Al Franken has come out with his new book, Giant Of The Senate, where the senator from Minnesota spoke about President Donald Trump, what is going on with the Republicans and his all-time favorite thing to do: bust liars.
When people think of how unlikely that the millionaire property developer, reality star Donald Trump became president, many could say the same about Al Franken. Franken was a comedian and writer on Saturday Night Live, yet always had a real passion for politics.
Both men have a lot of television experience and have the unique ability to capture the attention of a crowd with wit. In fact, in this modern world of social media and YouTube, Franken may be the only qualified candidate to run against the television savvy Trump.
But how did Franken get into politics?
Alan Stuart Franken grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. This is the small, creative community that produced Joel and Ethan Cohen, the brother director/writing team, and songwriter Dan Wilson, who penned Grammy winning songs for the Dixie Chicks and Adele. But this is also the hometown of award-winning political journalist Thomas Friedman, and grew up in the era of two great Minnesota politicians, who both became vice-president, but lost their own presidential bids, Hubert H. Humphrey and Walter Mondale. It is no surprise that Franken wound up becoming an eclectic mix of entertainment and serious politics.
Although he was interested in politics at Blake, his prestigious high school, Franken also met his comedy partner, the late Tom Davis, there. Comedy won out over politics, and eventually the duo headed to New York City and became the original writers for Saturday Night Live between 1975-1980. In 1993, they had a memorable cameo in the highly successful Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd movie, Trading Places. Some could say that this movie, with the lying, racist Wall Street investors making a single dollar bet, is still highly relevant even 34 years later.
Then, in 1985 they returned back to SNL with Lorne Michael, where for a decade, they successfully brought the ratings up and returned the NBC show back to its former glory. This is a guy that wants to work and improve things. No one can criticize him for that.
After the stint, Franken returned to SNL, solo, as Stuart Smalley, who had the positive punchline “Because I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” Perhaps all of these affirmations have come true, as Senator Elizabeth Warren explained that everyone loves Al.
“Many people love Al because he’s funny. I love him because he’s wonky.”
The Harvard-educated, former SNL writer and actor, Al Franken admits he is now a respected senator. That is except for Elizabeth Warren, who is equally surprised she is at her current position. Senator Warren told Rolling Stone that they both look at each other and wonder how the heck they ever got to Washington!
“Did Franken tell you our running joke? The day I’m sworn in, I’m all excited. And Al sits down next to me and says, ‘OK, which one of us is the least-probable United States senator?’ And since then we’ve had this running thing, back and forth, where we’ll point to different aspects of our lives that would make us incredibly improbable candidates to ever win a Senate seat.”
In his new book, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, the junior senator from Minnesota explains the essence of why he loves comedy and loves politics.
“If I’m being honest my favorite part was always busting liars.”
This may not be so much of a surprise for readers of one of Franken’s pre-political career books, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. It should also be mentioned that over 15 years ago, he started the O’Franken Factor, progressive radio show, set up just to keep George W. Bush from being reelected. Daily on the radio, Franken openly relished busting liars.
Does Franken believe that American politics can be saved? He says it comes down to just one thing.
“But I really think that if we don’t start caring about whether people tell the truth or not, it’s going to be literally impossible to restore anything approaching a reasonable political discourse.”
He believes that if Americans don’t care who is telling the truth, then it will be impossible to work together and get anything done, because “Politicians have always shaded the truth. But if you can say something that is provably false, and no one cares, then you can’t have a real debate about anything.”
So does this mean that Democrat Franken mocks the other side of the aisle? Not exactly. He told Rolling Stone that Republicans “are afraid of what Trump is doing and who Trump is and the way all of this is getting out of control, but also afraid of their base, which seems to be sticking with him. They don’t want to be primaried, so they have a very odd row to hoe.”
Franken feels for his Republican counterparts. They are unable to speak up, for fear of the voters who cling to the unpredictable Trump. Yet, when asked about Donald Trump being elected president, he refuses to look back at regret. Instead, he is happy to be where he is at now. He says that now the progressives are more united. Most of all, he feels what he does is more important than ever.
“I feel like it makes my being here that much more essential.”
Yet, according to Salon, one full chapter is devoted to Ted Cruz, one of the most despised Republicans. Franken describes him as the “toxic guy in an office, the guy who microwaves fish.” Although Franken can work with most Republicans, such as Jeff Sessions, Cruz is pretty impossible to work with. He hinted that perhaps this is why nothing is getting done in Washington these days.
“He’s the exception that proves the rule, and the rule is that in order to get things done you’ve got to be a good colleague,”
Al Franken returns back to Minnesota often, and Rolling Stone was there when the senator met up with his constituents. He met a 100-year-old woman who was afraid that Donald Trump was going to take away her Meals On Wheels. Franken was embarrassed that anyone would want to take away the meals of a generation that saved the world.
“On behalf of the mediocre generation, I’d like to thank the greatest generation for saving the world.”
Without missing a beat, she replied, “You’re welcome,” which amused him to no end.
She also asked him if he was running for president. Although he gave her a negative answer, pointing out that he was running for reelection in 2020, perhaps she gave him a bit of a nudge to consider his own presidential bid?
Have you been following the career of Al Franken? Do you want him to run for president, or should he continue to fight along with progressives in the senate? Share your comments below.
[Featured Image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM]