Humorist promotes anti-Rush Limbaugh book at U

Amira Awad

Although the title of Al Franken’s book — “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot” — aggravated some University Bookstores customers, the former Saturday Night Live actor spoke to more than 400 people without any taunting.
Kari Weidling, a marketing manager of the bookstores, said employees had some strange experiences before the comedian spoke Thursday. “I’ve never heard so much discussion over an author here.”
A man, who didn’t identify himself, came into the bookstore Monday carrying a poster advertising Franken’s visit. Terry Labandz, a bookstore supervisor, said the man was offended by the posters and wanted the bookstore to remove some text from them.
Labandz told the customer that the bookstore tries to present all points of view. Also, the bookstore carried and promoted Rush Limbaugh’s best-selling book when it was released.
Both Weidling and Labandz said a lot of the posters about Franken’s appearance were torn down earlier this week.
Franken’s satire will be the No. 1 non-fiction book on the New York Times Best Seller List next week.
The University’s Students for Family Values hosts Rush Room, a gathering spot for Limbaugh fans. Orlando Ochoada, a member of the student group, said the organization respects the views and opinions of other groups and advocates an open exchange of ideas.
Ochoada said he doesn’t know who was tearing down the posters. “We advocate discussion,” he said. “Perhaps if the University had a more tolerant atmosphere, people wouldn’t (raise a fuss).”
Of the book’s title and content, Franken said at the signing that he’s had more supporters than hecklers.
The Minnesota native said his book is “really funny, and it’s also mean.” The book is a political satire that makes fun of many Republican figures.
During his speech, he joked repeatedly of Limbaugh’s size — at one point saying the conservative could “balance a barge.”
Franken has received criticism for the title of the book. “There is far too much negativity in our public discourse. I just wanted to add to it by taking on somebody who’s made his life (out of negativity),” Franken said.
University senior Riawa Smith said she came to hear Franken speak because his political commentary has more depth than just following the polls.
Stuart Smalley, one of Franken’s most famous characters from Saturday Night Live, appeared at the book signing. “Rush is in denial. He is an overeater,” Franken said, speaking as Smalley. “He’s a little judgmental.”
Calling his book honest, Franken said he hasn’t heard anyone challenge any of the facts in the text.
He predicted in the book that Pat Buchanan would fare well in the primaries, but he doesn’t think he will win the Republican Party nomination. “That shows the low regard I have for Republican primary voters,” he said. “I don’t like Pat Buchanan.”
While he slammed Limbaugh and Buchanan, Franken said some Republicans aren’t so bad. “I have a soft spot for Dole; I’m not sure why.”
While Franken grew up in St. Louis Park and went to Blake High School, he said he doesn’t follow Minnesota politics. But he did comment on Rod Gramms. “I’m not impressed,” he said, adding that he’s “sick of cranky white males who can’t keep their families together.”
Asked if he would run for presidency, Franken said he would when his former drug use wouldn’t be an issue.
Who does he think will end up in the race for the presidency in November? “I think it will be Dole and Clinton,” he said.