Liberal radio talk show host Al Franken broadcasted his show, typically based in Minneapolis, live from GW’s Jack Morton Auditorium last week, giving him the opportunity to criticize and satirize President Bush in a building five blocks from the White House.
Thursday’s “Al Franken Show,” which aired from noon to 3 p.m. and attracted about 120 audience members, covered a variety of political topics including the Bush administration’s public image and handling of the war in Iraq and Rep. Tom Delay’s (R-Texas) decision to leave Congress. But before Franken started digging into the current situation in the White House and the Capitol, he couldn’t resist poking fun at the campus first.
“Famous alumni of George Washington University include Colin Powell, who misled the world at the UN to trump up the case for the war in Iraq, Kenneth Starr who was brought to shame for his pernicious role in the ridiculous impeachment of President Clinton, and J. Edgar Hoover, the cross-dressing head of investigation,” Franken said at the start of the show. “We’d like to thank George Washington for playing host to the ‘Al Franken Show’ today”
During the show, Franken engaged in banter with call-in guest Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), particularly regarding Delay’s critical characterization of her as a female “know-it-all.” Franken also asked Clinton if she knows what the gender differences between know-it-alls are.
“I haven’t conducted quite the study on it that some people have, but it is my observation that women do know it all, but pretend that they don’t,” she said, adding that “the Congress is going on without Delay, thank goodness.”
Bush also wasn’t left out of the mix, and Franken was interested in knowing whom the senator thought was a better president – Bush or her husband, Bill Clinton.
“I don’t believe in taking advantage of people when they’re so down you can hardly find them.” she said.
Longtime journalist Helen Thomas, now a columnist for Hearst papers, discussed on the show the war in Iraq, particularly the amount of damage that has been done by insurgent groups throughout the Middle East country.
“I don’t think (Bush) calculated that there would be all of this revolt,” she said. “Can you imagine everybody to just roll over and play dead when your country is being invaded by a superpower?”
Franken, an original writer on “Saturday Night Live,” is an Emmy Award-winning television writer and producer, a Grammy-winning comedian and author of five New York Times bestsellers. Since Franken moved his radio show from New York to his hometown of Minneapolis, there has been discussion of the comedian/actor/writer possibly running in the 2008 Senate race against Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.).
In an interview with The Hatchet following Thursday’s broadcast, Franken side-stepped the question of whether he will be running for Senate.
“I’m doing the things I would do if I were going to run because if I decide to run, I’ll have had to have done those things,” he said.
Franken also discussed his continuous disputes with Fox News’ conservative media personality Bill O’Reilly. Fox News sued him in 2003 over the “fair and balanced” phrase used on the cover of Franken’s book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,” which poked fun at O’Reilly, who was listed as one of the liars in his book.
“I’m glad they did it . it just got me a lot of publicity,” Franken said to The Hatchet. “Fabulous – a win-win for me.”
He added that he tried to provoke O’Reilly again in creating his radio show and originally naming it the “The O’Franken Factor.”
Franken said, “I was just trying to get O’Reilly to sue me again. It didn’t work. Darn.”