AL FRANKEN

June 23, 2011

The Following article originated at and is taken from DiscoverTheNetworks.com

Alan Stuart Franken was born in May 1951 in New York City and was raised in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. In 1973 he graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He went on to become a writer (and an occasional performer) on the television comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) from 1975 to 1980 and again from 1985 to 1995. He also worked as a movie-script writer and made cameo appearances in several films, most notably Trading Places (1983) and The Manchurian Candidate (2004).

Describing himself as a "proud liberal," Franken detests conservatives and Republicans, whom he views as “racists.” At a black-tie dinner in Washington, DC, Franken approached George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, whom he had never met before, and told him: "I'm Al Franken. I hate you, and you hate me."

Franken also commonly characterizes conservatives as "liars." At the Chicago book Expo in June 2003, for instance, he walked up to TV/radio host Bill O’Reilly and called him a liar. Not long after news of Rush Limbaugh’s addiction to the prescription drug OxyContin was made public that same year, Franken opined that the talk-show host lacked the honesty required to successfully complete a 12-step substance-abuse program.

Franken says that conservatives use “the media apparatus” to spread “filth, sleaze, and bile” throughout the United States. According to Franken, Republicans “hurt black people and help rich people, who tend, again generally, to be white.” The Republican Party, he elaborates, is the ideological dwelling place of “Southern bigots.”

Characterizing America at large as a racist nation, Franken depicts white employers as bigots with an aversion to hiring black workers. Over the course of his involvement in the television, radio, film, and book-publishing industries between 1975 and 2005, Franken himself was directly or indirectly responsible for the hiring of at least 112 people; only one was black.

Franken has authored five books, three of which reached the #1 position on the New York Times bestseller list. His most popular titles were Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations (1996); Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (2003); and The Truth, with Jokes (2005), wherein he wrote: “Republicans are shameless d**ks. No, that’s not fair. Republican politicians are shameless d**ks.”

Franken has been a friend and adviser to Bill ClintonHillary Clinton, and Al Gore. On one occasion he stated that he was in "Bill Clinton's pocket," adding that he considered Clinton the greatest president of his lifetime. In April 2003, Franken, while serving as a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, wrote fake letters on Harvard stationary to 29 high-profile advocates of abstinence-only sex education -- among them, Attorney General John Ashcroft and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice -- asking them to share their own personal “abstinence experiences” for an inspirational book for teens to be called Savin’ It! Franken’s targets saw through the ruse, however, and some complained to Harvard, leading Franken to issue a less-than-gracious apology.

In early 2004 Franken was hired to host a daily talk show on Air America Radio. On that program he regularly blasted President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for supposedly having authorized the prisoner-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.  In 2005 Franken became a contributing blogger at the Huffington Post. He continued to host his radio program through February 14, 2007. In the last segment of the final show, he announced that he would be running for a United States Senate seat (representing Minnesota) against incumbent Republican Norm Coleman.

Once Franken became a candidate in 2007, critics and news reporters raised questions about financial scandals of his past. It was learned, for example, that from 2002 to 2005 Franken's corporation had failed to carry the required workers' compensation insurance for its employees in New York State, and that Franken had repeatedly ignored communications about the matter from New York officials. But now that he was seeking public office, Franken paid a $25,000 fine to New York State in an effort to put the issue to rest.

Then, in April 2008, after months spent dodging questions from critics and opponents about the state of his personal finances, Franken finally admitted that he owed approximately $70,000 in unpaid taxes in 17 states. Shortly thereafter, the Minnesota Workers' Compensation Board fined Franken’s corporation $25,000 for failing to pay three years' worth of workers' compensation dues.

Franken's 2008 Senate race against Coleman was hotly contested and extremely close. It was also marred by what journalist Matthew Vadum called "appalling irregularities that characterized both the initial and subsequent vote-counting." The morning after the election, Coleman led Franken by 725 votes. But Franken refused to concede, and the thin margin triggered an automatic recount. As ACORN-aligned Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (who had won his own office with the help of funding from the Secretary of State Project) presided over the recount process, Coleman's lead gradually vanished due to a host of mysterious, newly discovered votes that almost invariably benefited Franken. A detailed account of these developments can found here. By the time the recount (and a court challenge by Coleman) had ended in April 2009, Franken held a 312-vote lead.

On June 30, 2009, after the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously rejected his lawsuit, Coleman officially conceded and Franken was declared the victor.

In 2010, the organization Minnesota Majority -- which favors "limited government, lower taxes, parental rights, free markets, protecting our borders and a strong national defense" -- issued the results of a study which found that at least 341 convicted felons (mostly in Minneapolis–St. Paul) had voted illegally in the Franken-Coleman election.

Below are Al Franken's views on a variety of key issues, as he expressed those views, either verbally or in writing, during his 2008 U.S. Senate campaign. All the information contained herein was originally compiled by OnTheIssues.org.

  • Public funding of college tuition costs: Franken called for a $5,000 tax credit to help people pay for a college education. Funding for these credits would be derived from a reduction in tax breaks for millionaires.
  • Public funding of early-childhood education: “It’s impossible to guarantee every child an equal opportunity in life--there are just too many factors (parents, economic status, talent) beyond our control. But we can and should guarantee every child a fair chance, and invest in early childhood education.”
  • Forgiveness of student loans under certain circumstances: “Let’s create an ROTC-style program for teachers. If a student pledges to teach a needed subject in a designated needy area for a certain amount of time (say, math in a poor rural district suffering from a shortage of math teachers), the federal government could forgive some or all of that student’s loans.”
  • Giving more money to public schools with a poor track-record: “Instead of punishing low-performing schools, use research-based interventions to help them improve. Give them the resources to hire, develop, and retain the best teachers by offering increased pay, safe working conditions, and sufficient support staff and facilities.”
  • More taxpayer funding of public schools: “We have to fully fund our public schools.... Every public school in America should have small class sizes, well-maintained facilities, plenty of school supplies, and more support staff. Teachers should be paid as the professionals they are. Parents shouldn’t have to pay 'activity fees' for their kids to play sports or participate in arts or music programs.”
  • Franken opposes tax credits for oil companies.
  • Supports Cap-and-Trade: Franken supports “a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases … It is an absolute scandal that we have failed to lead on this issue by refusing to sign onto the Kyoto accords. We have to lead going forward -- and we have to make sure we bring China and India with us. Domestic limits on carbon emissions would be a step toward the US doing our part to halt and reverse global warming.”
  • Ending the "cowboy diplomacy" of the Bush administration: “[T]here is a difference between leading the world and ruling it. We must work with our allies -- and talk with our adversaries -- in order to build a more peaceful and more prosperous world. The 21st century has already presented us with numerous global challenges: global warming, pandemic disease, extreme poverty, failed states, international terrorism. Simply put, these are not challenges we can address alone, but they are challenges we must rise to meet. We can’t meet them with unilateral demands and cowboy diplomacy.”
  • Increase foreign aid: “The United States can boost its foreign aid, and should. Such assistance is an investment in the kind of world America wants to build, with rising living standards and growing economies. It’s both the right thing and the smart thing to do, because we know that weak and failing states pose a threat to our security and a haven for international terrorism.”
  • Abolition of all forms of enhanced interrogation: “[T]he Bush Administration’s treatment of detainees has us fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. We will never restore America’s moral authority until we stop splitting hairs over torture. There is no need for it, and there is no excuse for it. What we need is a single standard of humane treatment for all U.S. personnel, including the CIA -- so that our own people, and the rest of the world, will know what we mean when we say 'we don’t torture.'”
  • Franken supports the International Criminal Court.
  • Supports government-run healthcare: “We need to go to universal health care as soon as possible.... Access to affordable health care should come with living in the world’s richest, most advanced nation. But during the Bush administration, the number of Americans living without health insurance has grown from 39.8 million to 46.6 [million].”
  • Opposes the development of new nuclear weapons by the U.S.: “The U.S. has numbers of nuclear weapons way beyond what we might need as a deterrent. The most senior officials from earlier administrations are all stressing the urgency of reducing our arsenal. As we work to stop nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, reductions on our part will help us regain the moral high ground. And, of course, a good first step is to abandon any plans to build new nuclear weapons.”
  • Opposes border fence: “The best way to deal with illegal immigration is to enforce -- actually enforce -- the law at the worksite. No wall is high enough to keep people from coming over it -- or under it -- if there are jobs waiting on the other side.”
  • Supports a path to amnesty for illegal immigrants: “I believe we need comprehensive immigration reform. I don’t believe it’s practical to deport the 10-12 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. And I don’t believe in breaking up families. Instead, we should look to bring them out of the shadows and put them on a path to citizenship.”

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