Al Franken

Even now that Al Franken is a Minnesota senator, it's hard to imagine him somehow as a local boy. He has a distinctly East Coast air—a product of Harvard and New York—that belies his Minnesota upbringing: raised in St. Louis Park, Blake School grad, a comedy veteran of Brave New Workshop. But Dylan, Prince, and Jesse Ventura hardly seem Minnesotan, and we accept them as our own. Like them, Al Franken has made good indeed, by taking one of the oddest paths to Congress since Sonny Bono. As a Senate rookie, he has downplayed his comic and satiric roots (Saturday Night Live, Air America Radio, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big, Fat Idiot). At the same time, he is proving himself a worthy heir to the colorful progressives like Eugene McCarthy and Paul Wellstone that Minnesota has chosen to represent us. Franken is nowhere near the firebrand Wellstone was, saving his heat for backroom dressings-down of White House advisers and ambush interviewers. But he is not one to shrink from ground-up leadership, and he has already authored or co-authored a couple of bills voted into law, including the widely praised Service Dogs for Veterans Act and another that prohibits the government from using defense contractors that won't allow employees to take sexual assault grievances to court. According to a Washington Post profile, Franken excels at cussing, too, which to our mind only burnishes his reputation as a senator.


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