Al Franken’s moment of backsliding…

August 6, 2010

It was one of those moments Al Franken seems to work hard to suppress.

The comedian-turned-politician has kept a mostly straight face through his first year as a senator — listening seriously to hours of committee testimony and posing pointed questions with only the flicker of a smile crossing his face.
Thursday’s Senate debate over Elena Kagan was evidently too much for the clown in him to bear.

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell argued that Kagan was too inexperienced and political to be confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court, Franken couldn’t contain himself.

The liberal Democrat from Minnesota, who was presiding over the Senate at the time, rolled his eyes, let out his breath and finally began to shake his head, a Senate Republican aide said.

He swiveled his head from side to side, threw his head back and showed other signs displeasure during McConnell’s 10-minute speech, the aide said.

McConnell was distracted enough by Franken’s behavior that he approached the Senate dais afterward to complain to him privately.

“This isn’t ‘Saturday Night Live’ Al,” McConnell told him, referring to the NBC television show where Franken worked as a comedy writer for nearly¬† two decades.

Franken went to McConnell’s office as soon as he finished presiding in the Senate.

Not finding McConnell there, Franken sent him a handwritten note of apology.

Josh Holmes, a spokesman for McConnell, said the matter was closed.

“Senator Franken apologized and that’s a perfectly appropriate way of handling the situation.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Al Franken at a hearing in 2009)


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Al was just doing what many other right-minded citizens feel like doing when they see the circus that the Senate has become. The “greatest deliberative body in the world” has become a farce.

Posted by fernack | Report as abusive


While I agree the Senate is a circus, having Senators behave that way makes the situation worse. Im not a fan of his politics but I found his humor funny, just don’t do it on the Senate floor please.

Posted by Trooth | Report as abusive

Senate debates are more often political shows designed to solidify power rather than thoughtful discourse designed to make intelligent decisions. Despite this fact, we don’t need a childish comedy acts from our “leaders”…this only further erodes public confidence. It’s time for Washington to grow up and be genuine. Where are the Lincoln’s of our day?

Posted by actnow | Report as abusive

Franken has stood up for the truth more than the party line since he entered the senate. Imagine having to sit in a session of the senate and listen to the partisan bull@#%$ that prevents anything meaningful from getting done. I dare say that if you got all the past writers and actors form SNL together for a week they could probably get more done to help this country than the congress has under Obama and Bush together. It takes brains to be a comedian but any idiot can be a politician.

Posted by emh | Report as abusive