Foul...vile, unfunny...mindless tripe." Whatever possessed Al Franken? The epithets, he would have us believe, are from former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick's New York Times "review" of this book, an appraisal that Franken offers uncut in chapter one. But, given that this is a collection of stridently liberal essays, even the most gullible reader would doubt the Times' choice of the arch-conservative Kirkpatrick to critique it. (Franken's own protest: How dare they assign a former lover to review his work?)
Readers familiar with the Saturday Night Live comedian will of course dismiss the Times "review" and followup "letters" as hoaxes concocted in a near-lunatic desire to amuse. The rest of the bestselling book is far less innocent, its tone fairly suggested by the incivility of its title.
Franken baits not only Rush Limbaugh but other conservative icons as well. Those readers made uneasy by the Kirkpatrick prank may also question the accuracy of his reportage. Did Limbaugh really show pictures of Socks and Chelsea Clinton on TV, referring to them as the White House cat and the "White House dog"? Was Newt Gingrich really taken to court by his cancer-stricken ex-wife for failing to support her and their kids? Did Phil Gramm, deploring food stamps, really say "all our poor people are fat"?
Readers will have no doubt about the inaccuracy of Franken's four-page index. The entries, devoted entirely to Limbaugh's girth, eating habits and sex life, in no way reflect the content of the pages cited. All in all, this is a most peculiar book—overwritten, intemperate, gratuitously vulgar. And—yes—often very—funny. (Delacorte, $21.95)