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Treasonous Liars 

The left vs. right battle for the best-seller's list rages on.

The left re-took the top of the book world heap last week when Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country? reached the summit, the No. 1 ranking in The New York Times best-sellers list. (Personally, I can't imagine Michael Moore climbing to the top of anything, unless if maybe the entrance to HomeTown Buffet had a slight incline.)

Does anybody else have a problem watching Michael Moore walk around in his documentaries? Dude, you're a multi-millionaire; get your legs fixed. If you stood to the left of a bow-legged person, you guys would spell "ox." You might be in casts for a few months, but at least we wouldn't have to watch you move around like that. And don't even think about running! Charlton Heston outran you in Bowling for Columbine and he É well, you know.

It's been a real seesaw battle this year. First, there was the "book" from scuzzoid Ann Coulter, who captures perfectly the essence of the modern right by managing to be simultaneously smug and stupid. She did a lap dance on the fetid and rotting corpse of Joe McCarthy and called Democrats and other free thinkers traitors. It made me proud to be an American.

Coulter has become wealthy by showing up on every show on every cable channel available in the United States. I think I saw her the other day on The Food Channel sharing her recipes for bulimics. ("Tastes as good coming back up as it did going down.")

I actually did see her on MSNBC debating Comedy Central's Lewis Black on high school dress codes. Black, who is hilarious, basically doesn't believe in any dress codes whatsoever, while Coulter, who dresses like Nancy Sinatra circa 1966, was sorta for them, but not completely.

Al Franken grabbed the No. 1 spot a couple months back with Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, a giddy send-up of the buffoons who tell whoppers and then don't own up to them. This follows his runaway best seller, Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot, an entire book devoted just to the lies the hypocritical junkie used to tell back when he was on his own radio show.

(Oh yeah, all you people who gush about how brave Limbaugh is for admitting his addiction: Do you really think he would have said anything if he hadn't been busted by the National Enquirer? He'd still be out there, blasting away at drug addicts who happen to be poor, and then popping illegal pills himself at the rate of two every hour. Y'all need to get up off your knees.)

There are a lot of people out there who despise Al Franken. I don't understand that, really. He's a pretty funny guy, educated, intelligent. Al Franken may be the only political writer in history who can say that he's had a No. 1 best seller and been in a movie where Bo Diddley recites the classic line, "In Philadelphia, it's worth 50 bucks." Plus, Franken, unlike a lot of these other weasels, actually spends time on USO tours, entertaining U.S. troops overseas.

Some choose to dismiss Franken's book because it's only about lying and subterfuge. It's not sexy or written for the dim-witted, who need stronger words like "treason" to get them to open a book. Both Coulter and the vile Michael Savage (whose virtually unreadable book, The Savage Nation, was on the best-sellers list for about a day and a half) throw that word "treason" around with shocking regularity and infuriating impunity.

Unlike the phony treason charges, the lying that Franken writes about is at least real. In the scattershot world of talk radio and soundbite TV, people are bound to make mistakes. Dates, facts, figures--it's guaranteed to happen. But when Sean Hannity or one of his homies get caught either telling a lie or making a mistake, they stonewall and bluster instead of just saying, "Oops, I screwed up." Do they not realize how far a simple acknowledgement of having made a mistake would take them in the public arena?

Franken was aided greatly by the Fox News Network, who foolishly filed suit, claiming that it owned the rights to the phrase "fair and balanced." After the laughter died down, a judge threw the suit out of court, and the end result was that Fox added a couple hundred thousand to Franken's sales totals. The judge did, however, rule that Fox could keep the rights to the phrase, "We distort, you deride."

The aforementioned Sean Hannity, who specializes in revisionist history of the Ronald Reagan era (Hannity believes that the runaway deficits of the Reagan years were somehow caused by the fact that Bill Clinton was going to be president in the following decade), had a best seller called É well, I'm not sure what it's called, but it probably has the word "freedom," liberty" or "buzzword" in the title.

Hannity's flash-in-the-pan success (I think the book was a brief best seller because all of the Scientologists--mistakenly believing that L. Ron Hubbard was both alive and writing under a pseudonym--went out and bought multiple copies each) was followed closely by Bill O'Reilly's Who's Looking Out for You?

O'Reilly, who claims to be an independent even though his (Republican) voter registration form has been published in several books and newspapers, might be the worst of all, and that's saying something. What I do know is that the shouters on both sides have taken over the discussion, and the quiet, introspective ones who don't speak in soundbites, but may well have something valuable to offer, have been drowned out for the time being.

Someone once said that nothing in America lasts more than 10 years. Perhaps this, too, shall pass.

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