Al Franken has confirmed that he will run for office as a senator of Minnesota in the next elections. Al probably isn’t as well known in the UK as, say, Michael Moore, but I’ve been a big fan of his for years. Al wrote the brilliantly satirical take on the rabid right wing media in the US (you know, those racist, sexist numpties who flat out fib on air) with Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (highly recommended; the audio book version, read by Al, is even funnier). Even if you haven’t read this you may have heard of it because the subtitle was “a fair and balanced look” which pissed off Murdoch’s Fox empire (and we know how hard that is because they are such a warm, cuddly and inclusive organisation). Why? Well apart from the fact that some of the more high profile media targets he went after were broadcast by Fox in the US (they have been told off by media monitors here since they started re-broadcasting them to the UK for the biased opinions and lack of facts) and also because the ultra-right wing Fox News has the slogan ‘fair and balanced’ in it.
So their Monty Burns’ type gaggle of evil lawyers swooped and tried to get the book banned before publication in the US a few years back, which shows how much they believe in freedom of expression and debate in a democratic society. The judge laughed them out of court saying that this was pretty much the definition of ‘fair use’ for satire and there was no case; in the meantime the media coverage of this fiasco pushed the book to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list in the US before it even came out. As own goals go it was up there with the time some of Fox’s lawyers wanted to go after those left-wing pinkoes who write the Simpsons for always portraying Fox as a channel of right-wing news and mediocre, low-brow programming. Until someone pointed out to said lawyers that the Simpsons was actually a Fox show… And of course, years before this, back in the late 90s during the old dial-up internet days those same lawyers went after fans who ran sites celebrating the only two Fox shows anyone had heard of, the Simpsons and the X-Files and told them all to shut up shop, how dare they use pictures etc of Fox properties. So, yes, they were so stupid they attacked fans who were promoting their products free for them; today a PR person would be your best friend for running such a site.
I wonder how Al Franken will do with his campaign; I’d like to see him get into office – he certainly can’t do a worse job than the other numpties who routinely end up in office in most countries. The subject was raised in the recent documentary And God Spoke where a team followed Al around and the subject of possibly running for office one day came up a couple of times (I caught it at the Edinburgh Film Festival last summer). I wonder if we can get Mark Thomas to be an MP here in Blighty?