Al Franken announces a run for the Senate: a Transcript
Hi, I’m Al Franken. I'm running for the United States Senate here in Minnesota. I'd like to talk to you about why I'm running.
I'm not a typical politician. I’ve spent my career as a successful actor and comedian, starring in TV and movie classics like LateLine, The Definite Maybe, Stuart Saves His Family, and -- of course -- Trading Places (as the baggage handler).
Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical about whether my acting success will translate to Washington. Two words: Ronald Reagan. But, remember, Reagan had a wildly successful movie career with loads of hot actresses chasing him and his politics later veered to the hard right. It's safe to say that in both cases, I'm the complete opposite of Ronnie.
I want you to know: nothing means more to me than making government work better for the working families of Hollywood. Think of a down-on-his-luck high school jock like Tom Cruise in All the Right Moves or a down-trodden Jet Li in Unleashed. Guys who work their tail off earning twenty or thirty million a year. Today, however, I want to take a few moments to explain to you why I take these issues personally.
My family moved to Minnesota from New Jersey when I was four. My dad had a vision of beating Baskin-Robbins in the ice-cream business and what better place to begin than Minnesota? Ice was free and he had plenty of recipes in order to beat Baskin-Robbins with thirty-four flavors, which would give him a competitive advantage.
After about three months, the factory failed and we moved to the Twin Cities. Years later, I asked my dad why the business failed. "Two reasons: it's so damn cold in Minnesota that no one wants to eat ice cream."
Then I asked him what the second reason was. He simply cursed and handed me an old notebook. It was his original set of recipes, covered in dust, and nearly unreadable. I flipped through the ancient, leather-bound collector's item and found a set of unique ice creams based upon Minnesota's favorite foods. There was a recipe for salmon ice-cream, walleye ice-cream, trout ice-cream, catfish ice-cream, and even some non-seafood-based treats. Jalapeno ice-cream, for instance. I carefully closed the book and then sneezed. A tear ran down my cheek, but it could have been some leftover particles from the onion ice-cream recipe.
That was my dad – a great Minnesotan and a lousy businessman. He got a job as a private lake-cleaner, and my mom worked in the fields straightening cheese. The four of us – I have an older brother, Owen – lived in a two-bedroom, one-bath house in St. Louis Park. That was my childhood, a far cry from my later success in radio, television, and movies that I -- even today -- refuse to share with my ungrateful, unsupportive family. I earned it - they didn't.
My wife, Franni, and I met in college. My widowed Mother-in-law got herself a $300 GI loan to fix her roof, and used the money instead to go to the University of Maine. I later reported this incident to the authorities and collected a substantial reward. Later on, after serving several years of probation, my mother-in-law and every single one of her kids became a productive member of society.
But now, thanks to progressives like me, we're incenting more people not to work at all. They can become productive members of society by suckling off government, which becomes ever bigger under Democratic leadership. Face it, folks, most people can't get by on their own! Government needs to pay them. Even me! Heaven knows, the radio business ain't what it used to be!
Last year I traveled all over the state of Minnesota on behalf of many Democrats: from Wasacka and Crabassa up to Turgid Falls and Coitus Lakes, over to Jimanju and the Free Range, from Spittoon down to Chlamydia, I was in Formaldehyde and all over the metro, up in St. Slick's a few times, eating a lot of beans and buns, talking and farting along the way. But most importantly, I talked to Minnesotans, passed gas, and listened.
They told me that they’re sick of politics as usual—and they're sick of the usual politicians. And, oh, whether I could move a few stools further away.
And I’ll tell you what else they told me. It’s different now than it was for me and Franni. When Franni’s sisters were using them to go to college, Pell Grants paid for 90% of a college education. Today, they pay for 40%. And President Bush, with the help of his Republican cronies in Congress, have even tried to save Social Security. I say, enough of trying to live within our means! Let's go whole hog, like in the FDR days, and spend your -er- government money even faster!
It's different for middle-class families, too. Forget low unemployment rates, the soaring stock market, more home-owners than ever... forget all that s**t! It don't matter! We need Democrats in charge so we can return to the days of the Internet boom, the invention of the world-wide web, Y2K, and no damn terrorism on our shores... I call those 'the golden years.'
We can return to the days when college was free, and doctors paid house-calls, and prices never rose. Just like the Soviet Union in the thirties - now, that was a great society!
Your government should have your back. Pay the bills. Take care of your pets. Paint the shed. Beat up that surly dude who collects your monthly payment at the garage downtown.
Our state has sent strong, progressive leaders to Washington—from Paul Wellstone to Walter Mondale. That's the kind of strong, bold leader I think we need more of in this, the nuclear age of terrorism, and that's the kind of Senator I'll be.
The kind of leader who won't hesitate to pass a resolution or issue a strongly worded memo when some whacked-out dictator attacks us with nukes.
Retired anti-terrorism expert and ex-President Bill Clinton used to say that there’s nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed with a suitcase filled with cash from John Huang. Well, John Huang isn't around any more, but there are plenty of others who can fund Democratic ventures. Ventures like discovering life-saving cures for syphilis, ending global warming by banning cars, inventing new energy sources from renewable sources like M&M's, and repairing our relations with valued allies like Iran and North Korea.
My political hero is Paul Wellstone. He used to say, “The future belongs to those who cheat the most... like Richard Daley.” I may be a comedian by trade, but I know a good line when I hear one. I'm willing to work hard, cheat when necessary, and construct a diabolical political machine that can wrest Washington from the Republicans, once and for all.
Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you on the trail.
Oven-baked good readin', just like Mama used to make:
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