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August 26, 2003

There's little Al Franken hasn't accomplished.

Franken and partner Tom Davis were stand-up comedians in Los Angeles when hired sight unseen by Lorne Michaels for a new show. That program, of course, Saturday Night Live, where Franken spent a combined 15 years as a writer / performer / producer, work that earned him five Emmy awards and considerable recognition for his portrayal of politicos Paul Simon and Paul Tsongas, Pat Robertson, and the recurring "Al Franken Decade" and Stuart Smalley segments.

It's Franken's well-honed abilities as a satirist and commentator, though, that have drawn the most attention. Throughout the 1988 election, he could be seen daily on CNN, and four years later hosted Comedy Central's "Indecision '92" to much acclaim. His 1995 effort Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat, Idiot raised more than one set of eyebrows, and Why Not Me?: The Unmaking of the Franken Presidency chronicled his rise to the highest elected office in the land - and his quick departure once there. Both books sold more than a million copies each.

Add to this Lateline, a critically-praised, unfortunately overlooked sit-com, three movies, a couple of White House Correspondents Dinners and a Grammy-award winning comedy album, and Franken's three decades in comedy rank as among the most inventive, rewarding and entertaining yet.

Franken joined Inside Joke on the eve of the release of his latest book Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.