This week, comedian and former U.S. Senator Al Franken joins chief Washington correspondent and “Takeout” host Major Garrett to discuss his ongoing comedy tour, the state of American politics (and comedy), and the war in Ukraine.
The former Minnesota senator also discusses his resignation from the Senate in 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations and his reflections now on that chapter in his career.
This episode was recorded on April 28, 2022.
- Sexual misconduct allegations and resignation from the Senate: “I should be a senator. What happened was just something very odd at a certain moment. And you know I’ve had nine of my former colleagues apologize to me publicly for — all I wanted was due process, and they came to recognize that, and I’ve had a few apologize to me not publicly. I haven’t forgiven them… I believe I should still be there and I believe if I had gotten due process, I would.”
- Biden administration’s handling of Ukraine war: “I think Biden is doing about as much as he can. I think he did an amazing job putting this coalition together. I think that he took some risks in doing that. He released some of our intelligence very early, earlier than you usually do, saying that they’re going to invade. And he did that early enough so that they were able to start putting sanctions together. It takes a while to put sanctions together. And so by the time the–the invasion started, they were–they had a package of sanctions in place. It took a while to get everybody to agree to everything, and it’s evolved. But I think he’s done a terrific job.”
- Ukraine war and midterm elections: “It may actually affect the midterms, though. You know, right now it’s looking bad, the midterms for Democrats. But my argument to Democrats especially is that there’s a lot of time to go before November… In June, a couple of things are going to happen. One, we’re going to have the hearings on the January 6th Select Committee. Jamie Raskin just said it’s going to blow the roof off the house. I think people, Americans, I have this little secret, they like television and the hearings will be on television…I think there’s going to be some pretty powerful stuff. And I- I do think that Americans, you know, the Republican Party has just become this anti-Democratic party.”
- “Woke” America and comedy: “I think it has a chilling effect on comedy. I know a lot of standups who won’t go to colleges…the comedians that I always- that I grew up admiring were people like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin and Dick Gregory. People who were- would use- would explore the edge of offending people. And that- what people I think understood that then and that was a positive thing…You know, all you need is a small percentage of people on campus to cause a stink or a ruckus. And so it doesn’t- we’re not talking about necessarily 95% of students. You know, and so it’s just I think it’s too bad…”
Executive producer: Arden Farhi
Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson