Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot
“”Subsequent viewings [of the Rush Limbaugh Show] pretty much confirmed that the point of Rush's show is to punish you for actually knowing anything.
Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot And Other Observations is a book by former Saturday Night Live comedian, writer, and actor and Senator Al Franken. The title is fairly self-explanatory. This was Franken's first work of political commentary and invariably launched him into future success with forays such as Air America and a successful campaign for Minnesota's Senate seat in 2008.
The book was written in 1996, before the Monica Lewinsky scandal but after the introduction of the Republican party's "Contract With America." Cruising along the wake of the revocation of the Fairness Doctrine, conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh et al gained major popularity and notoriety in the United States.
In stereotypical Jewish fashion, the book starts with a negative and ostensibly satirical review by former Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, as well as a rebuttal from Franken that suggests that they had, at one time in the 1980s, fooled around.
Franken starts the book by lambasting the title's target. A collection of ad hominem yet factual attacks about Limbaugh's obesity are only the sprinklings of an otherwise thorough analysis of Limbaugh's history of anti-feminism, conservatism, racism, and—for some reason—fashion critiques espoused during his radio show.[note 1] Franken then proceeds to refute all of Limbaugh's hard-hitting talking points that he happened to hear or read about while researching for the book, usually through simple black swan counter-arguments.
Only three chapters devoted to Rush
Franken touches on many topics that were relevant at the time, and some today are no less meaningful:
- "Pseudo-certainty" among Limbaugh's listeners who turned out to be the least informed[note 2] yet the most confident of their knowledge. Scientists would later refer to this as the Dunning-Kruger effect; Franken called it "being a fucking moron".
- Limbaugh's baseless attacks on liberals as being anti-American, anti-business, lazy or whatever.
- Limbaugh's three marriages, his period of collecting unemployment, not voting for Ronald Reagan, being both a draft dodger and a chickenhawk, and other important hypocrisies.
- Limbaugh's use of quote mining and producing false interviews with figures such as Hillary Clinton, which Franken turns around by doing the exact thing to Limbaugh.
But the rest are still interesting/funny
Franken dedicates the remaining 44 chapters, most not more than ten pages in length each, to a variety of other topics, including:
- A decent proposal (in true Swiftian fashion) to recruit America's elderly into high-risk government jobs such as the military and NASA in order to cut down on Medicare expenses.
- Tearing into various conservative blowhards and chickenhawks, such as Pat Buchanan, Dan Quayle, Clarence Thomas, Oliver North, William Bennett, and Phil Gramm, including a fictional story about their exploits in the Vietnam War.
- You know all that stuff that we laugh about Newt Gingrich? It was all relevant in 1996 as well.
- Several humorous anecdotes about times when he was asked to speak at Democratic fundraisers or rallies.
- A slightly pre-Lewinsky "Lewinskying" of Bill Clinton and a few notes about how horrible the United States would be if Bob Dole had been elected.
- A preemptive refutation of any notion that the book might be part of a conspiracy in a chapter titled, "This book is not part of a conspiracy".
- A laundry list of items that were[note 3] in desperate need of reform in 1996, such as deficit spending policies, health care, environmental regulation, welfare, tort law and lobbying. It's almost like nothing has gotten better.
- A free preview on Google Books
- Franken talks about how Limbaugh spent many minutes of airtime complaining about how the "liberal media" misrepresented his own line of neckwear—likely to point out how inane the show is, generally.
- Sound familiar?
- And still are.