In 1992, filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus documented Bill Clinton's presidential campaign, resulting in a still-noteworthy chronicle of political contending titledThe War Room. Twelve years later, co-directors Hegedus and Nick Doob (who was cinematographer for The War Room) followed the race of 2004, only this time their subject was interestingly not one of the candidates. Al Franken: God Spoke, which presents a year in the life of the title comedian/author/radio talk-show host, is a humorous, but more importantly illustrative, documentary about the weight of the media -- especially the comedic media -- on the last presidential election.
Franken, who got his break on Saturday Night Live, is one of today's most influential political humorists, and, along with Jon Stewart and Michael Moore, he represents liberal America's unfortunate dependence on jesters instead of kings. The film opens with the publication of his latest book, which attacks the Bush administration and conservative individuals such as Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly, then goes on to present the beginnings of his show on Air America Radio and observes the ensuing war between him and the right-wing media, particularly O'Reilly and Sean Hannity at Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. During an early scene, he tells a classroom of students, "I take what they say and use it against them." This practice is nothing new, yet somehow in a time when kids get their news more from comedy shows like The Daily Show than from newspapers, it makes someone like Franken an important political figure.