Column Date 2009-07-17

It's good to have a professional clown in the Senate

I'm tired of all the amateurs in congress.

So let's put our hands together and give a warm Tannen Weekly welcome to Al Franken, our newest U.S. Senator!

Al has a very impressive resume: one of the original writers for Saturday Night Live, a best-selling author ("Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations" and "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right"), and an actor who has appeared in films with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd.

In other words, he's got exactly what I'm looking for in a senator: innate comic humor plus the ability to step back and see the big (and often ludicrous) Washington picture.

Why is Franken so important?

Because things are incredibly boring in the senate; boring to the point where hardly anybody pays attention anymore.

One reason I think it's so boring is because 58% of the senators in congress are lawyers. And lawyers talk to other lawyers in lawyer talk and are not funny. Or even comprehensible.

If you've ever watched C-Span, you know how a senator can literally talk a bill to death – even if he's in favor of it. (I've always thought that C-Span, if marketed properly, could make billions as a proven cure for insomnia.)

In this crowd, Al will surely stand out -- because anyone (even you) becomes a very funny, indeed hilarious, person when surrounded by lawyers.

To put things in perspective, lawyers account for less than 1% of the American population, compared with nearly 6 out of 10 senators. (Is this government by our peers? Is this possibly the reason why nothing ever seems to get done in Washington? Just a thought.)

When I listen to most senators pontificating on the floor of the senate, all I can do is groan.

This guy might make me laugh.

It's time for a change.

©2009 Peter Tannen