Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations

by Al Franken




In the grand satirical tradition of Swift, Rabelais, and Twain comes...

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, and Other Observations...

a scathing—but uncompromisingly fair—look at America's largest talk show host and the rest of the Republican right.

        Penned by the Emmy award-winning Saturday Night Live writer whom John Podhoretz of the New York Post has called "the man responsible for some of the most brilliant political satire of our time," Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot tackles the issues—and the politicians—in ways few have dared...
        Exploding Medicare Costs: "Why not shoot the elderly into space?  Stay with me.  Because I'm not just thinking about the budget here.  I'm talking about science.  Just think how many more manned space operations NASA could undertake if they didn't have to worry about getting the astronauts back."
        Crime: "I have a radical gun-buyback idea that I guarantee would be a huge success.  Here's how it works: hand in a gun, get a free vial of crack."
        Newt Gingrich: "Many of us, like Newt, have acknowledged smoking dope and reading Toffler in the early 70s.  But after reading his book, I think Newt's dirty little secret is that he smoked dope and watched The Jetsons."
        Phil Gramm: "If you get beyond the fact the Gramm is ugly, mean, hypocritical, has a boob fetish, and drives his wife like a mule, he does have a certain folksy charm."
        On the subject of Rush Limbaugh, Franken lets the facts speak for themselves. Listen to Rush, the "rugged individualist" and enemy of government handouts, explain how his second wife made him stop sitting around the house eating just food and go file for unemployment insurance.  And learn all of Rush's several explanations for how he avoided the draft.
        Of course, when it comes to draft-dodging Republicans, Rush isn't alone. Reading Al's Vietnam short story, "Operation Chickenhawk," you'll savor the exploits of Privates Limbaugh, Gramm, Quayle, Buchanan, Gingrich, and George Will as Lieutenant Oliver North leads them kicking and screaming into combat.
        And don't miss Al's informative discussion with the man who has "the easiest job in America": Rush Limbaugh's fact-checker.  And much, much more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440508649
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/1999
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.53(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Al Franken is the author of I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me! and Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot. He currently serves on the United States Senate as the senator from Minnesota.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

May 21, 1951


B.S., Political Science, Harvard University, 1973

Read an Excerpt

Book Review

January 7, 1996

By Al Franken
288 pp. Delacorte Press:

by Jeane Kirkpatrick

IT REMAINS a mystery why the New York Times would ask me to review this dreadfully foul little book. I am an expert on geopolitical strategic paradigms, not on the sort of cheap, mindless mockery that seems to be Mr. Franken's forte. It is almost as if this were the result of some awful mistake by the Times. Why, for example, would humorist P. J. O'Rourke be assigned this very same week to review Nigel Hodgeson's wonderful tome The Falkland Islands War--Six Hundred Years in the Making? Is it possible that because O'Rourke and I have the same agent, some simple mix-up occurred? Perhaps P.J., our agent, or I should have tried to sort this out. But I have simply been too busy trying to slog through this repugnant collection of vile, unfunny essays.

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations is not just unfunny. It is confused. While Mr. Franken decries "the loss of civility in public discourse," he himself is a most egregious offender, not just calling Rush Limbaugh "a big fat idiot," but Newt Gingrich "a big fat jerk," and House majority leader Richard Armey "a big dick."

Mr. Franken seems to want to have it both ways, criticizing Limbaugh for "demonizing" those who disagree with him, but all the while attacking his enemies with invective and scurrilous assertions that remain totally unproven. For example, nowhere in the 288-page screed does Franken actually show any real evidence that Limbaugh is indeedfat. There is not one footnoted reference concerning Limbaugh's body weight, and Mr. Franken seems to be relying on sheer guesswork. Indeed, on page 45, he refers to Limbaugh as "a three-hundred pound blimp," while on page 117, he refers to a "size-78 suit squeezing Rush's some six-hundred pound frame like so much sausage casing." Which is it? Three hundred or six hundred?

One begins to wonder if Franken isn't just inventing things out of whole cloth. After a careful reread of The Bell Curve, nowhere in its 800-plus pages did I find Murray and Herrnstein refer to jazz as "the music created by morons." And similarly, Newt Gingrich's Contract with America did not "promise to make it easier to sue for divorce a spouse with cancer."

