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Al Franken running for Senate

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Author Topic: Al Franken running for Senate  (Read 80 times)
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« on: February 16, 2007, 02:14:57 am »

Ex-SNL comic Al Franken running for Senate
POSTED: 10:17 a.m. EST, February 15, 2007
Story Highlights• Comedian Al Franken announces bid for U.S. Senate seat
• Radio talk show host hopes to unseat Republican Sen. Norm Coleman
• Franken moved back to home state of Minnesota from New York in 2006
• Franken's political action committee raised money for Democratic candidates

(CNN) -- Outspoken comedian and liberal radio host Al Franken announced Wednesday that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Minnesota.

On his Web site -- -- the NBC "Saturday Night Live" veteran said he will vie for the seat now held by Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.

Franken also confirmed that he is running for Senate during his final show on the liberal Air America radio network. He announced last month that he was leaving Air America after his February 14 broadcast.

During his announcement, Franken cited the late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone as his political hero. (Watch Franken announce his candidacy )

Wellstone, who first won election to the senate in 1990, died in a plane crash shortly before the 2002 elections. Coleman was elected to take his place.

Franken has been a commentator on Air America Radio -- a liberal response to conservative talk radio. He has written several books, including "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot" and "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them." (Other famous faces turned politicos)

"I'm not a typical politician," Franken said in an 8½ minute video message on his Web site. "I've spent my career as a comedian. Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical about whether I'm ready for this challenge, and to wonder how seriously I would take the responsibility that I'm asking you to give me."

Franken said he takes such issues seriously because of his background -- growing up in a working-class family that moved from New Jersey to Minnesota when he was 4 years old -- and his wife's family background -- she grew up with a widowed mother and four siblings who lived on Social Security survivor's benefits.

"That's what progressives like me believe the government is there for," he said. "To provide security for middle-class families like the one I grew up in, and opportunity for working poor families like the one [my wife] grew up in."

Franken has said previously that he was considering a bid to unseat Coleman, a moderate Republican and former St. Paul mayor who was elected to the Senate in 2002. During the 2006 midterm election, Franken's political action committee, the Midwest Values PAC, raised money for Democratic candidates across the North Star State.

The Bush administration courted Coleman to run for the Senate. But as the Iraq war has become increasingly unpopular, Coleman has distanced himself from the president. Last month, Coleman became one of a group of GOP senators who came out against Bush's plan to increase U.S. troops in Iraq by more than 20,000.

Franken will be running as a member of Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor party. He is the second celebrity in the past decade to seek political office in Minnesota. In 1999, former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura, representing the Reform Party, defeated Coleman and Attorney General Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III to become governor of the state, serving, as promised, one term.

Franken is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in government. He met his wife, Franni, at a college mixer. They have two children, Thomasin and Joe.

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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2007, 02:19:49 am »

Vote for Me, Al Franken
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007 By RICHARD CORLISS
Comedian Al Franken is framed by the Seal of the State of Minnesota as he talks to a guest on his radio show on Air America before announcing he will run for U.S. Senate in 2008 in Minnesota, February 14, 2007.

In Illinois a week before the 2000 election, Franken joked that "It would be much easier for me as a comedian to have Bush as President. It would be a gold mine."

Well, Bush's presidency did change Franken's career. It made him a best-selling author, of Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (a book whose subtitle cued Fox News to sue him, unsuccessfully of course, for appropriating the channel's catchphrase) and The Truth, With Jokes. In 2004 his passion to mobilize progressives against Bush's war, and for the election of a Democratic President, landed him the job as host of a daily, three-hour talk show on the new liberal network Air America Radio, where — for a time, and in a few markets, among certain demographics — he got higher ratings than Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.

Now, at 55, the cum-laude graduate of Harvard, longtime cast member-writer on Saturday Night Live and co-author of the alcohol-horror movie When a Man Loves a Woman thinks he's good enough and smart enough — and doggone it, enough people like him — to be the next U.S. Senator from Minnesota. On his final Al Franken Show, he announced that he is running to reclaim the seat that Sen. Paul Wellstone lost when he, his wife and daughter were killed in a plane crash two weeks before the 2002 election, and which was won by Republican Norm Coleman. The New York City-born Franken, whose parents moved to the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park when he was four, has long honed his campaign slogan against Coleman: "I'm the New York Jew who actually grew up in Minnesota."

Regular listeners (and I'm one of them) had expected this announcement for more than a year. There was a time, early in his move from Manhattan to Minnesota last January, when he was interviewing every progressive candidate in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. ("If elected, I promise not just to catch dogs but to care for them.") Lately, we knew Franken was serious about running because, when guests would start dissing Coleman on the air, he would change the subject. He knew that FCC laws forbid a declared candidate from having his own radio show.

In the last segment of his last show, Franken made it official. "I've decided to move on to another challenge... I'll be running in 2008 for Paul's seat." With an artful blend of humility and pride, he said, "I know I have an awful lot to learn from the people of Minnesota." Sounding a tad like Stuart Smalley, Franken said he was running "to help our country become everything I hope it can be and everything I know it can be."

