Al Franken

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Al Franken, while campaigning in Minnesota

Al Franken is a liberal 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 is known for his anti-conservative views (he has called them "nasty, hateful people"[Citation Needed]) and his coarse humor. He once quipped to the Harvard Crimson, "I dislike homosexuals. I was glad when that [Harvard] homosexual got killed." [1][2][3] In his book Lying Liars, Franken wrote that a "Methodist minister had had his head up his %#@" in a dispute about the Bible[4]

At one point his radio show was going to be called "The Liberal Show,[5] 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[6] When the lawsuit failed to materialize, the show was renamed "The Al Franken Show."

Franken ran for a Senate seat in Minnesota in as a Democrat during the 2008 election. Franken's rudeness, vulgarity, and coarse style led to questions about whether or not he alienated himself from the important undecided swing voters[7][8]. Franken was also called under fire for an interview he did in Playboy magazine that was considered by many to be unbecoming for a senatorial candidate[9] Many claimed that the article hurt him in his Congressional run.[10] The election was very close, with incumbent Norm Coleman leading by less than 300 votes. According to Minnesota state law, a statewide recount will now commence. Coleman and his supporters called on Franken to halt the recount and concede, but Franken has refused to do so. Some believe his refusal to concede is because ACORN and others are working on his behalf to manipulate the vote count in his favor. [11] Indeed, the respected Wall Street Journal has noted that the count keeps changing before the recount, and only in Franken's favor. Looking at what is happening in the vote tallying from a mathematical perspective, they find that it is an extreme statistical improbability.[12] Further multiple examples were given where the board overseeing the recount blantly applied different standards for Franken and Coleman, choosing to award Franken votes where similar circumstances for Coleman were denied.[13]

Controversial Statements

On Franken's website there is the admonition "Anybody who deliberately propagandizes with lies should be held up to scorn and ridicule"[14]. 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 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."[15]
  • 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 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." [16]. 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).

Tax Issues

During his Senate campaign in 2008, it was discovered that Al Franken had not paid 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. [17]

Playboy Article

In 2000, Al Franken's comments appeared in Playboy Magazine 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, though the statement was rather tongue in cheek.

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")

References

  1. http://www.gaypatriot.net/2007/01/18/al-frankens-anti-gay-past/
  2. http://lloydletta.blogspot.com/2007/01/al-franken-jokes-about-murder-of-gay.html
  3. http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=112149
  4. "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
  5. Al Franken, Seriously New York Times Magazine
  6. [http://www.kgw.com/business/stories/kgw_033004_biz_progressive_radio.d7edf1d8.html Al Franken's liberal radio network comes to Portland.
  7. http://www.startribune.com/587/story/1083904.html Star Tribune retrieved 6 April, 2007
  8. Franken’s Senate Race Haunted by 1995 Rape Joke on ‘SNL’ Set
  9. http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/franken_playboy/2008/05/29/100040.html?s=al&promo_code=635B-1
  10. http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/Washington_Post_franken/2008/06/18/105702.html
  11. http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/196/18048/
  12. http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/franken_stealing_election/2008/11/12/150391.html?s=al&promo_code=711A-1
  13. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,470892,00.html
  14. http://lyingliar.com/index.htm
  15. Franken, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, page 227 of the paperback
  16. http://www.bls.gov/cps/prev_yrs.htm
  17. Accountants: Franken's tax problems should have been caught Minnesota Public Radio, May 2, 2008

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