Al Franken has been a lot of things in his unusual career. A Saturday Night Live writer in the heyday of the "Not Ready For Prime Time Players," he went on to become a performer and sometime actor. But he really hit a nerve when he became an author of Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot, and the absolute perfect Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them) Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Suddenly, the Left was not a meek hippie squawking about Greenpeace: Al was using the intellectual rapier of wit to combat absolute idiocy.
He became the signature of Air America, the radio network that counters the Right's mouthpiece, Fox. I used to listen to his show, via podcast, religiously, as it was not only humorous, and fun, but an absolute taskmaster for the outright lies spewed by the likes of O'Reilly and Ann Coulter. His show was always spot on. I say "was," as he ended it yesterday, after a long success. Why did he end it?
Al Franken is running for the Senate in Minnesota.
Ok, two things you are immediately thinking:
1) This is a joke or a publicity stunt. It's not. Al moved back to Minnesota a couple of years ago, shortly after the death of his friend and the Minn. senator, Paul Wellstone. He carefully considered this for over a year, using his show as a forum to air his decision making process. He knows he can best carry on the ideals Wellstone had by going after his seat in the Congress.
2) Only in Minnesota. Yes, they elected Jesse Ventura as Governor, and as an Independent, no less! Yes, this is Walter Mondale's and Hubert Humphrey's state. They are known for electing wacked out far left candidates, right? Yes, they are, but so is California (Schwarzenegger? Sonny Bono??), and Minnesota seems to be fiercely independent. That is exactly what the Senate needs to not only maintain a Democratic majority, but build on it.
Bottom line is that Al is hardly a slam dunk, even with his popularity and war chest. However, this is a man who has made his living beating up on the blowhards of the Right. Instead of just sitting on his ass and counting the money he makes from that, he's putting his money where his mouth is. He's getting in the game, not as a statement, but as a real movement. His wry intelligence, plain delivery, and honest approach is absolutely what is needed to make a difference, and I, for one, hope to hell he wins.
But you can be assured of one thing of Senator Franken: the floor debates will never be the same again.