Al Franken’s long, tortured explanation of editorial-cartoon humor

posted at 12:55 pm on May 7, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Senator Al Franken forgets the first rule of humor in this excruciating nine-minute speech on the Senate floor: if you have to explain a joke, it’s not funny. Rising in defense of Chris Dodd’s financial-reform bill, Franken attempts to use Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles’ entry on ratings agencies, a cartoon that more or less explains itself. That doesn’t stop Franken from boring in on every obvious detail … emphasis on boring:

Andrew Malcolm warns that this isn’t a Saturday Night Live skit, although it’s almost as long and tiresome as one:

And we realized suddenly that somehow we had inexplicably missed the comedian’s detailed explanation of a newspaper editorial cartoon enlarged so that he could identify the symbols and characters in it so the elderly senators could see it. The current White House’s pedantry is apparently infectious.

Additionally, Franken takes many moments to explain the drawing and its symbols as documentation for his argument for more government regulation of yet another part of the financial industry.

No, this is not a “Saturday Night Live” skit. This is the real thing from the Senate floor where the 100 members are paid $174,000 — each — for this work. The folks back home must be very proud of the honorable gentleman.

The entire point of using Toles’ cartoon never really gets explained. Does Toles’ cartoon somehow prove that Dodd’s bill works? Did Franken waste nine minutes of floor time on a cartoon because he didn’t have any actual data or analysis of his own? Or did the pride of Minnesota’s DFL not realize that it’s a cartoon, and it doesn’t show anything at all except Toles’ opinion on the matter?

Franken may not be funny … but he’s certainly a joke.


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I don’t quite hate myself enough to watch the video. But I will agree that Franken’s a joke…on the US taxpayer.

DrAllecon on May 7, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Franken may not be funny … but he’s certainly a joke.

Well, part of a joke. I see him as the fart in the space suit.

Patrick S on May 7, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Don’t ever again let a Democrat tell you they really really care about the quality of the elected representatives in our Congress.

They don’t. Franken is exhibit A.

Good Lt on May 7, 2010 at 1:00 PM

You just need to shut up right now

the Coondawg on May 7, 2010 at 1:00 PM

I went and looked at the cartoon…it wasn’t all that BF – Deal ;)

Dr Evil on May 7, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Franken is exhibit A.

Good Lt on May 7, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Dumb as he is, Maxine Waters takes the blue ribbon.

fogw on May 7, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Minnesotans are so proud…

d1carter on May 7, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Humor is like a frog – you can dissect both, but neither will survive the process.

mugged on May 7, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Thank you Minnesota!!!

Caper29 on May 7, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Hey Al…

Electronics companies have to pay UL to get their electronics approved for being safe and within standards.

Seems to have worked fine there for dozens of years.

But, AL, in your socialist tripe world, Obama should nationalize UL so we can be “safe”. Right?

Skywise on May 7, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Franken is like the brother, or uncle we don’t speak of, and keeps to himself up in the attic.

Who the hell let him out to speak?

It’s quite obvious here, he had nothing of relevance, or intelligence to add to the subject at hand, so made something, anything up, to prove he understands the issue. He doesn’t have a clue as to what he’s doing, and he’s not hiding it well….is he!?!

capejasmine on May 7, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Also, AL, don’t you think its bad that Fannie Mae and its watchdog that issues its rating are both run by the same government?

Skywise on May 7, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Way to go Minnesota! So far you’ve had a truther governor and now you have a gibbering imbecile as one of your senators. What’s next? Maybe a dog that can clean his genitalia to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy? That would make for slightly more entertaining TV than listening to this tool.

austinnelly on May 7, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Franken is exhibit A.

Good Lt on May 7, 2010 at 1:00 PM

OMG, I just listened to him. He’s reading from written text and sounds like a fourth grader. Then he points out a banana and a roller skate on a sheet of ice in the cartoon and tells us these are “bad things”.

I defer to your sound judgement Good Lt.

fogw on May 7, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Ahhh Minnesota…”land of 10,000 lakes.” Or is that “land of 10,000 flakes?”

sdd on May 7, 2010 at 1:12 PM

As Joan Rivers said…We’re suppost to take serious someone with a rubber chicken in their pocket…LOL

rich801 on May 7, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Minnesotans are obviously morons for electing Franken. The entire state and all its inhabitants should be sold to China.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 1:13 PM

*sigh*

Shut up, Stewart.

