When comedian and radio talk show host Al Franken said he might take a stab at running for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Minnesota, I was a little taken aback.
One might ask: “What business does a comedian have in politics?”
Or, “Who would vote for a guy that consistently tells laughable half-truths?” And then I thought about it for a second.
Why not? According to Franken's rationale, actors have been elected to governorships and even the presidency. Why not a comedian? One actor/governor isn't even that good an actor. The jury is still out on his abilities at governing.
Franken is a well-known comedian and satirical writer. A couple of years ago, he got in trouble with Fox News Channel because he subtitled one of his books “A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right” and the arguably conservative channel took offense to his co-opting its catch phrase.
A couple of weeks ago, I listened as a conservative night-time radio talk show host who went around the bend a long time ago called Franken on the carpet for suggesting on “The Late Show with David Letterman” that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby should be executed for their alleged part in the CIA leak scandal.
It's amazing how people with such strong conviction and allegiances to one political party or another, one religious faction or another, one sports team or another, or any other form of zealotry, can so quickly lose their grip on reality and wrap their arms firmly around a big gob of paranoia.
Oh, just because they don't share your devotion, they must be out to get you, huh?
I watched the Franken segment on Letterman, and it's not so much that he suggested the pair of Bush administration advisers be executed, so much as he tossed off a one-liner at the end of a remark about how the investigatory process might all end up. It was a joke! A silly, off-hand comment that few in the audience would not have recognized as such.
For crying out loud, the guy tells jokes for a living. And to boot, he was on a late night talk show, not “Face the Nation.” The book he was peddling was called “The Truth: With Jokes” of all things.
So what if he pokes fun at the current administration. Conservative talk shows disparage Hillary Clinton and by gum it's their prerogative to do so.
I for one, not to disrespect the institution of the U.S. Senate, think a little levity might be welcomed on Capitol Hill. Franken could be the official court jester and at the end of each day's work, read a limerick aloud and satirize the business of the day in a few minutes of standup from the rostrum.
C-Span's ratings would go through the roof.
It would be like watching the English Parliament when they get good and mad at each other and, in a very “respectful” tone, call each other an manner of long, fancy names that don't make sense at first.
And if it weren't so darn boring, more people might pay attention to what those guys and girls up there in Washington, D.C. are doing all the time with our money.
If Franken ever ran for the presidency, Garrison Keillor (also from Minnesota) could take the ticket as his vice-presidential nominee and the both of them could laugh themselves silly on the campaign trail.
Now that would give the right something to talk about.
Michael Davis covers government for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Fridays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .