Now that Al Franken is on his way to join the other comedians in Washington can we expect the Senate to be more fun than ever?
Franken, a professional funnyman and avowed liberal, will finally take his seat as the junior senator from Minnesota after seven hilarious months of legal wrangling over the vote count with the (finally) outgoing Republican incumbent, Norm Coleman, who is a joke but a bad one.
The big question is whether Franken, for all his success as a satirist, book writer, radio guy, and onetime stalwart of Saturday Night Live, can match wits with the likes of Orrin Hatch, Jon Kyl, John Cornyn, and Chuck Grassley, four of the funniest Republicans ever to crack wise on the Senate floor.
Orrin Hatch is probably best known of the current crop of GOP wits because he has been around forever and has never been able to open his mouth wide enough to say anything controversial. Orrin is from Utah and looks rather like one of those scary clean-cut missionaries, which he was, who periodically show up at your door wanting to talk to you about Jesus. Because no one can understand what he is saying, Hatch always gets re-elected.
He is also wonderfully funny, but not as funny as Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who has made a huge contribution to the public weal by making life difficult for foundations and other philanthropic organizations that think their tax-free status gives them the right to give away money to good causes without asking him first. Chuck has kicked some eleemosynary ass and shown those smug foundation types a thing or two about who makes tax policy in this country. Heís funny but heís also tough.
Funny and tough seem to be traits common to all the members of the Senate Finance Committee, which has set itself the daunting task of thwarting President Obamaís effort to reform the countryís perfectly healthy healthcare insurance system. You need a good sense of humor to go against overwhelming public opinion. Just because health care reform was one of the main reasons Obama got elected is no reason for smart, tough, funny Senators to get stampeded into something stupid, something that smells suspiciously like SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!
Do you want the government telling you what to eat, how many aspirin to take, how many hours of sleep you need? Do you want the government examining your prostate? Well, thatís whatís going to happen if Obamaís plan goes through. So letís be thankful that the finance committee has some members smart, funny and tough enough to just say no. Solid, fiscally responsible Republicans like Jon Kyl of Arizona, John Ensign of Nevada, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, and Mike Crapo of Idaho, men elected by the few to block the will of the many.
And letís not overlook the Democratic comedians whose tough, smart, funny performance as members of the Senate Finance Committee ensures their place in the history of tomfoolery. Senators Blanche Lincoln ó who? ó of Arkansas; Ron Wyden ó huh? ó of Oregon; Tom Carper ó whoís he? ó of Delaware; Jeff Bingaman ó oh, him ó of New Mexico, and some other jokesters you probably never heard of.
Then there are other Democratic Senators not on the committee who have joined the hallowed ranks: Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, to name three.
How do you feel about some clown from North Dakota, who represents about 140 people, wrecking the health plan that you sent Obama to Washington to enact? Pretty funny, eh? But this is the new fiscal responsibility. Itís okay to spend a trillion dollars smashing up a country where weíre not wanted but letís not put money into creepy, creeping socialistic ideas about health care. Letís be responsible.
Itís all pretty funny; well, not that funny. The big question is whether a true funnyman like Al Franken can fit in in the Senate. Maybe, in time, but it will probably cost him his sense of humor.