In a way, Franken has been running for office since the late 70s, when he would appear on SNL's Weekend Update segment and announced, "Vote for me, Al Franken. You'll be glad you did!" In his possibly ironic role as a relentless self-promoter, he proclaimed the 1980s "the Al Franken Decade." In 1999 he published Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency, the myopically prophetic account of how he won the 2000 election and shortly thereafter lost the presidency (though his attempt to personally kill Saddam Hussein sounds like a natural poll-gooser, doesn't it?).

Franken could have made millions more writing books and giving speeches than he did as a talk-show host — especially for a network that often didn't pay his back salary. But he had been startled to learn that 21% of Americans got most of their news from talk radio, which at the time was overwhelmingly right-wing. "I didn't want to sit on the sidelines," he said today, "and I believed Air America could make a difference.",8599,1590138,00.html?cnn=yes

Comedian Al Franken is framed by the Seal of the State of Minnesota as he talks to a guest on his radio show on Air America before announcing he will run for U.S. Senate in 2008 in Minnesota, February 14, 2007.

On his first Air America show, Franken said of Bush, "He is going down." He and the network's other staffers became an arm of the Democratic National Committee, air-brushing John Kerry's defects as a campaigner and treating their ideological ally Ralph Nader as a war criminal for daring to run again. Air America didn't elect Kerry. Nor could it keep from losing two important stations in its first weeks and, two-and-a-half years into its existence, declaring bankruptcy. But the network survived, with Franken as its marquee name, Randi Rhodes as its brassy afternoon attention-getter and the nonpareil Rachel Maddow offering a beguiling version of Democracy Now with animal sound effects.

Franken fancies himself, apparently, as a singing comic. He'd warble a soulful "Misty" for Christy Harvey of the Center for American Progress; croak a version of "Bad to the Bone" for "resident ethicist" Melanie Sloan; shriek "Born in the USA" for Norm Ornstein, the lonely liberal at the American Enterprise Institute; play the "Little Elephant March" from Hatari for Washington insider Tom Oliphant. They and a few others — Joe Conason, David Brock, Lawrence O'Donnell, David Sirota — became Franken's daily or weekly regulars, his cabinet, his think tank. If the show occasionally droned, it provided high-calorie, factual information.

Indeed, in its three-year life the show has gone from heavy on the comedy to nearly banishing it. He might refer to Ornstein as "the wonkiest wonk in wonkdom," but Franken was in the top 10. He might use Grateful Dead clips as his bumper music, but in the last months his favorite sound bite has been William Kristol's comment, on Apr. 1, 2003, dismissing the "pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shi'a can't get along with the Sunni, and the Shi'a in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular." He must have run that clip 50 times, and with each playing he summoned new reserves of outrage.

At the end he could crack a joke. When Conason mentioned that columnist Dorothy Thompson was thrown out of Germany in 1935 for criticizing the Third Reich, Al ad-libbed: "You know what was her sin there: she compared Hitler to Hitler." But now he has to watch his mouth — and what has come out of it the past 32 years of his public life.

For his arrival as a candidate has been long anticipated — especially by those ready to nail him, to link, say, al-Qaeda and al Franken. Today, Conason said, "I'm sure there's a catalog of jokes" that his enemies were waiting to spring on him. (Franken mentioned one: his faux-ignorant observation a few years ago on John McCain's half-decade in Viet Cong captivity: "I mean anyone can get captured. Isn't the idea to capture the other guy?") Franken has to hope that the state that nurtured Garrison Keillor, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the Coen brothers knows both how to take a joke and when somebody is telling one.

But they also have to get used to Franken's tears. The guy can be simultaneously tough and soft; you could call him a prickly sentimentalist. The other day he sobbed softly as he read the lyrics to American Soldier, by Dixie Chicks tormenter Toby Keith. While denouncing U.S. policy on Iraq, he has been a firm supporter of U.S. troops in Iraq. "As far as I know," he said today, "we were the first in the media to champion Operation provide helmet liners to our Marines" — an effort that "saved lives and brains." He has often misted up when discussing the troops he has entertained and learned from on one of his seven USO tours to Iraq since 2003.

In a speech on his already-purring campaign website (, the new candidate says, "I talked to Minnesotans and listened. They told me that they're sick of politics as usual — and they're sick of the usual politicians." Enter the clown, who's ready to play not Hamlet but Disraeli.

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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2007, 10:50:01 am »

 Grin Cheesy
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2007, 12:42:08 pm »

It's enough to make me want to move to Minnesota!  I want to vote for Al Franken.  I've wanted to ever since he first said "Vote for me, Al Franken.." on SNL.
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Thus ye may find in thy mental and spiritual self, ye can make thyself just as happy or just as miserable as ye like. How miserable do ye want to be?......For you GROW to heaven, you don't GO to heaven. It is within thine own conscience that ye grow there.

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