TheUnrepentantGeek on May 7, 2010 at 1:15 PM

If he had just had the foresight to include a Bass-O-Matic in his presentation….

BobMbx on May 7, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Al Franken didn’t play Stuart Smalley. Al Franken is Stuart Smalley. When he isn’t Pat.

viking01 on May 7, 2010 at 1:17 PM

When you think about it, Al Franken was never particularly witty. He made an entire career out of doing absolutely nothing but acting like a psychotically narcissistic freak.

People just sort of ASSUMED that he was joking about it.

logis on May 7, 2010 at 1:18 PM

Way OT…. Stuart Varney is saying yesterdays precipitous market drop may be due to “market maipulation”.

George Soros alert?

Given his connection to monetary colapses in Argentina, Thailand, Russia and moniker of “the Man Who Broke The Bank of England is it tin-foil-hatish to suspect him here as well?

On that note, given his plethora of 527′s that backed Obama…

Soros and his foundations have had a hand in funding such noteworthy leftist organizations as the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy; the Tides Foundation; the Tides Center; the National Organization for Women; Feminist Majority; the American Civil Liberties Union; People for the American Way; Alliance for Justice; NARAL Pro-Choice America; America Coming Together; the Center for American Progress; Campaign for America’s Future; Amnesty International; the Sentencing Project; the Center for Community Change; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Human Rights Watch; the Prison Moratorium Project; the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; the National Lawyers Guild; the Center for Constitutional Rights; the Coalition for an International Criminal Court; The American Prospect; MoveOn.org; Planned Parenthood; the Nation Institute; the Brennan Center for Justice; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the National Security Archive Fund; the Pacifica Foundation; Physicians for Human Rights; the Proteus Fund; the Public Citizen Foundation; the Urban Institute; the American Friends Service Committee; Catholics for a Free Choice; Human Rights First; the Independent Media Institute; MADRE; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; the Immigrant Legal Resource Center; the National Immigration Law Center; the National Immigration Forum; the National Council of La Raza; the American Immigration Law Foundation; the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee; and the Peace and Security Funders Group.

And the conviently timed market crash of 9/11/08 as seen here on CSPAN with Paul Kanjorwshi(skip to 2:06), the scariest news never reported by the LSM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD8viQ_DhS4

Given Soros’ history and pro Obama internationalism is it really nuts to suspect him as these things are happening, again?

Archimedes on May 7, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Minnesotans are obviously morons for electing Franken. The entire state and all its inhabitants should be sold to China.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Don’t give up on us yet…

Poll shows Republican surge in Minnesota, Emmer in front

A new poll shows a big leap in the number of Minnesotans who identify themselves as Republicans.

http://www.startribune.com/politics/93066164.html

strictnein on May 7, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Given Soros’ history and pro Obama internationalism is it really nuts to suspect him as these things are happening, again?

Archimedes on May 7, 2010 at 1:20 PM

The continued existence of Soros is solid proof that the Men in Black rumors are just that…rumors.

BobMbx on May 7, 2010 at 1:22 PM

First, a political cartoon should never, ever be used by a US Senator as an argument for financial overhaul. Just…never.

Second, there’s something wrong when a room full of lawyers, businessmen, doctors, and soldiers — making $174,000 a piece — are having a political cartoon explained to them by a “comedian”.

amerpundit on May 7, 2010 at 1:22 PM

Save the video for a campaign ad in…..yikes…2014!!!?

aquaviva on May 7, 2010 at 1:22 PM

I believe the proper expression here is: oof da!

(or something like that…I only lived in MN for a couple of years)

atlgal on May 7, 2010 at 1:22 PM

And I’ll just say that CSPAN viewer thingy is awful. Can’t speed it up w/o it starting over. Offered as a public service, indeed!

SnowSun on May 7, 2010 at 1:22 PM

I tried. Really, I did.

