May 4, 2014

I'm not sure why it's so hard for some members of our media to understand that just because someone is a comedian, doesn't mean they're not a "serious" person, but that's exactly what ABC's Jeff Zeleny seemed to be having a bit of trouble with during his interview with Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.

Anyone who's been paying an ounce of attention to Franken's career would have already known that he was very serious about politics long before deciding to run against Norm Coleman for his seat in the United States senate. Franken has kept his head down since then and avoided doing too many national media interviews, and who can blame him?

He would have been painted by the media as just some clown and "unserious" at every turn if he had decided to go the route of a Rand Paul or Ted Cruz and make sure he had his mug on the television week after week as they have.

ZELENY: We caught up with Franken in rural Minnesota. He's starting to run for reelection after spending his first term honing his serious side.

So you're not afraid to use humor, but it seems like you've been selective in using it.

FRANKEN: When I go to the floor and I'm with a colleague, will I crack wise, as they say?

Sure, you know. And in a hearing? Sure. That's who I am.

ZELENY: A top Republican in Minnesota told me that you have done a remarkable job making yourself into a serious person.

FRANKEN: I was always a serious person. People who are funny are very often very serious people, and vice versa.

ZELENY: He became famous bringing Stuart Smalley and other "Saturday Night Live" characters into America's living rooms. [...]

ZELENY: But Franken has traded a television audience of millions to sit through meetings...

FRANKEN: -- pipeline disruptions.

ZELENY: -- and tour factories in hopes of sealing a bond with voters. [...]

ZELENY: Six years ago, you won election to the United States Senate by 312 votes, the smallest margin of any senator.

How did that affect your first term?

FRANKEN: I think it did affect the term. You know, I think I felt that I wanted to prove to all Minnesotans that I was going to work for them.

Is it still the Al Franken decade? Yes, it is.

ZELENY: What would comedian Al Franken say about Senator Al Franken's first term?

FRANKEN: He would say I did well.

Because I'm the same person. There aren't two different people.

ZELENY: Wouldn't he have some fun with you, though, at some point?

FRANKEN: When I would make fun of politicians, only because they were screwing up in some way. And I -- I don't think I could find anything, frankly.

ZELENY: Nothing?

FRANKEN: Whoo, that would be a really hard subject to satirize because -- because I've done -- I've just been impeccable.

ZELENY: Impeccable?

FRANKEN: Yes. I've made them -- I've made some small mistakes, I suppose.

ZELENY : But as Republican senators tell me, not as many mistakes as they hoped. Several GOP candidates are running, but even in a tough Democratic year, for now, Franken holds a double digit lead.

Here's to hoping he keeps it.


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