Senator Franken draws no laughs but plenty of applause
Al Franken, a big-time comic turned Washington politician, received plenty of applause but no laughs on Tuesday when he finally took his seat as a member of the U.S. Senate.
In fact, one of the few jokes publicly told on Capitol Hill about Franken had the former writer/performer on the popular TV show “Saturday Night Live” as the punchline.
“Senator Franken gave me a few jokes he thought I should share with you, but I didn’t like them, so I’m not going to do it,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid told reporters.
Republican and Democratic senators shook Franken’s hand and gave him a standing ovation after he was sworn in as a member of their chamber — eight months after last November’s election.
Franken took office a week after the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld his razor-thin victory over Republican Norm Coleman.
Reid delivered a preemptive strike against any perception that the new senator will be back on stage as a congressional comic.
“Al Franken is very smart,” Reid, who named the new senator to the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters. ”He’s Harvard-educated. He has written volumes, books.”
One of Franken’s best known books was a 1996 denunciation of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh titled “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.”
Senator Charles Schumer said a subdued Franken received thunderous applause at a weekly luncheon for Senate Democrats. ”He didn’t make jokes. He talked about how he had worked so hard to get here to serve to make people’s lives better.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Franken sworn-in as senator by Vice President Biden)