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Profile of Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota

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Profile of Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota

Photo: William D. Bird/Getty Images

Al Franken, U.S. Senator from Minnesota:

On June 30, 2009, Al Franken was declared victor in Minnesota's 2008 Senate race after a protracted recount and several legal appeals by defeated Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

Famed comedian and author Franken holds strongly progressive liberal beliefs, and is a bright, serious intellectual. Franken was a writer/actor on Saturday Night Live for 15 years, for which he won 3 Emmy awards for writing.

Senator Al Franken on the Issues:

Franken views himself as carrying on the strong progressive beliefs of the late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, a personal friend who was killed in a 2002 plane crash.

On July 6, 2009, Franken enthused that he's "ready to get to work" on "education, health care and energy issues."

About energy issues, Franken commented "We need to get serious about renewable energy by funding a real Apollo Program to explore new sources. From ethanol and biomass energy to solar and wind power, the solution to our 'addiction to oil' is right under our nose."

Senate Committees in the 112th Congress, 2011-2-12:

  • Judiciary Committee
  • Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee
  • Energy & Natural Resources Committee
  • Indian Affairs

Al Franken on Air America:

From March 2004 to February 2007, Al Franken hosted the flagship daily talk show of Air America radio, the main U.S. non-subscription radio outlet for liberal and progressive viewpoints.

Franken's popular program reached 1.5 million unique listeners weekly at its peak, and featured interviews and serious commentary, as well as political humor, skits and parodies of conservative broadcasters Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and others. A listener-favorite feature was his "Hate Email of the Day" segment.

Al Franken, Author:

Franken has penned 4 bestselling books of political satire:

"The Truth: With Jokes" (2005) Compare Prices

"Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" (2003) Compare Prices

"Why Not Me?" (1999) Compare Prices

"Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations" (1996) Compare Prices

Al Franken, Comedian and Actor:

As teenagers, Al and high school pal Tom Davis hung around local comedy clubs, including Dudley Riggs' Cafe Expresso, anxious to act and write comedy.

Franken and Davis honed their comedy act during and after college, when they were spotted and hired as writers by Lorne Michaels for his fledging show, Saturday Night Live. Franken was an SNL writer/actor for 15 years, from 1975 to 1995, where he earned 3 Emmy awards for writing.

From 1995 to 2004, Franken devoted his time to film writing and acting, and to writing 4 bestselling books of political satire. (listed above).

Personal Data:

  • ]Birth - May 21, 1951 in New York City to a middle-class Jewish parents Joe and Phoebe, now deceased. The Frankens moved to Minnesota when their 2 sons were young.
  • Education - The Blake School, 1969. B.A., political science, Harvard University, 1973.
  • Family - Married in 1975 to Franni Bryson. Two children, Thomasin, a New York City school teacher, and Joe, a Princeton University engineering student.
  • Faith - Jewish, Reformed
Al scored a perfect 800 on the SAT exam math section. He's admitted to cocaine use in his early SNL days. Al's brother, Owen, an MIT graduate, is a respected photojournalist.

Interesting Personal Notes:

Al and Franni met as college freshman, and immediately began dating. They were married 5 years later. Al has been a member of Al-Anon since 1987, presumedly in light of his wife's alcoholism. A few years later, Al penned the screenplay of the 1994 film "When a Man Loves a Woman."

Since childhood, Al has known, and allegedly competed politically with, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and respected political scholar Norm Orenstein.

Memorable Quotes by Al Franken:

On U.S. Deployment from Iraq

"We should also be re-deploying our troops out of the civil war that has engulfed Baghdad. They can be re-deployed to surrounding bases, to other parts of the country, to Kuwait and Qatar, and especially to Afghanistan, where our mission is in danger of failure. At the same time, we should be convening a regional conference including Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt to come up with a long-term plan for Iraq and ensure that a regional conflict does not arise."

On the Religious Right

"They sometimes forget we don’t live in a theocracy. They can be in the public square and express their opinion but to expect other people to alter their behavior to say that, for example, that homosexuality is immoral because it says so in the Bible…I mean it also says you can’t eat pork. I don’t see a lot of orthodox Jews saying people who eat pork shouldn't be allowed to get insurance benefits.

"I mean there’s stuff in the bible how about how to sell your daughter. They kind of are pretty selective about what is important and what isn’t. I think slavery is ok in the bible. It’s stupid! It’s like the dumbest thing that they want to proscribe other people’s behavior based on their belief."

--- Beliefnet.com interview in 2003

On U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil

"President Bush has referred to our dependence on foreign oil in literally every State of the Union Address he’s given. Strangely, all his rhetoric hasn’t made us any less dependent on foreign oil. In fact, we are more dependent. In 2000, 58% of the oil consumed in the U.S. was imported. By September 2006, that number had risen to 70%."

On Wasteful U.S. Health Care Spending

"Overall, we spend 16% of our GDP on health care – nobody else spends more than 11%. We spend 34% of our health care dollars on administrative costs – nobody else spends more than 19%. Every other industrialized country insures 100% of its people, while we leave tens of millions without coverage. And in the most recent ranking by the World Health Organization, the U.S. ranked 37th, right between Costa Rica and Slovenia."

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