Robert Frost's maxim rings all too true these days: "A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel."
That's not a problem for Al Franken. Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right is a hilarious assault on the risible likes of Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly. Are they liars, or just delusional? "I'm not certain," Franken says. "I'd say that there's a little of both. I think Coulter is more deliberate in the way she does it. I don't know what that means about a person, when they say, 'This is what I'm going to do for my livelihood: lie.'"
In a classic move of political judo, Franken parried Fox News' lawsuit over the book's "fair and balanced" tag into a publicity knockout. Fox didn't help itself by peppering the complaint with ludicrous ad-hominem attacks on Franken and his credibility. "The lawsuit itself and the nature of the complaint just corroborated everything that I say in my book about them," he says. "It made me laugh."
In the book, Franken broadens his critique to take on the entire Bush administration, building a case that Clinton was a more effective anti-terrorist than Bush. Before 9/11, he says, "Ashcroft was turning down money hand over fist for counter-terrorism, wanting to spend it on other things."
So can liberals turn their growing anger into success by ousting Bush? "I think we have a great opportunity," Franken says. "I heard a Republican the other day saying, 'Well, we know what the Democrats are gonna do. They don't have any vision -- they're just gonna run against Bush's record.' They're so fucking stupid! Bush has so many self-inflicted wounds now. His credibility has been cracked, and it's never going to be put back together again."
Liberals in the choir and conservatives armed with rotten tomatoes can meet Franken at 7 p.m. at the Clayton High School gym (1 Mark Twain Circle) for free with purchase of Lies... from Left Bank Books (314-367-6731); admission is $8 without book purchase. -- Jason Toon
Hey, W.! We Found 'Em!
They got da bombs
Hey kids, you like freestyle hip-hop battles? Sure you do! However, this is no chump change cipher; this is the Word War at the South City VFW Hall (215 Military Road, 314-370-7764), where all liquid swords will be drawn. Not just any sucker MC can come down and deploy their WMDs (Words o' Mass Destruction), though, as the sixteen combatants are pre-registered for this judged competition. The victor gets a cash prize and the respect of their peers, but the real winners are the livers of those in attendance, as Mass Occur productions promises free beer to all those 21 and older who pay the $10 cover. -- Erik Carlson
Food in Your Beard
More than a feast fit for a king, the twelfth annual BBQ for Beard is fit for all the king's men. About 40 area chefs will be strutting their stuff at this yearly all-you-can-eat, stuff-yourself-silly fundraiser, benefiting both the St. Louis Friends of James Beard Scholarship Fund and the Beard House in New York City. (Point of information: Beard, 1903-1985, was a cookbook author, restaurant consultant and cooking teacher considered to be the "father of American cooking.")
The event runs from 1-4 p.m. at the Mount Pleasant Winery in Augusta. Tickets cost $40 per adult; kids younger than 10 enter free. Advance tickets are required and are available at 800-467-WINE. For other info, call 800-36-BEARD. -- Rose Martelli
Tough Goths Do Dance
Guy Maddin's silent re-interpretation of the beloved Dracula myth, Dracula: Pages From the Virgin's Diary, is a ballet (literally) of shadowy drama cut with campy, melodramatic flair. A cadre of housemaids dance with giant crosses while a title card flashes "DEATH! It is only the beginning"; a vampiric Mina Harker pirouettes daintily in high-contrast black and white while holding aloft a baby, whose blood she then sucks down greedily; her beau Johnathan laments (on another card), "No man knows 'til he does it what it's like to feel his blood drawn away into the woman he loves." You said it, brother. Maddin's film screens at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue, 314-968-7483). Tickets are $4-$6. -- Paul Friswold