What do comedians do once they’ve given up on being funny? What happens to the comic once he or she sense that the inevitable slide into irrelevance has begun? Run for political office, of course.
That was the course that Minnesota Sen. Al Franken set for himself after the laughter died. He was hire to host a liberal talk radio program on Air America that had as its mission entertaining the audience. Franken and the rest of the network failed in that charge.
If you can’t be funny, be cutting. If you can’t be cutting, be provocative. If you can’t do any of these, be poignant and affecting. Franken tried all of the above behind the microphone, and it did not take long for him to determine that he could best serve the public by giving up on the entertainment business and going to work fulltime in public policy as a U.S. Senator. Now in his second term, Franken found a niche that seems to work for him and his constituents.
But what’s sauce for the goose isn’t necessarily sauce for the gander, as Mitt Romney would say. And Franken is reportedly preparing a hefty helping of goose sauce for his friend and fellow former comedian, retiring The Late Night host David Letterman. In an appearance on the CBS program, Franken urged Letterman to seek a second life in politics and run for the Senate in his home state of Indiana, where incumbent Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) will retire at the end of this term in 2017.
The proposition was made during an unenlightening conversation on Indiana’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, a subject that has inspired much anxiety on the left but precious little understanding. “In 1964, we sort of settled the idea that you had to serve people,” Franken said. Letterman proudly displayed an utter lack of consideration for the issues at play in Indiana when he agreed that the state had essentially legalized segregation. (via Mediaite:)
When Letterman asked what he, as a lover of Indiana, personally can do to “make the governor feel uncomfortable,” Franken had a suggestion. “As a matter of fact, there’s an open seat there,” he said, noting that Republican Sen. Dan Coats has said he will not run for re-election in 2016.
“Look, when people come to me, they say, young people say, ‘How do you become a United States senator?” Franken said. “And I say, ‘Well, do about 35-40 years of comedy and then run for the Senate.’ It’s worked every time.”
“I think you should run,” Franken told Letterman…
Conservatives agree. Al Franken, who won his first race in the pro-Democratic wave election year of 2008, only made his way into the upper chamber of Congress after a prolonged recount and a series of legal challenges. And in Minnesota, of all places. Republicans surely would love to see candidate Letterman on the ballot in 2016 in the purple-to-red state of Indiana with Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket. Now that would be funny.