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Al Franken's Ted Cruz story is perfect

No one likes Ted Cruz, which means everyone gets to enjoy Al Franken's masterful burn.

No one likes Ted Cruz, which means everyone gets to enjoy Al Franken's masterful burn. Associated Press

 Al Franken's new book will make you cry.

Not because it's sad. Because you will wish the viciously smart guy who wrote it could be president, instead of the half-wit we've got.

In fact, Franken's ruling himself out of that game altogether. In an interview released Wednesday, Franken told People Magazine his challenging Donald Trump for president is "not going to happen." (His wife Franni seemed even less open to the idea.)

Instead, Minnesotans will have to take pride in Franken as the sharpest barb in the administration's side, and one of the best wits in the U.S. Senate. 

That Franken and GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) clash is well known. (Watch here to see Franken handing Cruz his ass, in absentia.) Franken put it plainly in an interview with USA Today earlier this week: "I like Ted Cruz probably more than my colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz."

Ouch. Cruz also gets a lot of ink in Al's new book, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, with an entire chapter (entitled "Sophistry") dedicated to the junior senator from Texas. We're especially fond of an anecdote that's already getting recognition for justice served upon the "exceptionally smarmy" Cruz. 

This story's got it all: DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar being wishy-washy, and too damn nice for her own good; Senator Smugface playing the part of a condescending blowhard; Franken's (and the reader's) increasing frustration with the scene, before Al puts Cruz in his place -- namely, at the butt of the joke.

The moment occurred before the annual "Gridiron Club" dinner, a chummy, elbows-rubbing affair where politicians crack wise about each other. That's all the context you need. Take it away, Amy, Ted, and Al.

 

“Ted,” Amy smiled. “I’ve written a joke about you for the Gridiron, and I wanted to get your okay.”
“Sure, Ted smiled back. “What’s the joke?”
“Well,” Amy smiled, “here it is: ‘When most people think of a difficult cruise, they think of Carnival. But we Democrats in the Senate think of Ted.’”
I noticed, of course, that she had softened the joke a bit, changing “a bad cruise” to “a difficult cruise” and changing “we think of Ted” to “we Democrats in the Senate think of Ted.”
Ted smiled. Then he offered a suggestion. “What if you changed ‘a difficult cruise’ to ‘a challenging cruise’?”
Oh my God. What a putz! Now the joke isn’t funny. I could tell that Amy was thinking the same thing. And so could Ted. So before Amy could respond, he smiled even more broadly and said magnanimously, “I’ll tell you what. I believe in the First Amendment. You go ahead and tell your joke.”
Wow, that was patronizing! I decided to step in.
“Say, Ted,” I smiled. “I did a rewrite of Amy’s joke, and I think it’s a lot better. Want to hear it?”
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Amy having two successive thoughts:
1. “Oh no—Al’s not going to do this!”
2. “But I definitely want to be here if he does.”
Ted was still smiling. “Sure!”
“Okay. Here it is: ‘When most people think of a cruise that’s full of shit, they think of Carnival. But we think of Ted.”
And there went Ted’s smile. For once, he had no words.
I nodded, turned around, and walked away.