EZnSF on May 7, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Minnesotans are obviously morons for electing Franken. The entire state and all its inhabitants should be sold to China.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 1:13 PM

It’s simpler than that….if you want to influence Minnesotans, all you need to do is promise:

1) Longer ice fishing seasons
2) Longer summer fishing seasons
3) Longer deer hunting seasons
4) Longer bear hunting seasons
5) Smaller “No wake zones”
6) etc….

BobMbx on May 7, 2010 at 1:25 PM

The continued existence of Soros is solid proof that the Men in Black rumors are just that…rumors.

BobMbx on May 7, 2010 at 1:22 PM

And rumours had it that John Edwards had a mistress & secret love child….

Jussayin.

Archimedes on May 7, 2010 at 1:27 PM

No, this is not a “Saturday Night Live” skit.

This entire congress and administration are one big tragic comedy of errors. The mere fact that this bumbling fool and others like him (Franks) can occupy any office in this land above that of dog catcher, is a sure sign to me that we are indeed living in the last days.

labrat on May 7, 2010 at 1:27 PM

No wonder Davis dumped him.

BHO Jonestown on May 7, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Blame Minnesotans all you want; however, most believe Franken stole the election from Colman. It’s an embarrassment though that it was even that close. Sigh.

deidre on May 7, 2010 at 1:29 PM

That is just flat out embarrassing. What the hell was Franken thinking? Tom Toles is now the foremost authority on financial reform? What’s next? SpongeBob SquarePants on the oil spill?

rockmom on May 7, 2010 at 1:30 PM

I noticed when I clicked on this post, the ad between the main part of the post and the comments was for the Fancast “Watch Looney Tunes In One Click”. Arbitrarily put there, I guess, but still a nice commentary on the difference between cartoons (and cartoonish senators) who are and aren’t funny.

jon1979 on May 7, 2010 at 1:31 PM

He wasn’t funny on SNL and in the senate he is tragic.

jukin on May 7, 2010 at 1:34 PM

I used to like the Deep Thoughts…other than that, Franken is an obnoxious clown. So really, he fits in with most of the other Democrats.

search4truth on May 7, 2010 at 1:35 PM

strictnein on May 7, 2010 at 1:21 PM

No. The entire state should be dragged up and deposited in the Yukon; I would rather a dozen Mexican border towns than Minnesota. Every person living there is a fool.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Coming soon! The Franken – Ventura Debates. That’s right Mean Gene ! Keeping the freak in political freak shows.

viking01 on May 7, 2010 at 1:40 PM

I honestly don’t care to watch Franken.

He’s like the Boxer guy character to me.

AnninCA on May 7, 2010 at 1:43 PM

What’s next? Maybe a dog that can clean his genitalia to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy? That would make for slightly more entertaining TV than listening to this tool.

austinnelly on May 7, 2010 at 1:11 PM

I hate going OT, but is this available on pay-per-view?

TugboatPhil on May 7, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Minnesota Also Gave Us Minnesotans 4 Global Warming so this all a kind of wash.

Greeny Weenies Conflicted Over Solar Sight

On a strip of California’s Mojave Desert, two dozen rare tortoises could stand in the way of a sprawling solar-energy complex in a case that highlights mounting tensions between wilderness conservation and the nation’s quest for cleaner power.

File under you can’t make this stuff up. M4GW are much funnier than Stuart Smalley.

Dr Evil on May 7, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Is he drunk? What a boring, slobbering jerk-off.

Jaibones on May 7, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Minnesota residents must be embarrassed beyond belief. The Dem stole the election, and is proving his incompetence.

You really can’t make this stuff up (Dr. Evil is right!). Has anyone less competent and qualified ever been seated as a Senator – oh, wait! I forgot about Joe “regularly guy” Biden. Never mind. *sigh*

DINORight on May 7, 2010 at 1:58 PM

Franken may not be funny … but he’s certainly a joke.

Truer words have never been spoken.

Mirimichi on May 7, 2010 at 2:01 PM

So here’s an important question. If the pubs were to regain control of the senate would that mean alleged senator Franken would get kicked off of any committee seat?

Dave_d on May 7, 2010 at 2:10 PM

I used to like the Deep Thoughts…other than that, Franken is an obnoxious clown. So really, he fits in with most of the other Democrats.

Deep thoughts were actually written by Jack Handy. (Yes, he’s a real person.) You know, that’s why they were actually witty and funny.

