BEST DAD (2001)
With names like Freeman, Mondale, and Humphrey, Minnesota politics has no shortage of touching father-son moments. But perhaps the most inspiring example of a father's love came last year from then-U.S. Sen. Rod Grams. His son Morgan had been busted in July 1999 for driving a rental car that held, among other things, a pile of empty and unopened beer cans and ten small bags of marijuana. The senator's son waved an old U.S. Senate pass he had left over from his days as a teenage page and got a ride home with one of the officers. (He eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession.) To clear any doubt of preferential treatment when the story surfaced four months later, Dad issued a statement saying his son had done time in the past, and this time Morgan would have to go it alone: "I never tried to get between him and the law before, and I won't do it now. I've told him that anything he has done, he has to be accountable for." (Never mind that it was a call from the senator himself that prompted Anoka County sheriffs to search for Morgan.) Flash forward to September 2000: With election season in full swing and Dad's poll numbers on the decline, Morgan Grams is arrested again--in a stolen car in New Mexico. This time Grams père, who has been running a family-values based campaign against his DFL foes, assumes a more protective stance toward his wayward son. "I mean, he's got problems that we have to deal with, but dealing with those problems has been much harder because of the press coverage," says the senator. "It's hurt him." Grams the elder went on to lose his bid for reelection--but not this honor, suitable for framing.