is not at all responsible for the choking debt of the 1980s. I’m not a math man and would probably be fooled myself (and that is the only time I’ll admit to such fallibility), but trust me on this, Franken demonstrates that there is nothing so insidious as lying with numbers, mainly because so many are apt to believe anything merely because you throw a chart in their face. But for Hannity, the myth of Reagan’s innocence must survive. The record shows that Reagan never submitted a balanced budget in his entire eight years, yet Hannity wants you to believe that liberal Democrats forced him to take this country into the toilet. It is no different than the Bushies continuing to say that if anything bad ever happens on our shores, we can and should point to Clinton. I imagine Republicans will still be using the Clinton card well into the next century. Hell, they still haven’t let go of FDR. [Ed Note: Any “honest” conservative worth their salt would be proud of the fact that Reagan actually spent the Soviet Union to death. By running up (at the time-Bush Jr. is way ahead) the biggest cumulative deficit in our nation’s history, Ronnie killed the Evil Empire.]

Copyright Infringement Anyone?

Franken’s book also contains wonderful chapters on how Clinton really did fight terror, how Bush and his Klan (did I use a “K” there?) ignored it right up to the minute that the Towers fell (and some would argue continues to ignore it since he insists that Iraq is responsible), and how the Right has no business claiming to be the party of the military since they continually cut veteran’s benefits and soldiers’ pay. There’s also a vintage Franken chapter about how he tried to fool the people at Bob Jones University into thinking he was a concerned father who wanted his son to attend the school (he almost got away with it, and would have had all those kids not asked for autographs during his campus visit), and another chapter that is written as a comic book entitled “The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus.” There’s also a one-act play called “The Waitress and the Lawyer” that pokes fun at the Bush tax cut, and a hilarious recounting of a plane ride he once shared with the ball-breaking (and unmistakably bitchy) Barbara Bush. In all, Franken never loses his sense of humor, although he is wonderfully mean when he needs to be. Right-wing liars (to quote Twain in a similar context, “I repeat myself”) need to be held accountable and discarded once and for all. Franken even has the decency to admit up front that he had a dozen researchers who helped him with the book, and goes so far as to put their pictures and brief bios in the back. He does this to be kind, but more so to shame those (most pundits and cultural commentators) who insist that they toil in isolation on their brilliant tomes.

Now that I’ve read Franken’s timely and necessary book, I am grateful that Fox saw fit to sue him for using the phrase “fair and balanced” on the cover. That Franken’s book is number one on nearly every bestseller list must give O’Reilly fits, but it also means that Franken will continue to write and hopefully change a few minds along the way. Of course we’ve always had liars and yes, both parties are full of them, but when Bush believes he was picked by God and the Attorney General is more offended by a female breast than genocide, it is much more fun to pick on the self-righteous pricks who currently run this circus. And since Fox and all those blond sluts are serving Bush and seem to share talking points (if not scripts for life itself), it makes sense to hit as hard as possible to wake the rest of us from our apathetic slumber. O’Reilly is a blowhard and a bully. Coulter is an anorexic psychopath cunt. Hannity is a simpleminded dipshit. These may be “personal attacks,” as Coulter would call them, but they also happen to be true. Read their words, then check the facts. You too will agree with Franken’s assessment.

Other Ruthless, Bloviated, Treasonous, Left-Wing Rants: