July 8th, 2009
05:58 PM ET

Politics a good second career for actors and comedians?


Left to Right: Alec Baldwin, Al Franken, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Fred Thompson. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The actor Alec Baldwin is reportedly eyeing a run for Congress just as former comedian Al Franken becomes the newest show biz type to join lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Baldwin vowed to leave the country if George Bush was elected, but he's still here and now reportedly wants to become part of the Washington establishment.

We've gotten used to celebrities on Capitol Hill drawing attention to this cause or that cause from time to time. But it's also nothing new for these celebrities to step into the role of lawmaker.

Former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura became Governor of Minnesota in 1998. He declined to run for a second term.

Actor Fred Thompson, notably of Law & Order fame, served as a Senator from Tennessee before mounting a failed bid for the White House.

And speaking of Presidents, Ronald Reagan, of course, was an actor before jumping to politics, as was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. And we can't forget singer and actor Sonny Bono.

The list goes on including stars from shows like the Love Boat, and the Dukes of Hazard who all have spent time in Washington on behalf of constituents who elected them to office.

Baldwin's credentials are questionable… but Al Franken is no slouch. He's Harvard educated and one of his first duties will be as a committee member for the confirmation hearing of Sonia Sotomayor next week.

Why it occurs to actors who spend their time pretending to be someone else that they are the answer to our nation's problems is a mystery. On second thought, how much worse can they be than the ones that are groomed for life inside the Beltway?

Here’s my question to you: Is politics a good second career choice for actors and comedians?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Al Franken • Congress • Government • Minnesota
July 1st, 2009
05:00 PM ET

What will Al Franken mean for Obama's agenda?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Al Franken is headed to Washington. Nearly eight months after Election Day, the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously declared Franken the state's next senator. And once he is sworn in - presumably next week - the Democrats will finally have their so-called super majority; meaning they'll have 60 votes, which is enough to stop any Republican filibuster.

On paper it seems like a home run for Democrats and for President Obama's ambitious agenda in the coming months. But in reality it might not be so easy.

For one thing, Democrats won't always have the 60-vote majority because Senators Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd are both ill and are only likely to return for the most crucial votes. Also, Former Majority leader Trent Lott once said governing the Senate is like herding cats, and Senate Democrats have already proven they won't fall into line when it comes to some of the president's top priorities.

For his part, Franken insists he's not going to Washington to be the 60th Democratic Senator; but rather to be the second senator from the state of Minnesota. That's what he's supposed to say. But Washington is nothing if not partisan; and Franken just might be able to make a real difference on big votes like health care and climate change.

Democrats are welcoming the news, but say it won't mean they'll just be able to "jam" their agenda through. Meanwhile, one top Republican says the 60-vote majority means Democrats won't be able to blame the minority for being obstructionist any more.

Here’s my question to you: What will Minnesota Senator-Elect Al Franken mean for President Obama’s agenda?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Al Franken • President Barack Obama
May 8th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Comedian determining balance of power Senate?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Minnesota still hasn't decided the outcome of its Senate race more than six months since Election Day, and the stakes are higher than ever. With the defection of Arlen Specter from the Republican Party, Minnesota's race takes on a whole new meaning.

Franken with Cirque du Soleil performers during a 2003 appearance on 'The Tonight Show' with Jay Leno.

If Al Franken wins, he'll become the 60th Democratic senator and the party will have a filibuster-proof majority. This would likely help President Obama get through his upcoming Supreme Court nominee along with big initiatives like health care.

Vice President Joe Biden met with Franken this week and said the administration looks forward to working with him once Minnesota's Supreme Court issues its final ruling. That's where the race is now tied up.

A three-judge panel ruled Franken is the winner, but Norm Coleman won't go away. He has asked for a recount of at least 1,300 ballots. Coleman is trailing Franken by 312 votes. Coleman's appeal could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court; even though some in the Republican Party concede it's not looking good for him.

By all accounts, it seems likely that Al Franken - a former comedian who appeared on Saturday Night Live and a former liberal radio host - will win. One Democratic consultant and a friend of Franken says it's ironic for a comedian to carry so much power, but "Franken is certainly comfortable with irony."

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean that a comedian will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Al Franken
April 14th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

5 months after election, still no winner in Minnesota

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Minnesota has become a joke - unless you live there and would like your voice represented in the United States Senate. 161 days after the election and they're still trying to figure out who won the senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.

Franken (L) has urged Coleman (R) to let him "get to work as soon as possible."

A three-judge panel has now ruled against Coleman, saying that "Franken is entitled to receive the certificate of election" after defeating Coleman by 312 votes. But it's unlikely that the Minnesota secretary of state will issue that certificate until all legal challenges are exhausted.

I'm exhausted watching this... looks like a Three Stooges movie. Coleman has 10 days to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court; and if he loses at the state level, there's always the federal level.

Coleman's lawyer says they'll appeal to the State Supreme Court because the lower court's order "wrongly disenfranchised" thousands of voters. I wonder if they'd be appealing if Coleman had 312 more votes.

Franken says he's confident he'll eventually be certified. He's calling on Coleman not to appeal and to "let me get to work as soon as possible." He added it's time for Minnesota to have 2 senators like every other state.

Minnesota is starting to look like a third world country - the land of 10,000 lakes and a dysfunctional democracy. We send people to monitor elections in foreign countries. Maybe next time we should send some to Minneapolis.

Here’s my question to you: What's wrong with Minnesota if 5 1/2 months after the election they still don't know who the winner is?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Al Franken • Minnesota • Norm Coleman
January 29th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

How tired are you of Blogojevich, Coleman, Franken, and Palin?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

I have a bone to pick with my own industry.

From L-R: Rod Blagojevich, Norm Coleman, Al Franken and Sarah Palin

Minnesota held an election for a Senate seat last November. It is almost February, and they still can't figure out who won: Norm Coleman or Al Franken. I quit caring several weeks ago. Minnesota elected Jesse Ventura to be their Governor, a former wrestler. They have no credibility when it comes to elections.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich came to New York a few days ago to babble incoherently about all the various charges pending against him, including his impeachment, and the news media reacted like he was the second coming. If the New York media is hungry for three dollar bills, we have a great home grown crop of our own, without indulging this narcissistic phony product of Illinois machine politics.

And finally, there's my all-time favorite empty dress: Sarah Palin. She announced she's forming a political action committee. I'll give you eight to five she can't even spell it. But the media breathlessly jumped on this story like the future of the free world hung in the balance. Who cares? The next presidential election is almost four years away. And she's got as much chance of being the next president as Bugs Bunny.

OK, I feel better now.

Here’s my question to you: How tired are you of hearing about Rod Blagojevich, Norm Coleman, Al Franken and Sarah Palin?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


January 7th, 2009
06:02 PM ET

Minn. Senator: Why is it Taking So Long?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Call it the Minnesota Follies. The land of 10,000 lakes and Jesse Ventura is now threatening to give us a senator from Saturday Night Live. What's wrong up there? Two months after the election and they're still trying to figure out who won.

How tough can this be? It's not like counting all the votes in China.

The contest between incumbent Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken is starting to resemble the telethon for Jerry's kids.

On Monday the state canvassing board certified the recount and declared Franken the winner. But Coleman won't go away.

He's filing a lawsuit to challenge the recount of the recount. The move could drag this thing out until spring. His lawyers said the process is just beginning. That's what lawyers do. The longer they can drag things out, the more money they make.

The rest of the country managed to elect their lawmakers without a problem back in November. Georgia had a runoff, but that's long since over. It's now January and the 111th Congress has convened.

When it comes to elections, Minnesota is starting to make Florida look efficient.

Here’s my question to you: Why is it taking Minnesota so long to elect a senator?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Al Franken • Minnesota • Norm Coleman