Al Franken

Minnesota is home to several unique legislators. We can claim the country's first Muslim congressman (Keith Ellison) as well as the nation's flakiest (Michele Bachmann). But Al Franken is our unlikeliest politician. The author, comedian, radio host, and St. Louis Park native fought charges of carpetbagging when he moved back home from New York City to wage a contentious and seemingly endless battle against incumbent Norm Coleman for a U.S. Senate seat. Though the protracted recount and legal machinations threatened to give us all Franken fatigue, the nasal-voiced wonk with the unmistakable laugh has already proven himself. One of the first bills he authored was designed to stop the flow of federal money to government contractors whose insidious fine-print policies prevented employees from filing rape or sexual harassment charges in court (creating a few awkward moments for the 30 male Republican senators who voted against it). Shortly thereafter, Franken pointedly silenced Joe Lieberman during one of the Connecticut senator's many attempts to prolong the health care debate, making for one of the best political YouTube videos of the year. And the man who was Stuart Smalley continues to prove himself a scrapper. A month before passage of the health care bill, Franken famously berated Obama adviser David Axelrod over the White House's lack of leadership on the issue, and he was one of the first senators to support (unsuccessfully) using budget reconciliation to pass the public option. With a freshman-year record like that, Franken has shown that it's his colleagues, both obstructionist Republicans and impotent Democrats, who are the real jokers. Good enough and smart enough, indeed.


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