FBB Book Review: Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

Tom Warwick

“I was born in a house that I built with my own two hands. I’m sorry. That’s not true. I got that from my official Senate website. We should really change that.”  – Al Franken

Editor’s Note: As with our previous book reviews and out of fairness to our readers, the FBB editors feel it necessary to provide a link to where the books we review can be purchased.  This is not necessarily an endorsement of the author’s work and the FBB receives no financial gains from providing this link. Senator Franken’s book can be purchased here.

A few months ago, the editors of the Finest Bagels Blog had a striking realization…we are huge nerds; and just in case the fact that our hobbies include maintaining a political blog wasn’t proof enough, we decided to double down on the nerdiness and created a new series where we share with our readers our thoughts on an article or book we’ve recently read. My fellow editor, and good friend, Winston Smith kicked off this new series with a review of Alex Epstein’s The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.  Winston’s review was equally thoughtful and scathing as he de-pantsed Mr. Epstein and the ludicrous arguments he put forward. In this installation of the FBB Book Review, I will use six hundred and fifty-three words to tell you how funny I think Al Franken is, enjoy!

In Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, Senator Franken spends most of the book revealing all of the jokes that he thought of, but couldn’t say, over the last nine years.  In an era where our politicians feel the need to suppress all human emotion, reading Franken compare Ted Cruz to the guy in the office who microwaves fish and referring to Justice Scalia’s dissent in the Supreme Court’s landmark Marriage Equality case as “very gay,” is as refreshing as it is funny.  For the most part, the book follows the arch of a typical political memoir, Franken begins by relaying stories of his childhood and crediting his parents for instilling in him the values which continue to guide him today.  He goes on to give a behind the scenes account of what it was like to work for Saturday Night Live and how his time as a comedy writer, specifically a satirist, sparked his interest in politics and left him with a deep disdain for those who have developed…let’s say a casual relationship with the truth.

This disdain, specifically for Rush Limbaugh, would inspire Senator Franken to take his first steps into the political arena.  Franken describes his time as a talk radio host and brags several times about the time now-Senator Elizabeth Warren was a guest on his show. As he continues to wade into politics and call out lies and the lying liars who tell them, the Senator starts to contemplate the possibility of running for elected office. The deciding factor for Franken came after the death of his close friend Senator Paul Wellstone, Senator Wellstone’s death deeply affected Franken and he came to see Wellstone’s successor Senator Norm Coleman as a direct insult to Wellstone’s legacy. What followed was a political campaign featuring a series of Minnesotan bean feasts, an article written by the candidate entitled “Porn-O-Rama,” the constant use of “No Joke” as a prefix before any article about Franken, and finally concluded with a six month recount court battle.  

Franken’s tales about his time in the Senate tend to highlight the first lesson he learned as a Senator, mainly that his political opponents don’t quite share his sense of humor.  Franken tells the story of the time that an eye roll on the Senate floor lead to a scolding from the Senator Mitch McConnell and how his habit of singing “I’m more important than you” as he weaves in and out of the line of tourists waiting in line at the Capital earned him a nasty tweet from Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. The book, however, is more than just jokes. While more interesting than the average politician-written book, Franken still touches on most of the current hot button political issues. Franken relays stories of encounters with his constituents, the most touching being the story of an Iraqi War veteran who piloted a program that matched comfort animals with other vets experiencing PTSD.  The program was eventually institutionalized within the Department of Veterans Affairs through legislation introduced by Franken.

Franken finished the book with a rallying cry for Democrats under a Trump administration.  Franken encourages the continuation of the protests and truth-to-power demonstrations that have become common since January 20th 2017, and makes a promise to keep up the fight in the Senate.

The tone of the book makes one wonder if Franken has ambitions outside of the hallowed halls of the Senate. It also makes me wonder what could have been if Hillary Clinton had listened to John’s advice and chosen Franken as her running mate in 2016.  As far as political memoirs go, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate is in a class of its own. However, that being said, it  is also a very liberal book written for a very liberal choir. It is highly entertaining, but without a doubt falls under the category of coastal liberal elite propaganda.  I highly recommend it.

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