Dave_d on May 7, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Al E. Franken

justltl on May 7, 2010 at 2:17 PM

Way OT…. Stuart Varney is saying yesterdays precipitous market drop may be due to “market maipulation”.

George Soros alert?

You’re only saying that because ACORN is gone.

YYZ on May 7, 2010 at 2:19 PM

I used to like the Deep Thoughts…

That was SNL writer Jack Handy, not Franken.

YYZ on May 7, 2010 at 2:20 PM

His belabored explanation of that simple cartoon seems like something Norm MacDonald might do.

YYZ on May 7, 2010 at 2:22 PM

It reminds me of the end of Billy Madison, where Adam Sandler is asked a question and in reply goes on and on about some story book character–completely unrelated to the question. When he’s finished, the moderator/principal says, “At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.”
That’s EXACTLY how I felt after watching Franken’s remarks!

varnson on May 7, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Given Soros’ history and pro Obama internationalism is it really nuts to suspect him as these things are happening, again?

Archimedes on May 7, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Given the fact that Soros profited immensely from the first fallout….I’d say it’s entirely possible he’s responsible for yesterday. Dems need to buy elections, and he’s the money supply!

capejasmine on May 7, 2010 at 2:42 PM

No. The entire state should be dragged up and deposited in the Yukon; I would rather a dozen Mexican border towns than Minnesota. Every person living there is a fool.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Well, I’d like to volunteer to be the first. Eagerly waiting for you to show up on my door step.

BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Oh my goodness…I swear time stood still while I watched that. What a complete waste and so emblematic of all the democrats I know. Their highest level of congitive function is reasons with cartoons. Complete gay wad.

TheAudacityofNOPE on May 7, 2010 at 2:53 PM

It is truly dismaying that this man and his minature, mediocre (at best) skill set, is representing millions of people.

Our Congress and President are not up to the task of governing this nation, period.

They are not qualified. They are not experienced.

The sad, useless clown Franken is the poster boy for an incompetent, corrupt Congress.

NoDonkey on May 7, 2010 at 2:55 PM

.

Senator Al Franken forgets the first rule of humor …… : if you have to explain a joke are reusing a gag from The Paula Poundstone Show,it’s not funny.

.

Arbalest on May 7, 2010 at 2:55 PM

Everytime I hear his voice or see his face, all I see in my mind is a drunk baggage handler on a train full of new year’s eve partiers.

tommer74 on May 7, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Senator Smalley.

Dan Pet on May 7, 2010 at 3:07 PM

Is Minn able to recall this lamebrain excuse of a senator? Do they even care or will admit what a joke they voted for? He is a loony tune that will be living off the American taxpayer for the rest of his life when he leaves office one way of another.

Kissmygrits on May 7, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Do they even care or will admit what a joke they voted for?

Kissmygrits on May 7, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Hello, the son-of-a-bit*h barely won the damn election in case you weren’t paying attention.

Take a look at what’s sitting in the White House right now before you start smearing an entire state.

BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Minnesotans are idiots, complete and total idiots, every one of them.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Is Minn able to recall this lamebrain excuse of a senator? Do they even care or will admit what a joke they voted for? He is a loony tune that will be living off the American taxpayer for the rest of his life when he leaves office one way of another.

Kissmygrits on May 7, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Sickening, isn’t it? I just can’t put myself in the intellectual place his voters must inhabit. Who next? Carrot top?

saiga on May 7, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Minnesotans are idiots, complete and total idiots, every one of them.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Cheese Head??? Why all the butthurt???

BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Cheese Head??? Why all the butthurt???
BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Nope not a cheesehead, just tired of Minnesotans and their stupid accents, bad food, polluted lakes, and dopey politicians. Every person living in Minnesota is a disgrace.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Well, I’d like to volunteer to be the first. Eagerly waiting for you to show up on my door step.
BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Fine with me. Do you live near in or near Wright or Hennepin county because I don’t want to drive far?

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Nope not a cheesehead, just tired of Minnesotans and their stupid accents, bad food, polluted lakes, and dopey politicians. Every person living in Minnesota is a disgrace.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Serious ButtHurt.

BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Every person living in Minnesota is a disgrace.

Even the ones who voted for Coleman?

