God chose me to write this book.
Just the fact that you are reading this is proof not just of God's
existence, but also of His/Her/Its beneficence. That's right. I am
not certain of God's precise gender. But I am certain that
He/She/It chose me to write this book.
This isn't hubris. I'm not saying this in an egotistical way. God
didn't choose me because I'm the greatest writer who ever lived.
That was William Shakespeare, whose work I have a passing
familiarity with. No. I just happened to be the right vessel at the
right time. If something in this book makes you laugh, it was God's
joke. If something makes you think, it's because God had a good
point to make.
The reason I know God chose me is because God spoke to me
God began our conversation by clearing something up. Some of George
W. Bush's friends say that Bush believes God called him to be
president during these times of trial. But God told me that
He/She/It had actually chosen Al Gore by making sure that Gore won
the popular vote and, God thought, the electoral college. "THAT
WORKED FOR EVERYONE ELSE," God said.
"What about Tilden?" I asked, referring to the 1876 debacle.
"QUIET!" God snapped. God was angry.
God said that after 9/11, George W. Bush squandered a unique moment
of national unity. That instead of rallying the country around a
program of mutual purpose and sacrifice, Bush cynically used the
tragedy to solidify his political power and pursue an agenda that
panders to his base and serves the interests of his corporate
God told me that Bush squandered a $4.6 trillion surplus and is
plunging us into deficits as far as God can see. And that Bush
squandered another surplus. The surplus of goodwill from the rest
of the world that he had inherited from Bill Clinton.
And this was pissing God off.
He/She/It was right. But it sounded like a lot of work.
"Look, God, I'm flattered, but I think you got the wrong guy. The
kind of book you're talking about would require months of
And God said, "LET THERE BE GOOGLE. AND LET THERE BE
"Very funny, God. I use Google all the time."
"YES, I KNOW," God said. "FOR HOT ASIAN TEENS."
"You must be thinking of my son, Joe."
"AL? I'M OMNISCIENT."
"Okay, okay." I changed the subject. "It's just that I can't do
this book myself."
"LEAVE THAT TO ME," God boomed.
And that's when Harvard called.
Harvard's Kennedy School of Government asked me to serve as a
fellow at its Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public
Policy. After my varied and celebrated career in television,
movies, publishing, and the lucrative world of corporate speaking,
being a fellow at Harvard seemed, frankly, like a step down.
I couldn't think of anything less appealing than molding the minds
of tomorrow's leaders, unless it was spending fireside evenings
sipping sherry with great minds at the Faculty Club. Yawn.
To my surprise and delight, though, all Harvard wanted me to do was
show up every once in a while and write something about something.
That gave me an idea.
"Would it be okay if I wrote a scathingly partisan attack on the
rightwing media and the Bush administration?"
"No problem," Harvard said absentmindedly.
"Count me in," I replied. "From now on call me 'Professor
"No," Harvard said, "you're not a professor. But you can run a
study group on the topic of your choosing."
"Great," I said. "I've got the perfect topic: Write My Son's
Harvard College Application Essay."
"No," they said. "Harvard students already know how to write
successful Harvard applications, Al. We want you to teach them
Harvard was right where I wanted it. "How about if the topic is:
How to Research My Book?"
"Sure," Harvard said. "Most of our professors teach that course.
Why, in the Biochemistry department, most of the graduate level
Harvard was boring me. "I gotta run, Harvard. Thanks."
I had my Nexis, I had my Google, I had my Harvard fellowship, and I
had my fourteen research assistants. I sat down to write.
So I got on my knees and prayed for guidance. "How, God, can I best
do Your work through this book? Who, dear Lord, is the audience for
a book like this? And what's a good title?"
God answered, "YOU KNOW THOSE SHITTY BOOKS BY ANN COULTER AND
"The best-sellers that claim there's a liberal bias in the media?"
"TOTAL BULLSHIT," God said. "START BY ATTACKING THEM. HE'S CLEARLY
A DISGRUNTLED FORMER EMPLOYEE, AND SHE JUST LIES. BY THE WAY,
THERE'S SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH HER."
"That's pretty obvious."
"SO GO AFTER THEM, THE WHOLE LIBERAL BIAS MYTH, AND THEN GO AFTER
THE RIGHT-WING MEDIA. ESPECIALLY FOX."
"Okay, God, I'm writing this down."
"THEN USE THEM AS A JUMPING-OFF POINT TO GO AFTER BUSH. YOU KNOW,
BIG TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH, SURGING UNEMPLOYMENT, IGNORING EVERYONE
BUT HIS CORPORATE BUDDIES, SCREWING THE ENVIRONMENT, PISSING OFF
THE REST OF THE WORLD. THAT STUFF. AND THAT'S YOUR BOOK."
"Got it. One last thing. Title."
"HOW ABOUT BEARERS OF FALSE WITNESS AND THE FALSE WITNESS THAT THEY
"Hmm. I, uh, I'll work with that."
Excerpted from LIES: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them ©
Copyright 2003 by Al Franken. Reprinted with permission by Dutton,
a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved.
Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
- paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Plume
- ISBN-10: 0452285216
- ISBN-13: 9780452285217