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I'd like to apologize to the riders last week on the Long Island Rail Road's 6:24 to Huntington. That train is always hellishly hot, overcrowded and airless as the grave. So there's nothing more disturbing than being trapped with some maniac in headphones who periodically erupts in cackling laughter. But I couldn't help myself: you try keeping quiet while listening to Al Franken reading from his book Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot. Especially the introduction, in which Franken describes ex-U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick as "my former lover."

I was sampling the 1996 book not on an audiocassette but on...

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