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Inside the System

August 22, 2003 | Page 6

When Fox News attacks

FOX NEWS has given comedian and writer Al Franken the best free publicity he could hope for. Franken's new book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right has run afoul of Fox--because, according to the media giant, they own the trademark to the phrase "fair and balanced."

So they're suing to stop Franken from using it in the title. The Fox lawsuit heaps abuse on Franken personally, saying that "since Franken's reputation as a political commentator is not of the same caliber as the stellar reputations of [Fox News'] on-air talent, any association between Franken and Fox News is likely to blur or tarnish Fox News' distinctive mark."

This from the network that featured right-wing commentator Bill O'Reilly screaming at antiwar actor Janeane Garofalo about how the French and Germans were "weasels" for not supporting Bush's war on Iraq--and that he was sure she "wouldn't date a Frenchman." How "stellar."

Fox's crazy lawsuit also claims that "Franken has physically accosted Fox News personalities in the past and was reported to have appeared either intoxicated or deranged as he flew into a rage near a table of Fox News personalities..."He is not a well-respected voice in American politics; rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable."

Unlike Bill O'Reilly, of course. At a book convention in Los Angeles in June, when Franken pointed out that O'Reilly, a fellow panelist, falsely claimed several times that a tabloid news show he once anchored had won a Peabody Award, a flustered O'Reilly called Franken an idiot and yelled at him to "shut up."

He later threatened that Fox lawyers would sue Franken for using his picture on his new book's cover without permission. Franken, however, is taking the lawsuit in stride. "I'd like to thank Fox for all the publicity," he recently commented.

"As far as the personal attacks go, when I read 'intoxicated or deranged' and 'shrill and unstable' in their complaint, I thought for a moment I was a Fox commentator. And by the way, a few months ago, I trademarked the word 'funny.' So when Fox calls me 'unfunny,' they're violating my trademark. I am seriously considering a countersuit."

Meanwhile, Franken's book has shot to the top of's best-seller list.

-- Washington Post, August 12, 2003

G.I. George: Real American zero

DUBYA IS coming to a toy store near you. In September, KB Toys will unleash "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush," a scale model of the president decked out in the camouflage flight suit that he wore May 1 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, when he declared major combat over in Iraq.

"This fully poseable figure features a realistic head sculpt, fully detailed cloth flight suit, helmet with oxygen mask, survival vest, g-pants, parachute harness and much more," says KB's Web site. "The realism and exacting attention to detail demanded by today's 12-inch action figure enthusiast are met and exceeded with this action figure. This incredibly detailed figure is a fitting addition to the collection of those interested in U.S. history, military memorabilia and toy action figures."

So not only does Bush get to play pretend fly boy, kids can play along with him. And the cost of this little piece of history? Just $39.99.

--, August 8, 2003

Heard it through the grapevine

"JANE, COME here. Me, Tarzan."
-- Boston immigration Judge Thomas Ragno, to a Ugandan woman seeking political asylum in the United States

"I THINK our welcome's worn out. We don't even get that fake wave anymore. They just stare."
-- Lt. Tom Garner, Fourth Infantry Division

"FROM A business perspective, it's great for the NBA."
-- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, on Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case

"COME OVER here and make me. I dare you, you little fruitcake."
-- California Rep. Pete Stark at a House Ways and Means Committee meeting that blew up into a fight over pension reform, where police had to be called to restore order

"INTELLIGENCE DOESN'T necessarily mean something is true, it's just intelligence. You know, it's your best estimate of the situation. It doesn't mean it's a fact. I mean, that's not what intelligence is."
-- Gen. Richard B. Myers, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq

"WE HAD a good Cabinet meeting, talked about a lot of issues. Secretary of State and Defense brought us up to date about our desires to spread freedom and peace around the world."
-- George W. Bush

"SECURITY IS the essential roadblock to achieving the road map to peace."
-- Bush

"OUR COUNTRY puts $1 billion a year up to help feed the hungry. And we're by far the most generous nation in the world when it comes to that, and I'm proud to report that. This isn't a contest of who's the most generous. I'm just telling you as an aside. We're generous. We shouldn't be bragging about it. But we are. We're very generous."
-- Bush

"I'M THE master of low expectations."
-- Bush

"I'M ALSO not very analytical. You know, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself--about why I do things."
-- Bush

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