Al Franken Opens Up on His Recount Battle, Rush Limbaugh and Recession Politics
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The following is a transcript of Al Franken's first national media interview since November, conducted by Mark Green, which will air on Air America this Saturdayat 3 p.m. PST and re-airing Sunday at 6 a.m. PST. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Mark Green: ...We talked before [going on] air about an election night a few years back when I spent two hours in an emotional deep freeze not knowing whether I had won or lost a close and big race. So how have you handled a three-month -- and counting -- emotional deep freeze?
Al Franken: Well, Frannie and I Iook at each other at night, usually right before we go to bed, and go like: "How long is this gonna go on?" But, it really looks now that it's going to get resolved in my favor, and soon, and so I'm actually excited to get there. So that sort of overcomes the frustration of: "How long can this go on?"
MG: What's the holdup? Haven't you been certified the winner by the secretary of state of Minnesota?
AF: Well, I've been certified as the winner of the recount. So I just want to be fair to everybody. When I was certified by the state canvassing board as the winner of the recount, Coleman, as is his right, filed a legal contest contesting the outcome of the recount. And that was January 6th, the day that I could've been seated as the winner of the recount.
Then we went to trial January 26th, and this is the fourth week. At the end of this past week, the judges issued a ruling, which we think is a great ruling, which narrowed the standards and scope of the absentee ballots that have been previously rejected then the Coleman people kind of did a 180. They had not wanted these ballots included at all, but now that they're behind, they wanted them all included. The narrowing of the universe of these absentee ballots that could be counted is such that we really believe we're going to win, and we're going to win soon.
MG: I can't think of precedents for you -- an over-three-month counting delay in seating a senator and also a comedian moving on to the Senate. Are there any?
AF: Comedy to the Senate? Well, there certainly hasn't been a satirist or a political satirist who's done that. So, that really was uncharted territory during the campaign. But I think it's a good thing. Some people thought that it was an odd career arc, but to me it made absolute sense.
I had always been obviously interested in politics; DFL politics in Minnesota was when I was a teenager. And the reason I wrote political satire was because I thought it -- politics -- was important, that public policy was important. Then I transitioned into books, then into radio. So it all, actually, made total sense to me, as puzzled as many people were and continue to be.
MG: Was there a moment where you thought -- yeah, I can be the first to go from satire to Senate, I can actually run and win and serve?
AF: I don't know about the moment when I first considered running, but I remember the moment where I pulled the trigger, where I said: "I'm gonna do this." I was in Iraq. And I had been sort of toying with the idea. I mean, more than toying -- really actively considering it.
MG: What year was this?