Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

Originally published July 2017

I wanted to title this review, “Franken Brings the Funny.” Or, in a nod to Franken’s “favorite” adjective, “No Joke: Franken Writes with Robustness.” But he’s trying to do less of the silly in the Senate. Thank goodness he isn’t 100 percent successful.

I’d like to offer a completely unbiased review, except that I have been an Al Franken fan for forever and a day. Not only is he completely full of common sense, he is able to accurately call out people and situations that are completely full of shit. (Cough, cough, DeVos, cough, cough.) There are several kinds of Franken fans—including those that love Stuart Smalley, and those that love the “Al Franken decade.” I’m the latter.

His political satire, I think, has been some of the best stuff going since his days on SNL. But his most recent, “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate,” offers an unvarnished look at why and how he became a U.S. senator, and more importantly, illustrates exactly how seriously he takes the job.

There are moments of inspiration, when he talks about the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, his family, and his wife Franni. And there are moments of sadness, when he acknowledges the passing of Luis Montalvan, a former Army captain integral to his first legislative win (Dog lovers, this one’s for you.). But mostly, the book brings levity to the crazy town that is D.C. these days.

That Franken, whom I think of as pretty darn liberal, gets along — well — with Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell, gives me hope there really is more that unites us than divides us. His interactions with them are deliciously evil and hilarious at the same time. And his Ted Cruz joke is one for the ages. You’ll need to read the book or watch an interview for that one.

Mostly, despite the fact it’s unrealistic that without a gabillion dollars the average passionate American can also run for office and win, it was refreshing to read a story about someone who wanted to make a difference and then did.

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