In another part of the book you argue that Jerry Falwell is “a nut” because, while he said the Anti-Christ is a living Jewish male, he has not yet fingered Marvin Hamlisch.

Well he actually said he didn’t know if it was Hamlisch or not.

So he was hedging?

Yeah, I thought you could rule out Hamlish. I thought a sane person could say Marvin Hamlisch is not the Anti-Christ. Why would the Anti-Christ write Chorus Line? Why would the Anti-Christ write The Way We Were?

Chorus Line, you might get an argument on.

Nah, I don’t think so.

Other than that, what’s wrong with the religious right?

They sometimes forget we don’t live in a theocracy. They can be in the public square and express their opinion but to expect other people to alter their behavior to say that, for example, that homosexuality is immoral because it says so in the Bible…I mean it also says you can’t eat pork. I don’t see a lot of orthodox Jews saying people who eat pork shouldn't be allowed to get insurance benefits.

I mean there’s stuff in the bible how about how to sell your daughter. They kind of are pretty selective about what is important and what isn’t. I think slavery is ok in the bible. It’s stupid! It’s like the dumbest thing that they want to proscribe other people’s behavior based on their belief.

Conservatives have made the argument that the civil rights movement was very influenced by black preachers and in general the liberal church movement.

Yeah, that was great!

Isn’t that a case of religion being brought into the public sphere to change laws?

Yeah, that was good! That was good, let me tell you why: segregation was wrong.

[So are you saying] it’s ok to use religion in the public sphere as long as you agree with it?

In that case it was brought in because the preachers said “This is immoral.” And it’s immoral because it’s wrong – it’s just wrong on its face.

But on its face, [it’s clear that] people don’t have the right to stick their penis somewhere you don’t want them to stick their penis? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Bob Jones University--now why did you do that mean practical joke on them? [Franken and a research assistant impersonated a prospective college student and parent in order to make fun of Bob Jones University]

Did you think it was mean? We didn’t really mean to hurt anybody. We were kind of making fun of them. I tried to write in the chapter how nice they were.

Well you wrote “a good honest days work done, lying to God-fearing people. We’d sleep well that night.”

(Laughter) That’s known as satire. That’s irony and ambiguity, which are protected, I’ve learned. I did it because that’s where Bush chose to start the [2000] campaign, particularly South Carolina campaign. [Bush strategist] Warren Tompkins said ‘We had to do that to send the right message’ so if that’s the case, I wanted to find out what the place was about. So that was the satiric reason.

The comedic reason was…it just seemed hilarious to me. It was my wife’s idea to do it with my son, and that would have required less lying, but he didn’t want to. So we did lie to the people but we represent it honestly in the book. It was a prank.


In another part of the book you had an interesting line about the alliance between evangelical Christians and Jews in support for Israel. You seem suspicious of the evangelical support for Israel.

If they believe what they say they believe, they believe that the Jews have to be in Israel in order for the apocalypse to occur. So it seems to me that they want the second coming to happen and it can only happen if the Jews are in Israel so that when the rapture happens and the apocalypse and all that shit, all the Jews will die in fiery hell. So that’s why I’m a little suspicious of it. Wouldn’t you be?

What about Democrats – Democrats lie sometimes too, right?

Never! Yeah, sure, I guess. I think everybody lies sometime in their life. What I was kind of documenting was the systematic lying on the right and complete disregard for the truth.

There’s a difference between lying about your sex life and lying about why sending men and women into battle. I think there’s a huge difference.

Do you think hell exists and if so, who is there?

I think hell exists on earth. It’s a psychological state or it can be a physical state. People who have severe mental illness are in hell. People who have lost a loved one are in hell. I think there are all kinds of different hells. It’s not a place you go to after you die.

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