Riding Around in My Automobile with Al Franken

Although I almost always listen to NPR in my car, because I’m exceedingly nerdy and hew especially close to liberal stereotype, sometimes I hit the loop of All Things Considered and I need something else.  It’s remarkable to me sometimes that I even put up with ATC, because as a little girl, my dad listened to it in the car frequently, and I hated — detested, even — the theme song.  Those blaring horns, those dry public radio voices (to a little girl enamored of New Kids On The Block, anyway).  It was anathema, but now it’s my afternoon juice.

However, when NPR won’t do or won’t come in over the radiowaves, I turn to audiobooks at times.  I recently finished Al Franken’s The Truth: With Jokes, which originally came out around 2004/2005.  As you may know, I worked for about a month on Franken’s recount campaign in Minnesota, although it’s long gone to the courts.  So it was interesting to hear more from my would-be new Senator.  The last time I listened to Franken on audiobook was a Stuart Smalley book, and he’s come a long way since then.

Listening in 2009 mostly brought back a lot of memories from the second Bush Administration (I had pretty much forgotten about Terri Schiavo, and I had never paid much attention to Tom Delay/Jack Abramoff), but it was fresh because of Franken’s imminence on the Minnesota political scene.  Here’s a recent Star-Tribune article about him.  The book, like the man, obviously plays to a political niche, but I appreciated his adamant approach to “debunking” politicians’ statements or conventional wisdom.  Also, he does a funny Dick Cheney impression.  And the impressions make it clear that a) he’s still got that SNL ability and b) this is not your regular political screed.

The lengthy epilogue dances around who he thinks will have won the 2008 election, but by naming his mythical future grandchildren Barack and Hillary, you can see he was hedging his bets.  He was pretty confident about the Democratic ascendancy in 2006 and 2008 — and right.  Franken’s clear in his epilogue about his desire to become a U.S. Senator, although he doesn’t specify from which state.  Hindsight makes this an especially ironic part, as no one could have foreseen the ugly, drawn-out election and recount battle.

I’m not sure how Franken will do as a Senator — I’m sure his iconoclastic, inquisitive perspective will make a few waves amidst the entrenched Senate — but he does make for good company in the car.

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