Franken inspires National Geographic map-drawing competition


We've known for awhile that Sen. Al Franken had the amazing ability to draw the entire United States freehand. He gained particular notoriety for the trick when he performed it live this year at the Minnesota State Fair and Minnesota Public Radio put the clip up online.

Now our senator's sweet skills have inspired a map-drawing competition, pitting senators against each other as they try to draw their own state freehand.

National Geographic sent letters to senators last week asking them to draw a map of their state "from memory" and also point out at least three locations on the map that are important to them. And of course the varying levels of ability required to draw different states (Wyoming gets no excuses) have some senators already complaining.

The friendly competition begins. More from Politico:

Mike Westling, spokesman for Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, the junior senator from the somewhat boxy and not-entirely tricky state of Oregon, wondered if there is cartographer shortage at National Geographic. "I'm not sure we're operating on a level playing field here. It seems like those representing square-shaped states, like Colorado and Wyoming, have an unfair advantage," he said. "And of course, we'll all be waiting with anticipation to see if Sen. Begich can accurately depict every one of the Aleutian Islands." Begich's office responded: "I appreciate Sen. Merkley's faith in my topographic knowledge and artistic talents. I applaud National Geographic's efforts to encourage students to study geography, and I hear that they are in development of a new educational game. Yes, that's right. The Alcan Trail, when released, would certainly overtake its predecessor, The Oregon Trail, in popularity." These senators shouldn't be complaining.

Watch Franken rock it here: