Flashback: Al Franken "Why Not Me?" February 1999


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Book News

Franken's most creative work

'Why Not Me?'
by Al Franken
Delacorte Press, $23.95
Review by Robert Nebel

Web posted on: Thursday, February 11, 1999 3:22:48 PM

(CNN) -- Actor/Comedian/Author Al Franken of television's "Lateline" and "Saturday Night Live" would like to be president.

Why not? With former President Reagan's success story and more recently, Governor Ventura's rise to the top of Minnesota politics, the idea doesn't seem too far-fetched. In this day and age of "Springer", Road Rage and ozone, the non-candidate has an even greater shot at becoming the Chief Executive of The United States.
More reading
CNN interview with Al Franken
Begin reading 'Why Not Me?'

That is why in his latest satirical effort titled "Why Not Me?", Franken proves once and for all that he has what it takes to reach The White House in 2001 -- or that's what his alter ego would like to think. Unlike his previous mostly reality-based observational book, "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big, Fat Idiot", "Why Not Me" is a total dream.
In a fantasy year 2000 campaign, Franken orchestrates a "Clintonesque"- style run for the Oval Office worthy of a journal chronicling sex, lies and disdain for New Hampshirites and Iowans alike. Franken's centerpiece campaign theme-calling for the abolition of ATM fees, which connects with the electorate who catapult him to the top of the polls.
As a result, Franken literally defeats his Democratic rivals in a bitter primary contest and a mean-spirited fall election when he trounces his Republican nemesis, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
With his inner circle behind him throughout the campaign and in his transition team, Franken creates a cabinet that does not look like America. Instead, it is an all-Jewish male cabinet which "he is comfortable with" including his brother Otto and baseball legend Sandy Koufax, appointed to Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Coming into his first one hundred days like a spastic horse, Franken falls into a deep depression after an abysmal inauguration speech which alienates much of the country.
After coming out of hiding, Franken decides to further alienate the country by cloning himself with a little help from his friend actress Anne Heche. His next political move: to travel to Baghdad and personally kill Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Luckily, his inner circle was able to sabotage this insane plan by drugging the president aboard Air Force One and returning him to Washington, D.C.
Even the best White House spinmeisters couldn't save this "dream president" from a congressional inquiry complete with heated exchanges from Representative Barney Frank and Senator Orrin Hatch. Overwhelming evidence of illegal campaign contributions, inappropriate sexual relations and unethical conduct plauging the Franken campaign and administration, leads to an abrupt overnight resignation.
This over 250 page-plus fictional account is Franken's most creative work to date. With a keen ability to blend the reality with fantasy, Franken paints a hilarious saga that keeps the reader in stitches from cover to cover. A word of caution: humor reminiscent of last year's film, "There's Something About Mary", is sprinkled throughout this "novel". Tales of campaign sex and defecation may rumble some of the stronger stomachs reading "Why Not Me?"
With a resume that includes "Saturday Night Live's" Stuart Smalley character to his current role as Al Freundlich on NBC's "Lateline", it is quite evident that Franken is a comic genius.
"Why Not Me?" only furthers proof of this.

Robert Nebel is a video editor at CNN. He is also an Atlanta-based freelance writer who specializes in theater, film and book reviews.

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