Al Franken

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Al Franken
Al franken senate.jpg
U.S. Senator from Minnesota
From: July 7, 2009 – Present
PredecessorNorm Coleman
SuccessorIncumbent (no successor)
Information
Party Democrat (DFL)
Spouse(s) Franni Bryson Franken
Religion Judaism

Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (born May 21, 1951), a liberal Democrat and former satirist and comedian known for his attacks against Republicans and Conservatives, is the junior U.S. Senator from Minnesota. He was declared the winner after purportedly obtaining a slim majority of the votes. The Minnesota Supreme Court rejected the last legal challenges from his opponent, Norm Coleman, who conceded.

After all the court appeals the Republican governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, signed the certificate of election for Franken and he took office July 6, 2009, for a six year term. Franken's win gave Democrats a 58-40-2 margin in the Senate, enough to shut off filibusters if the 58, along with two Independents who caucus with the Democrats, hang together.

Fraudulent Election?

The recount that turned Al Franken into a U.S. Senator may have been decided by convicted felons who voted illegally in Minnesota's Twin Cities it was announced in July, 2010. In a study conducted by Minnesota Majority, a conservative watchdog group, found that at least 341 convicted felons in largely Democratic Minneapolis-St. Paul voted illegally in the 2008 Senate race. The final recount vote in the race, determined six months after Election Day, showed Franken beat Coleman by 312 votes -- fewer votes than the number of felons whose illegal ballots were counted, according to the newly released study, which matched publicly available conviction lists with voting records. The group took the voting lists and matched them with conviction lists and then went to the voting roster lists, where voters sign in before going to the voting booth, and matched them by hand. [1]


Ann Coulter said,

He stole the 2008 election in Minnesota, going from a thousand votes down the day after the election to 300 votes up a few months later, after vast numbers of Franken votes kept being discovered in heavily Democratic districts. As economist John Lott pointed out at the time, the magically appearing votes for Franken were a statistical impossibility. [6]


Contents


Career

Franken was born in New York City, and spent several years while growing up in St Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis. Until he decided to run for the Senate, he lived in California and New York all of his adult life. [2]

Franken was a bit player on Saturday Night Live for nearly two decades, starting in 1979.[3] Unlike many other SNL performers (such as Dan Akroyd, Chevy Chase, Mike Myers, Tina Fey or Steve Martin) he was unable to parlay his time into a successful movie or film career. His one starring film role was in the 1995 movie Stuart Saves His Family, which was a commercial and critical disaster. The film is certified "rotten" on the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes, scoring just 28% positive.[4]

Policies

Franken has been deliberately vague about his position on all major policy issues--except on Iraq, where he reversed himself 180 degrees under intense pressure from the left in Minnesota.

Iraq

In the 2008 campaign Franken emphasized his strong opposition to President Bush's policies in Iraq. However he is a relatively recent convert to the conviction that the U.S. should immediately pull out of Iraq. Back in 2003 when the country debated the war, Franken supported intervention. He repeatedly visited Iraq to entertain troops, and came to admire them. By 2006 he argued Bush's handling of the war was incompetent, but as late as June 2006 agreed with Bush in opposing a timeline for withdrawal. Pushed by the anti-war left in Minnesota, Franken in late 2006 finally declared his opposition. [5]

Vulgar satire

His career was as a rather vulgar satirist, comedian, and former radio host for the Air America network. Franken has worked as a comedy writer and performer on the television program Saturday Night Live and was the star and screenwriter of the motion picture Stuart Saves His Family. Franken has also written for Playboy magazine, a pornographic publication, although his supporters and the media often skip over that when they talk about him.

Within six months of leaving Air America to assume his Senate duties, the liberal slanted radio network Franken had been with since its founding filed for bankruptcy due to declining listenership, ad revenue, and the unwillingness of investors to absorb further losses. [6]

Style

Franken is known for his anti-conservative hate speak (he has called them "nasty, hateful people" [7]) and his coarse humor. He once quipped to the Harvard Crimson, "I dislike homosexuals. I was glad when that [Harvard] homosexual got killed." [8] [9] [10] In his book Lying Liars, Franken wrote that a "Methodist minister had had his head up his %#@" in a dispute about the Bible "Do you know what God’s punishment is for liars?" [the minister] asked me ... "God’s punishment for liars is that they believe their own lies." The minister was referring to 2 Thess 2:10-12 which says substantially that. Franken acknowledged his mistake in the paperback version.