It’s like blaming every resident of California for Babs Boxer, probably the only sitting Senator more consistantly embarrassing than Franken.

Spiny Norman on May 7, 2010 at 3:49 PM

From Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 1602:

LORD POLONIUS
This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.

Brevity and Franken are at opposite ends of the Universe. Madness, on the other hand, almost occupies the exact same space as Franken.

Freaky, no? But let that go…

karl9000 on May 7, 2010 at 3:51 PM

BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 3:46 PM

No, just embarrassed that the U.S. includes a state which would elect Franken.

At least in my state we elected Michele Bachmann, can you say the same?

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 3:52 PM

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 3:52 PM

Bastard….

BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 3:54 PM

Bastard….
BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 3:54 PM

Rainy and slow here at the shop today, so slow that most of my guys left already.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 3:27 PM

I don’t think it’s working. Try a grey fly with buff speckled wings.

a capella on May 7, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Rainy and slow here at the shop today, so slow that most of my guys left already.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Yeah…I only work until noon on Fridays…got a few Sam Adams down…

Damn it to hell….

BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 3:59 PM

I don’t think it’s working. Try a grey fly with buff speckled wings.
a capella on May 7, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Dumb old Red Devils…I’m behind the times. Maybe just a plain old leech next time.

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Bastards….

BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 4:03 PM

I’m not a Doctor, so I can’t diagnose anything, but I have worked with Franken twice.

I think he has a bit of a mental problem, and I don’t mean liberalism.

Wander on May 7, 2010 at 4:05 PM

This certainly explains why all the dead people in Minn. voted for him.

rjoco1 on May 7, 2010 at 4:10 PM

Oh, good. Government has created yet another consumer watchdog group.

No word yet on who the government watchdog might be.

nico on May 7, 2010 at 4:18 PM

“Well, Franken didn’t really win the election and he’s a skilless, worthless a-hole, but I’ll go ahead and let him be a Senator for at least the next 6 years because y’know, I’m a good guy.”

Good going Norm.

You should have prevented this flaming idiot from stealing the election, instead you let down each and every individual who voted for you, but letting this rodent infest Congress with his virus.

NoDonkey on May 7, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Jesus…actually watched (as much as I could take of)the video…

Can’t wait to see what he has to say on the Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings for what ever turd Obama throws in there…

*sigh*

BigWyo on May 7, 2010 at 4:31 PM

I think Al’s held it together pretty well so far. At some point it’s going to get boring playing Senator and he’s going to fall apart on national television. It’ll be fun to watch.

JellyToast on May 7, 2010 at 5:04 PM

He sounds like he’s slightly drunk — or developmentally impaired — and trying to read something that he only vaguely comprehends.

cruadin on May 7, 2010 at 5:07 PM

..sadly, somewhere, Frankwen’s few remaining sycophantic followers, dewy-eyed-followers, muff girls, and other ass-kissers think this performance is f*cking brilliant!

Betcha people listening to this maroon drone on and on were nodding off.

The War Planner on May 7, 2010 at 5:22 PM

Everytime I hear his voice or see his face, all I see in my mind is a drunk baggage handler on a train full of new year’s eve partiers.

tommer74 on May 7, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Me too!! Now if we could just get him tied up and gagged IN the gorilla suit. That would be funny.

tickleddragon on May 7, 2010 at 5:24 PM

The JOKE is on those idiots who elected Franken.

GarandFan on May 7, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Franken is actually worse than Senators like Boxer and Kerry. At least those people can pretend to be serious politicians.

Speedwagon82 on May 7, 2010 at 8:26 PM

Bishop on May 7, 2010 at 1:36 PM, etc.

You crack me up.

But I just got back from an afternoon in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul, and, you know, honestly, we could probably pack that whole neighborhood up and ship it to China.

I swear, even the 2010 model (hybrid, of course) cars have “Wellstone” bumper stickers on them….

notropis on May 7, 2010 at 10:49 PM

notropis on May 7, 2010 at 10:49 PM

And most of them are literally “well-stoned!”

chickasaw42 on May 8, 2010 at 12:09 AM

tickleddragon on May 7, 2010 at 5:24 PM

hehe

tommer74 on May 8, 2010 at 1:31 AM