Al Franken has disturbing visions of his 'presidency'
Web posted on: Monday, January 25, 1999 4:40:01 PM
(CNN) -- From "Saturday Night Live" to his own "Late Line," comedian Al Franken is never very far from a late night TV show, and he's doing pretty well as an author as well.
His last book was "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot." Now he's back with a new political satire called "Why Not Me?" -- the story of what a Franken presidency might be like -- perhaps a frightening thought, or maybe an amusing idea.
Al Franken spoke with CNN Anchor Miles O'Brien on CNN Sunday Morning.
MILES O'BRIEN: How did you get the idea for this particular book?
AL FRANKEN: Well, after the Rush book, a number of people asked me if I intended to run for office ever. They thought it would be a good idea because I obviously know a lot about politics; I'm comfortable on camera, as you can tell; I've been married once, have two children; very, very good looking. And I told them that I'd be a terrible office holder, so that was sort of the genesis of this idea. In fact, in the book, I become president and have to resign after 144 days.
O'BRIEN: And did you look lustfully at an intern or something? What happened?
FRANKEN: Well, I do much, much worse stuff.
O'BRIEN: Oh, Really? Like what? Oh, there's this Saddam thing; tell us about that.
FRANKEN: Well, what happens is during my presidency, I become depressed on day two and start getting medicated, so ...
O'BRIEN: So the honeymoon was two days.
FRANKEN: I give a disastrous inaugural address in which I apologize for slavery in a very insensitive way, and so I go through sort of bipolar behavior. During a low, for example, I punch Nelson Mandela in the stomach. (Laughter)
O'BRIEN: That's a low. That's a low.
FRANKEN: That's a low. And during a manic high, I get the idea of personally assassinating Saddam Hussein.
O'BRIEN: And how far do you get with that plan?
So what happens is the congressional -- the joint congressional committee on the president's mood swings -- investigates and gets my diaries, which are very incriminating, and I'm thrown out of office. So I leave, I resign.
O'BRIEN: Did it have an independent counsel or an independent psychiatrist for you then?
FRANKEN: We have just the joint congressional committee, no independent -- I think the independent counsel law, by then, will be gone.
O'BRIEN: Now, you've had a chance to watch the show, as you might call it, in Washington -- front row seats, I'm sure. First of all, how are you getting tickets?
FRANKEN: I'm not going to say who, but a friend of mine got me a ticket to the gallery. This person asked that I not reveal ...
O'BRIEN: OK, so what do you get? You get like 15 minutes in there, right?
FRANKEN: No, I got a ticket for the whole afternoon. I was there for about three hours.
O'BRIEN: So you're able to see what the senators are doing. What are they doing?
FRANKEN: Yes. I saw one senator, I'm not going to say who, but they were sitting in the back row, reading an article on Michael Jordan during a lot of it. (Laughter)
O'BRIEN: And ...
FRANKEN: Kind of sneaking it.
O'BRIEN: How awake are they?
FRANKEN: By and large, they are awake. Some of the older members tend to drift off a little bit. But by and large, I think they're very attentive and very -- this is important, obviously.
O'BRIEN: Now, Monica Lewinsky, of course, (is) back in Washington. It just seems to give the whole scandal a new life, I suppose. I guess that's bad news, perhaps, for the whole nation, but good news if you're in the comedy business, right?
FRANKEN: I don't know. Even the comedy on this is wearing very thin. The day I was there, Byrd -- it came out that (Senator Robert) Byrd was going to file this motion to dismiss, and so during one of the breaks I went to the bathroom and I ran into a reporter who said, "Hey, (Rep. Lindsey) Graham is going to give some reply. Why don't you come to this press conference?"
So I did, and Graham was saying how important witnesses were. He was saying, you know, "If we don't have witnesses, we won't know the facts." (Laughter)
So, you know, people were asking questions. I raised my hand and he called on me, and I said, "You say that without witnesses you don't have the facts. Are you saying that if you had been a House member, you wouldn't have voted for impeachment because you wouldn't have had the facts?"
And he said, "I think the House managers are doing a very good job and so is the White House counsel."
And I started to say, "So you're not going to answer my question." And then a woman came up to me and said, "Sir, you're going to have to leave." (Laughter)
O'BRIEN: Security, please! All right.
Mr. Al Franken, thank you so much for being with us. We'll have to get you a press pass because that was a good question.
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