Lehrer feels that it is not possible to induce insightful soul searching through humor. "To make [listeners] laugh they have to be somehow insulated and believe that the target is other people, not them. It's mostly about them, whoever the them are." Lehrer's favorite example of this is his song "Wernher von Braun", which is about the divorce of ethics from science. Over the years, Lehrer has "been amused at the number of scientists who have enjoyed the song without realizing it was about them." Lehrer himself hid behind this insulation when he was writing songs. "I'm thinking it's the other guy. I'm thinking 'I'm a good wonderful person, I don't pollute the water.' There's always some rationalization about it that lets you out."
I've always gotten a chuckle out of the people who think that "Kill Americans" isn't about them, myself.