Say hello to my little friend

Early on in Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, while Al is dissecting the sloppy and inaccurate Bernard Goldberg, there's a strange little aside.

Goldberg cites as an example of media bias, an off-air comment from a CBS producer who called Gary Bauer — the former head of the Family Research Council and longshot Republican candidate for president — a "little nut from the Christian group." Here's the aside:

(Full disclosure — Gary's a friend of mine, is small, a Christian, and not a nut.)

Al Franken is friends with Gary Bauer? It doesn't seem like he's joking, but maybe I'm missing something. Maybe Al's just "kidding on the square."

But later on, Al is talking to President Bush's Bible-study buddy, Commerce Secretary Don Evans. According to Newsweek's Howard Fineman, in the article "Bush and God," Evans and Bush spent a year studying the New Testament book of Acts.

Franken: "So, you know what Acts is about?"

Evans: "No."

That part is hilarious (Jeanne has the full excerpt at Body and Soul), but so is Evans' weird claim that Acts relates "Jesus' Parable of the Talents." Don, buddy, you want parables, read the Gospels. This is the Acts of the Apostles. Jesus only shows up for the first nine verses which — and this is Franken's point — it would be hard not to realize if you really spent a year studying the book with your good friend George.

(Full disclosure — the first eight chapters of Acts were the focus of a Bible Quiz Tournament I competed in during eighth grade at Timothy Christian School. We got our butts kicked by the team from Lancaster Mennonite. I only managed to buzz in first for one answer: "Theophilus.")

Here's Franken:

It was a complete fluke that I had any clue at all about Talents. Last year my son, Joe, had been assigned some New Testament readings in his mostly Jewish private high school and had to write a short paper on, yep, Talents. He couldn't understand it and came to me. I couldn't make any sense of it either, so I called Gary Bauer. That's right. … As I said, Gary and I are friends. Honestly. It's a long story. But we like each other. And what better guy to explain a parable in Matthew? (Not Acts.) Gary wasn't home, so his wife Carol, who's also a friend (though I think she has some doubts about me), explained Talents.

So they really do seem to be friends. "It's a long story," Franken says. Some day I hope he shares it with the rest of us.

As odd as this is, I find it strangely hopeful.

(NOTE: The link above for Fineman's article takes you to what seems to be the English section of a Danish site about … something Danish.'s link for the Newsweek story is dead, and this came up on Google. You gotta love the Web.)

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  • Kevin Drum

    Yeah, he said the same thing in “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.” He’s never told the whole story, but he really is friends with Bauer.

  • Johan

    Actually, it’s German. “de” is short for Deutschland.

  • Kevin J. Maroney

    We had a pet hamster that we named “Theophilus” in honor of the person to whom the Lucan writings are addressed. It’s always a surprise to see his name pop up.

  • Kevin J. Maroney

    I hit “send” prematurely. The Parable of the Talents is, of course, in all three synoptic gospels–Matt 25:14-30, Mark 13:34, and Luke 19:11-27. The full excerpt from Franken says that the class studied Luke *and* Acts, together. It’s likely that the group spent a whole lot of time on Luke and relatively little on Acts, so it’s vaguely possible that Evans was remembering it from the wrong source for a reasonable reason.

  • Fred

    Kevin —
    It’s also a pleasant surprise to see the word “synoptic” used outside of a seminary classroom. You’re probably right about Evans Luke/Acts mixup, but even so, you’d think after a yearlong study, he’d have a clearer idea of which one is the Gospel.
    For an uncharitable, but enlightening look at D.C. Power-broker Bible studies, check out this article from Harper’s:

  • Fred

    Oh, and Johan is of course right about .de sites. They’re German. Danish sites use a .dk suffix. My goof.