At one point his radio show was going to be called "The Liberal Show". [11] but upon debut, it was known as "The O'Franken Factor," a name Franken chose to parody Bill O'Reilly and taunt him into a lawsuit, getting his show free publicity.[12] When the lawsuit failed to materialize, the show was renamed "The Al Franken Show."

2008 election

In the 2008 election campaign, Franken's rudeness, vulgarity, and coarse style led critics to ask about whether he alienated himself from the important undecided swing voters[13][14]. Franken was under fire for an interview he did in Playboy magazine that was considered by many to be unbecoming for a senatorial candidate[15]

The election was very close, with multiple recounts and appeals. On January 5, 2009, the Minnesota election board declared Franken the winner by a razor-thin 225 votes. Coleman filed a lawsuit, which by state law had to be resolved before Franken could be seated. [16] He was seated July 7th, 2009, upon which the Wall Street Journal proclaimed that "Mr. Franken now goes to the Senate having effectively stolen an election." [17] [18]

Controversial Statements

On Franken's website there is the admonition "Anybody who deliberately propagandizes with lies should be held up to scorn and ridicule"[19]. Throughout his books he has held himself to "impossibly high standards" to tell the truth about those he has written about. Author Alan Skorski researched two of Franken's books (Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them) and found an extensive pattern of lies, misstatements, factual inaccuracies, among them:

  • Accusing Ann Coulter of "lying with footnotes" by "citing a source and misrepresenting what it says"; throughout his book Skorski states that Franken has done exactly that on numerous occasions (Skorski, pg. xiii)
  • Accusing President George W. Bush of treason
  • The collision between Bush foreign policy advisor Richard Armitage and news reporter Helen Thomas, which Franken had claimed broke both her hip and jaw (Lying Liars, pg 218), but which Thomas herself said never happened (Skorski, pg 208). After this came to light, Franken later added a footnote in the paperback version of the book saying, "The Helen Thomas thing is a joke."[20]
  • Franken stated he is "often compared to Rush Limbaugh" when on the air, despite the fact that by the time he left his Air America show to run for the U.S. Senate, his radio network was reduced to just over 40 market stations as a result of severely-low ratings and ultimately bankruptcy. Limbaugh, by comparison, plays on more than 600 stations with an average daily listening audience of 22 million (Skorski, pg 303).
  • Franken claimed on his radio show (June 1, 2005) that Rush Limbaugh made up a quotation supposedly said by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which claimed Ginsburg said "replacing 'Mother's Day' and 'Father's Day' with a 'Parent's Day' should be considered...". Skorski did a Google check on Ginsburg and discovered a May 20, 2005 column from the National Review titled "Bench Warmers, Putting Judicial Nominees in Perspective, Part III"; this column cited a September, 1974 article written by Ginsburg which advocated for the creation of a "Parent's Day" to replace both Mother's and Father's Days.
  • Franken claimed John Murphy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was lying when he took a pro-CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) position on PBS's Lehrer Report (July 27, 2005) stating "we've seen unemployment fall to 5.0 percent today, which is lower than it's been in decades." [21]. Skorski demonstrated that Franken took the unemployment figures under the Clinton Administration by the month (rather than by the year as the Bureau of Labor Statistics does) and willfully distorted them to make it appear that it was Murphy who was lying (Skorski, pg. 77-78).

Quotes

  • Republicans are shameless d**ks. No, that's not fair. Republican politicians are shameless d**ks. [22]
  • "Nobody likes getting an abortion. Except perhaps, rape victims." [23]
  • Of how big an a-s Brit Hume is, and how shamless, how f*cking shamless these people are, these people are so f*cking shamless." [24]
  • "Ever tempted to run for office yourself?" Franken replied, "Oh, no! First of all, if I took one vote away from a serious candidate, it would be a sin." [25]
  • "If I put myself on the ballot and even 50 people voted for me, it would be a travesty." [26]
  • "It's not preppies, cause I'm a preppie myself. I just don't like homosexuals. If you ask me, they're all homosexuals in the Pudding. Hey, I was glad when that Pudding homosexual got killed in Philadelphia." [27]
  • "The shocking thing about crack is how fast the addiction runs its course. It's not unusual for alcoholics to take 20 or 30 years to hit bottom. Cocaine addicts take maybe a couple of years. Crack, a form of cocaine, usually is a matter of months. The Reagan Administration has been the crack of our nation's debt addiction. And Ronald Reagan, the crack dealer." [28]
  • "In an odd way, I blame Linda Tripp and Ann Coulter for Sept. 11, because if they hadn't dug this stuff up, it may not have happened," Franken on-air comment following separate interviews about 'wagging the dog,' a reference to conservative accusations that Clinton diverted attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal by launching attacks on terrorists. [29]
  • "I think, for example, under god probably shouldn't be in the pledge of allegiance, it wasn't put in there since, like the 50's, but it's not that big a deal to me. In god we trust probably shouldn't be on the coin. I don't care." [30]