Occasionally Mr. Franken does succeed to amuse. When discussing the Senate Banking Committee's Whitewater investigation, he writes, "Having Al D'Amato lead an ethics investigation is like asking Bob Dornan to head up a mental health task force." I must admit that one made me chortle; Bob Dornan is dangerously unstable. Yet only thirty-seven pages later Mr. Franken, for all intents and purposes, repeats the joke. "Having Al D'Amato lead an ethics investigation is like asking Ross Perot [my emphasis] to head up a mental health task force." Again, funny. But which is it? Bob Dornan or Ross Perot?

As one labors through Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations one quickly concludes that Mr. Franken chose the title simply as a craven device to attract readers. Yes, the book's opening essay is "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot." But in it Mr. Franken negates the whole premise of his book, when in referring to Limbaugh's enormous success, he writes: "All right. I guess Limbaugh is not an idiot. But you have to admit, he's big and fat."

In fact, one of the author's goals seems to be to draw Limbaugh into some kind of public feud, as if that would enhance the sales of his book. Calling Limbaugh "a fat bully" who is "too scared to engage in open debate with anyone other than pre-screened callers," Franken gratuitously taunts the talk radio host: "Limbaugh is able to attack women and keep the audience's sympathy for one reason and one reason only. He is clearly a sad, fat loser wounded by a pathetic history with the opposite sex." Again, Franken offers no proof, other than to cite that Limbaugh met his third, and current, wife on CompuServe.

Will Limbaugh rise to the bait? Franken seems to hope so, writing on page 187, "I hope he rises to the bait." Even so, Franken admits that Limbaugh would probably prevail in a one-on-one encounter. Franken, who insists that Bill Clinton is "by far" our best post-war President, admits to being a part of "the fuzzy-headed liberal middle" and that mano-a-mano he would be no match for Limbaugh's clearheaded, "well thought out," right-wing doctrine. "Besides, I'm a comedian," is his weak defense. Franken's plan, as revealed in his chapter "I Have Smart Friends," is to lure Limbaugh into a live debate on ABC's Nightline, then act sick, getting Michael Kinsley to fill in for him at the last second.

As reprehensible as I found this strategem [my word], I was even more appalled by the flippant, smart-alecky tone of the non-Limbaugh chapters, including one entitled "If Abortions Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Abortions." My goodness. If this is the kind of mindless tripe that passes for political satire these days, I fear for this nation!


He Said, She Said

To the Editor:

It was with great horror that I picked up Sunday's Times to see that you had assigned Jeane Kirkpatrick to review my book, "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations" (January 7). It had been my understanding that in the interest of objectivity your paper has had a long-standing policy of not assigning an author's former lover to review his book. As anyone who was familiar with the Manhattan eighties' club scene knows, Ms. Kirkpatrick and I endured a somewhat stormy and all too public affair during her tenure as our country's U.N. Ambassador. Even then Ms. Kirkpatrick, though my lover, had no discernible sense of humor. In fact, a primary cause of our breakup was her almost obdurate unwillingness to understand irony, an unwillingness which is woefully apparent in her uncomprehending review of my very funny book. Come on! Be fair. Next time get someone who isn't my former lover to review my book!

New York

Ambassador Kirkpatrick replies:

I don't know what this horrible, horrible man is talking about. During the time that I served as ambassador to the United Nations I was far too busy defending the people of America, including (unfortunately) Mr. Franken, against the dark forces of Soviet Communism to cheat on my husband, let alone "go clubbing" (my phrase) as Mr. Franken suggests. After careful examination of my appointment calendars from that period, I admit that I did on one occasion step foot inside Studio 54, but I can assure you that once I saw what was going on in that place, I quickly turned on my heel and left. I can assure you as well that Mr. Franken will be hearing from my attorney, as will the New York Times. How on earth the Times could print his letter and take part in this abhorrent calumny is beyond me.

The editors reply:

It is our policy to allow authors to respond to reviews in the manner they see fit. Since Mr. Franken's claim of an affair between Ms. Kirkpatrick and himself comes down to a matter of "he-said, she-said," we felt the Ambassador's denial was insufficient to prevent us from printing his response. We did, however, edit Mr. Franken's letter, omitting a number of gratuitously lurid descriptions which were entirely irrelevant to his complaint. And, yes, it is our policy not to allow a former lover to review an author's book. Our apologies to Mr. Franken.

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