Thursday, November 16, 2017


I think Leeann Tweeden's story about her interaction with Al Franken on a 2006 USO tour is quite plausible, especially accompanied by that photo:
Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’....

On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL...we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’

He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time....

The tour wrapped and on Christmas Eve we began the 36-hour trip home to L.A. After 2 weeks of grueling travel and performing I was exhausted. When our C-17 cargo plane took off from Afghanistan I immediately fell asleep, even though I was still wearing my flak vest and Kevlar helmet.

It wasn’t until I was back in the US and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one:

Al is a great senator, and I think his better self is a decent guy who respects women. But he's also this guy:
The Minnesota Democrat's first Senate campaign, in 2008, was damaged by revelations that he had made a joke in a Saturday Night Live writer's room meeting about raping the television journalist Lesley Stahl.

“I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then when Lesley is passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her," Franken said, according to a 1995 article in New York magazine. "Or ‘That’s why you never see Lesley until February. Or, ‘When she passes out. I put her in various positions and take pictures of her.’”

In his 2017 book, Franken wrote that he "wasn't sorry" for the joke, which he called "stupid." "I was just doing my job," he said.
He's apologized for what he did to Tweeden:
" ... I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.

“Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all. It's the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come to terms with that...."
It's good that Franken and Louis C.K. have owned up to their behavior, but I suspect that it's not very difficult for them. Self-loathing comes easy for comics. It's a standard comic posture.

I'll miss Franken, but he should resign. All the sexual creeps in Congress should face a reckoning and resign -- Democrats and Republicans. I'll lay down the marker now: They should all resign, even the Democrats who might be in seats that Republicans could pick up.

But if we're making calculations about impact, we should note that according to Minnesota law, the governor -- Democrat Mark Dayton -- would choose Franken's replacement, and a new election would be held in November 2018. Donald Trump is quite unpopular in Minnesota. In all likelihood, a Democrat would hold this seat.

Beyond that, if Franken stays, every Alabama Republican voter who's on the fence about Roy Moore receives a Get Out of Moral Quandary Free card. Hey, the lib harasser gets to stay, so hell yeah, I'm voting for Roy Moore.

I still think a Doug Jones victory in Alabama is a long shot, though people who are smarter than I am think it's possible. But it won't be possible if Franken hangs on. That's not the main reason he should go. But he should go.

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