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I predict Al Franken will be president in 2016.
First, in 2008, the same year the Democrats take back the White House, he’ll run for – and win – the Minnesota’s Senate seat. Then he’ll propose and mastermind a successful “quickie impeachment” of George W. Bush during the brief “lame duck” period in January 2009. In 2012, after a smashing first term in which the Democratic Congress enacts universal health care, fixes the No Child Left Behind Act, forwards stem cell and space research and ends America’s dependence on fossil fuels, among other progressive triumphs, the Democratic president will win a second term. In 2016, it’ll be Franken’s turn.
The whole plan is outlined in his new book, “The Truth (With Jokes).” Well, not the whole plan. I inserted the part where Franken becomes president.
But a girl can dream, and in a Franken administration surely there would be a place for Bill Maher, whose “New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer,” is out now by Rodale Books.
Both Maher and Franken offer liberal elixir in this often-terrifying life under the Bush Regime. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn something.
Franken’s “The Truth (With Jokes)” follows the success of 2003’s “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,” in which Franken revealed the many untruths of right-wing pundits like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity.
In “The Truth” Franken aims his satirical guns higher: straight at the heart of the White House. He begins with the 2004 election and outlines how Bush beat Kerry using what Franken calls “the Three Horsemen of the Republican Apocalypse: Fear, Smears, and Queers.”
September 11, 2001 was, according to Franken, Bush’s “little black dress,” which he used to scare Americans every chance he got. Franken writes that Bush “could slip it on for any occasion. Bush put on his little black dress to accuse Senate Democrats of not being sufficiently patriotic, to unravel Americans’ civil liberties, to make the case for drilling in ANWR, and even as an excuse not to allow prescription drugs to be reimported from Canada.”
Bush also reaped the rewards from the infamous “Swift Boat Veterans” smear campaign against Kerry, which Franken shows was a pack of lies with ties to the White House.
The Bush campaign also prospered handsomely from stirring up anti-gay sentiment across the country, stepping on the necks of gays and lesbians on their way to a shady victory. Franken, who thinks marriage equality should be a no-brainer, devotes a whole chapter to the crafty little ways Republicans used religion and homophobia to divide America. From sending a flyer claiming that a Kerry win would mean banned Bibles and mandatory gay marriage, to posing as San Francisco gay activists holding signs reading, “Support Gay Adoption: Kerry-Edwards,” Republicans milked the queer issue good.
“For the religious right, gay marriage wasn’t about marriage,” Franken writes. “It was about gay.” Anti-gay marriage activists believe being gay is abnormal and sinful, Franken points out, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Franken writes, “Did anyone in the White House leadership actually agree with the [Family Research Council’s] perverted view of homosexuality, and disagree with the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics? I really doubt it. But that didn’t stop them from throwing bone after bone to the bone-craving Christian activists pushing anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives in eleven states.”
Franken rejects Bush’s claim of a mandate and uses the “great political issue” (so said Republicans) of Terri Schiavo and the quest to undermine Social Security to prove just how out of touch Bush and his right-wing cronies are with the American people.
“The Truth (With Jokes)” is heavier on truth than jokes as Franken moves further from comedy into politics (he’s serious about running in 2008, though he claims he won’t make the decision until 2007). But Franken knows his stuff, and given the grim nature of the truth he serves up in this book, it’s a wonder he’s able to make any jokes at all.
But if we don’t laugh, we cry – and right now liberals need all the laughter we can get.
Which is where Bill Maher’s “New Rules” comes in. Where Franken uses facts, Maher just gives us his honest, often politically incorrect opinion. Maher is not a man who is afraid to say what he thinks. About anything. Maher takes a popular segment of his HBO television show “Real Time With Bill Maher” and puts it to paper with “New Rules.” The translation is laugh-out-loud successful. “New Rules” skews politics and Bush but it also touches on other staples of American life: food, sex, drugs and Paris Hilton.
“Don’t try to talk to me about ‘Desperate Housewives,'” Maher writes. “If I had the slightest interest in other people’s sex lives, I’d be a Republican.”
But the book isn’t just a list of jokes. Maher throws in some heftier (okay, two pages max, but still) musings about everything from abstinence-only education to high gas prices to pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for moral reasons. He also writes the best essay on the “marriage wars” that I have ever read, and he gives bitch slaps to both Republicans and Democrats.
“You can’t claim you’re the party of smaller government and then make laws about love,” he writes.
However, Maher points out that the religious right is at least up front about what they believe.
“The greater shame in this story goes to the Democrats,” he writes. “They don’t believe homosexuality is an abomination, and therefore their refusal to endorse gay marriage is hypocrisy. Their position doesn’t come from the Bible; it’s ripped right from the latest poll…”
Which reminds us that Democrats will not save us in party name alone. We need forward-thinking candidates ready to stand up and do what is right, not just what is comfortable or in the interest of big business and the religious right, regardless of party affiliation.
But can you blame me for holding out for a Franken administration? Let’s just hope Franken’s dream of a Democratic majority comes true, only that these “Dems of the Future” come equipped with spines and the Republicans of the future complete a corruption detox program.