Book Review: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

I never liked that Stuart Smalley character Al Franken played on Saturday Night Live. That shit was just stupid, and not at all funny.

But Al Franken’s generally a very funny guy, and his latest book is testament to his inherent sense of humor. My friend, Joe D., let me borrow it for my trip to Tampa.

The basic premise is this: Take what people “on the right” have said over the past couple of years, and beat them about the head and neck with “the truth”. Or, at least, properly researched statistics.

For example, Incumbent Republican Joe Schmoe said on TV that, “78% of single-parent aliens from a galaxy far, far away are on welfare” or some other platform-bolstering stat or rationalization. Al Franken (and his crack team of Harvard fact-checkers) take the opportunity to show that, in fact, aliens from that far away galaxy don’t actually exist (they really come from Mexico)… but even if they did, the right number would be somewhere around 23%.

The “Lies” that these “Lying Liars” are telling, or at least the ones that Franken chooses to address, fall into two main categories: 1) Someone didn’t do their homework for whatever reason, or 2) Someone made some shit up, pulled something out of their ass, or just blatantly lied like a motherfucker. And Franken takes oozingly great pleasure at laying the smack down.

Sometimes too much pleasure. In a couple of places, he writes about ideas or plans he has to be funny or to embarrass people he doesn’t agree with. In those rare instances, his motivation is misplaced, and he’s just being mean or vindictive or taking shit too personally… and goes too far.

But, on the whole, the book tries to be objective in refuting Bush Posse Media Machine bullshit, and Franken’s wit shines throughout. If you read it, tell me that Elton John joke isn’t fucking hilarious.

Plus, he dresses down that crazy fascist bitch, Ann Coulter, on multiple occasions. That in itself is worth the cost of the book.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

  1. Polling people for these numbers is a kind of sociological practice. One of the first things you learn (literally!) is any time an experiment produces wildly divergent results, you have to suspect both sides. If the first side did things right, then the results should be more or less similar. But, if the second side goes and uses an entirely new testing methodology, a totally new experimental approach, then they’re not invalidating the results of the first experimenter. If their methodology used is so wildly divergent, then it’s a brand new experiment!

    In short, I think both sides have an ideological agenda.

  2. The simple beauty of “Lies and the Lying Liars etc.,” is that the vast majority of the book isn’t about polling, which I agree, is malleable. It’s about facts. Like, what is Bill O’Reilly’s hometown? Where he says it is, or where his mother says it is? Hint: one is consistent with his “I grew up in the school of hard knocks” schtick and one is the truth (“I grew up in upper middle class suburbia, complete with summer vacations”). And yes, Gary — the Elton John joke is fucking hilarious! This book should be required reading for everyone who votes.

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