Al Franken, Senator

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The Truth (with jokes)
“The Truth (with jokes)” (Al Franken)

Sort of sad that the Minnesota Republicans can only criticize Al Franken for his jokes and not for his liberal politics. There are more substantial policy issues after all, yet it sounds like jokes are all the Minnesota Republicans are going to focus upon. I wonder if their assumption about Minnesotans being uptight is still accurate. For that matter, what I've heard of Al Franken, he isn't necessarily a vulgar jokester, more of a sardonic quipster. He isn't Bob Saget for pasta-sakes. Why do politicians always have to be so freakin' boring? Why not Al Franken - at least he has a good role model, Senator Paul Wellstone.

Heard the One About Al Franken, Senate Candidate? -
MINNEAPOLIS -- A man walks into a political campaign and calls his opponent for high public office the president's lackey -- no, actually, he says something cruder, more insulting.

Could that help decide which party controls the U.S. Senate?

The man is Al Franken, the 56-year-old former “Saturday Night Live” comedian and the bane of conservative talk-radio. The campaign is for the Senate seat now held by Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman.

And the question is no joke. Mr. Coleman is widely considered one of the Senate's most vulnerable members. His defeat would help secure the Democrats' control of the closely divided Senate.

Mr. Franken still needs to win the Democratic nomination before he can face Mr. Coleman. But with 15 months to go before the general election, he's competitive in the opinion polls. He has raised more money than Mr. Coleman has, with the help of contributors including comedians Dan Aykroyd and Robin Williams and cartoonist Garry Trudeau. His $3.3 million war chest puts him among the year's top congressional fund-raisers.

But in a 30-year comedy career, much of Mr. Franken's humor has been bawdy and crude -- not the tight-lipped chuckles that Minnesotans tend to favor, says University of Minnesota political scientist Lawrence Jacobs.

Mr. Franken is known for “the kind of trash talk and potty mouth that people find offensive,” he adds. “I can imagine a whole line of attack ads,” Mr. Jacobs says, and “all of a sudden, the challenger is on the defensive.”

Mr. Franken has a ready response. “People should give Minnesotans credit for knowing what a joke is and what it isn't,” he says before launching into examples of what a joke isn't, including the Iraq war, veterans' care and congressional earmarks.

In Mr. Franken's defense (not that he really needs it), events turned him partisan:

Mr. Franken says his humor was political but nonpartisan during the 15 years he wrote for “Saturday Night Live.” That changed in 1995, he says, when the Republicans began to pare funding for social programs while also portraying themselves as the party of family values.

His response was to write a string of books -- starting with “Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot” -- that relentlessly needled Republican Party luminaries and conservative talk-radio. He signed on as a talk-show host on the liberal Air America radio network, where he honed his outrage. He left that gig in February.

Two years ago, he began planning a run for the Senate seat that Mr. Coleman won in 2002 after the death, in a plane crash, of Mr. Franken's political idol, Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone. Mr. Franken moved from New York to Minneapolis where he had grown up as the son of a printing salesman, and spent a year headlining local-level party events.

He now runs his campaign from his downtown Minneapolis house. A billboard across the street advertises conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity, who is a regular object of Mr. Franken's scorn.

Mr. Franken's chances of winning Mr. Coleman's seat are helped by the revival of the Democrats' liberal base, whose politics neatly mirror his own. He is also helped by Mr. Coleman's support for the Iraq war and for President Bush, who headlined a Coleman fund-raiser last month.

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The WSJ tries to come up with some examples of Franken's sharp tongue, but the best they can find (or print) are:

Franken quotes included in a March 2007 press briefing put out by the Minnesota Republican party. “Let me ask you ... Isn't George Bush a dink?'”

“The Democratic National Committee is coming up with a novel way to raise money. For $50,000 you can get a waltz with the first lady. For $25,000, you can dance a tango with Tipper. And for $25, the attorney general will come to your table and do a lap dance.”

From Mr. Franken's 2005 book, “The Truth (With Jokes)” “Minnesota Republican Norman Coleman is one of the administration's leading butt boys.” “Republicans are shameless d**ks. No, that's not fair. Republican politicians are shameless d**ks.”

From Mr. Franken's 2003 book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” “But you know, I don't want to get into a whole partisan politics thing here. Not in this book, anyway. We'll leave that for my next book, I F***ing Hate Those Right-Wing Motherf***ers!, due out in October 2004.” p115

From a satirical letter from Mr. Franken to Attorney General, sent in June 2003. Mr. Franken later apologized for the letter. “Don't be afraid to share a moment when you were tempted to have sex, but were able to overcome your urges through willpower and strength of character. Be funny! Did a woman ever think you were homosexual because you wouldn't have sex with her?... I hope you can find time to inspire the next generation of sex-free leaders.”

From Mr. Frankens's 1994 White House Correspondents' Dinner speech “..the President's three strikes and you're out proposal. Which means different things to different people. To Pat Buchanan it means to put a Nazi war criminal away he had to be a guard at three separate camps.”

“The Vice President continued to prove his commitment to the environment yesterday, when he agreed to change the policy on the stick up his butt. Evidently, instead of replacing the stick every day with a new one, he's going to keep the same stick there throughout the administration. And if they get re-elected in '96, that will save an entire rain forest.”

“I admire the Vice President tremendously. I mean his advocacy of the Information Superhighway. Which again means different things to different people. To Al Gore it means unemployed aerospace workers accessing a video classroom to retrain themselves for the conversion from a cold war economy to an information economy. To Clarence Thomas it means twenty-four hour a day pornography.”

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also, note how half of these jokes are aimed at Democrats.

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on September 7, 2007 8:20 AM.

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