So, I've finished Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken. I really enjoyed it. Its clearly a satire, and Franken is at his wittiest, but also frequently genuinely outraged. A chapter on Paul Wellstone's funeral was especially emotional and a very good demonstration of the way stories get manipulated by the "fair and balanced" press. This is satire taken seriously, because he understands that these are serious issues. He makes a solid case in spite of himself. Also, practically none of the fat jokes that made me uncomfortable with the first book. They were all in one chapter which I just skipped over, too.
The first book always troubled me because I wasn't entirely sure how much of the endless fat jokes was satire. I mean, I understood in principle. He was satirizing the break-down in public discourse precipitated by people like Rush taking cheap shots against a 12-year old Chelsea Clinton. I don't think Franken really believes the fat jokes are, themselves, justified and proper. The thing is, I'm not sure he doesn't mean them anyway. Some comments he made about Chris Farley when he passed away were frustratingly fat hating. I don't believe he thinks its right to make cheap insults at the expense of fat people, and did it in his first book just to prove a satirical point. But, I don't think he's at all respectful of fat people on his own, so the satire seemed a little too true.
This reminds me of my unending confusion on how to take Comedy Central's The Man Show. On the one hand, it seems so hopelessly over the top that it must be satire. And there are moments which seem clearly intended to mock men and their habit towards "manliness". But men have a nasty habit of not getting satires of manliness, and other elements of the shows are viciously reactionary and entirely unredeemable. Fortunetly, I'm decidedly not their target audience so never watched much anyway, but I'm usually left with the feeling that its half-satire, half-serious, and I'm not sure how to take that. They have new hosts, now, though, so I'm curious how they are going with it. Joe Rogan, for instance, is a mixed bag. While he sometimes comes off as pretty mean-spirited, he's in the "equal-opportunity hate" kinda vein and has absolutely no tolerance for bigotry. He's very libertarian-style in his thinking, and I can respect that. Besides, I liked him on NewsRadio. But, I'm guessing it will probably keep to the formula of satire that's too truthful. But, given how unmotivated I am by giggling and jiggling porn-star types, I think these questions will remain unanswered for me.