The following is from Bernard Goldberg’s book 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is #37) (2005/6):


Al Franken says he’s a satirist, by which he means he can say nasty things about anyone he wants and then claim it’s all in good fun.

Small world. I’m a satirist, too.

Not long ago, I sat down with Al Franken for a one-on-one interview about his life and career. We spoke, appropriately enough, in his radio studio in New York City, where he hosts the Al Franken Show on Air America, which is a liberal talk radio network that is carried in several cities. [Note: This was 2005, so Air America was still breathing (barely), and Minnesotans hadn’t yet taken leave of their senses and made Franken a Senator.]

Al Franken at liberal mic

GOLDBERG: Hi, Al, and thanks for letting me come in and have this chat with you today.
FRANKEN: You’re a liar.
GOLDBERG: What do you mean I’m a liar?
FRANKEN: I never said you were a liar, you liar. You’re telling lies about me lying about you lying. That’s a lie.
GOLDBERG: Okay. But before we actually begin, I need to apologize.
FRANKEN: For what?
GOLDBERG: For listing you all the way down at number thirty-seven [in my book]. When I started this project, before you went on the air here at Air America. I had you in the top five of all the people who are screwing up America. But I’m afraid that after the [2004] presidential election, when it became clear that lefties like you probably hurt Kerry more than they helped him, and that you were becoming more and more irrelevant politically, I had to drop you all the way down to thirty-seven, and if we did this interview next week, you might be number seventy-three.
FRANKEN: You’re a big fat idiot.
GOLDBERG: Excuse me?
GOLDBERG: Al. Someone once said that liberals have forgotten how to be liberal, meaning they’re no longer open-minded. They think the other side is not just wrong, but morally repugnant. Any thoughts?
FRANKEN: Yes, I think you’re a big fat idiot.
GOLDBERG: You just said that!
FRANKEN: No I didn’t.
GOLDBERG: Let’s move on. You’ve had quite a career: Saturday Night Live, movies, politics, and now your own radio show. What motivates you?
FRANKEN: Well, Bernie, as I’m sure you know, I’m good enough, smart enough, and, doggone it, people like me. That’s what motivates me. Knowing how good enough and smart enough I am. And I think, if you send off positive vibes, as I do, people will like you, which is why they like me. I also have lots of self-esteem, which is good. And most of all, I’m not negative.
GOLDBERG: What do you think of conservatives?
FRANKEN: I think they’re all a bunch of motherf***ing, Nazi as*****s who should drink poison and die.
GOLDBERG: How does angry talk like that, which we hear a lot from liberals these days, jibe with your insistence that you’re not negative? I don’t get it.
FRANKEN: That’s because you didn’t go to Harvard and I did. Harvard is where smart people go to college. I went there.
GOLDBERG: That leads me to my next question, Al.
FRANKEN: Liar, liar, pants on fire!
GOLDBERG: Right. So here’s what I’m wondering: You went to Harvard; Frank Rich, the New York Times columnist, went to Harvard; Michael Kinsley, now of the L.A. Times, went to Harvard. You’re all very smart, but you’re all very nasty, also. Why are so many Harvard media guys so mean-spirited?
FRANKEN: Come one, Bernie, you really need to ask that question? Just look at the three of us. We’re proof that evolution is only a theory. I mean, Frank and I are always goofing on Kinsley — behind his back, of course. The guy makes Richard Simmons look like Sylvester Stallone. He’s always nitpicking because somebody used a semicolon instead of a comma. This guy is a looooo-ser. So is Frank, but don’t tell him I told you.
GOLDBERG: That’s quite revealing, Al. Anything else?
FRANKEN: Yes. I’m going to tell you a secret, Bernie, because I like you. WE ALL HATE OURSELVES: Frank Rich, Michael Kinsley, and me. We’re self-loathing nerds who can’t do much except make fun of other people. Why do you think I call people “liars”? Because it makes me feel better about… ME! Bernie, I’m so SICK.
GOLDBERG: I’ve never heard you open up like this, Al. Do you really think that you’re sick?
FRANKEN: Who said that?
GOLDBERG: You did. You just told me exactly that.
FRANKEN: Have I called you a liar, yet, today? Because, if I haven’t, I’m about to start.
GOLDBERG: Why are you wearing a tinfoil hat?
FRANKEN: No comment.
GOLDBERG: Okay, Al. Thanks very much for your time. By the way, do you know why you’re number thirty-seven on the list of people who are screwing up America?
FRANKEN: No, actually, I don’t.
GOLDBERG: Well, you know who Casey Stengel was?
FRANKEN: Sure, that baseball man, right?
GOLDBERG: Right, Al, that baseball man. He was the manager of the New York Yankees. Well, Casey walked into spring training camp one year and told all of his players to line up in alphabetical order… according to height. [Heh!] He wasn’t trying to be funny. Casey spoke gibberish… gobbledygook… total nonsense. Just like you, Al. And Casey’s uniform number was… thirty-seven! That’s why I gave you that number.
FRANKEN: Do you like my hat? It’s made out of tinfoil, you know.
GOLDBERG: Thanks again, Al.

I wonder what Al had to say about Bernie’s little satire. Any guesses?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s