Playboy Article

In 2000, Al Franken's comments appeared in a Playboy article titled "Porn-O-Rama!" He was quoted as saying that the Internet is a great tool for learning and that his 12 year old son was able to do a report on bestiality for a sixth-grade assignment.

Minnesota embarrassment (in purportedly fake photo)

Tax Issues

During his 2008 campaign, it was discovered that Franken had not paid state taxes in 17 states he earned money over the last four years. Franken blamed it on his accountant saying "This all really comes from one mistake, which is him not understanding that I was supposed to pay state taxes in these other states." Franken says he will pay those states now, plus interest and penalties for a total of $70,000. [31] As of March, 2009, Franken had failed to supply proof that the arrears in taxes had been paid.

United States Senate

Franken was sworn in to the Senate on July 7, 2009, and is currently ranked 99th in seniority. To much surprise, a Septemeber 14, 2009 Senate AMDT. 2355 prohibiting use of funds to fund the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Franken voted with the winning majority to strip ACORN funding. [32] This after having received ACORN support in his Senate election campaign, "I'm thrilled and honored to receive this endorsement," and "more motivated than ever to work with ACORN." [33]

Books by Franken

  • I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me! (Dell Books, 1992) (in character as Stuart Smalley)
  • Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot (Delacorte Press, 1996) (a satirical book of personal attacks on Rush Limbaugh as well as other conservatives.)
  • Why Not Me? (Delacorte Press, 1999) (a parody-journal kept through the fictional "Franken for President" campaign)
  • Oh, the Things I know! A Guide to Success, or Failing That, Happiness (Plume Books, 2003)
  • Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (Dutton Books, 2003) (targets conservative commentators and the media, particularly Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity as well as Fox News)
  • The Truth (with jokes) (Dutton Books, 2005) (Franken's view on how George W. Bush beat John Kerry in the 2004 Election with what Al Franken calls the "Fears, Smears, and Queers strategy")

Further reading

See Also

Franken Syndrome

References

  1. Felons Voting Illegally May Have Put Franken Over the Top in Minnesota, Study Finds
  2. Owen Franken, Biography, statement about where Al Franken resided
  3. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0291253/#writer1970
  4. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/stuart_saves_his_family/
  5. Patricia Lopez; Minneapolis Star Tribune, Nov. 30, 2007
  6. http://www.newmediajournal.us/media/01222010.htm
  7. Random House.com
  8. [1]
  9. [2]
  10. [3]
  11. Al Franken, Seriously
  12. Al Franken's liberal radio network comes to Portland
  13. http://www.startribune.com/587/story/1083904.html Star Tribune retrieved 6 April, 2007
  14. Franken’s Senate Race Haunted by 1995 Rape Joke on ‘SNL’ Set
  15. [4] and [5]
  16. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090105/ap_on_el_se/minnesota_senate
  17. Al Franken's Blue Ball; American Spectator, July 2, 2009
  18. When Dems Don’t Have the Votes, Perkins Coie Finds Them - Big Hollywood, May 7, 2009
  19. http://lyingliar.com/index.htm
  20. Franken, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, page 227 of the paperback
  21. http://www.bls.gov/cps/prev_yrs.htm
  22. The Truth (With Jokes) p. 58
  23. The Truth (With Jokes) p. 124
  24. Howard Dean fundrasier, 2003
  25. Time Magazine, 09/01/03
  26. The Oregonian, 02/22/99
  27. The Harvard Crimson, 4/16/76
  28. "Addictions and Mr. Reagan" by Al Franken, The New York Times, 7/19/88
  29. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/7/04
  30. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Rmm5ioINl4
  31. Accountants: Franken's tax problems should have been caught Minnesota Public Radio, May 2, 2008
  32. U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress - 1st Session
  33. Katherine Kersten: Worst trouble with ACORN is at the polls, StarTribune, September 26, 2009

External Links

  • Al Franken at the Internet Movie Database
  • Al Franken at National Public Radio
  • [7] Al Franken engaging in highly unbecoming behavior
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