The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

03 April 2007

Al Franken, Minnesota US Senate Race, Talk Radio, Alfalfa


Is Stuart Having Second Thoughts?

Hey Minnesota: meet Alfalfa Franken!

After trading a multi- million dollar salary, high- profile (and quite comfortable) Manhattan lifestyle and comparatively light talk radio workload for the campaign trail's 24/7 drudgery, we wonder: does Stuart Smalley regret his decision to run for the US Senate?

After looking at today's coverage of his as- yet relatively low- profile campaign, your Radio Equalizer wonders what's going through Alfalfa's mind right about now:

MORTON — He is best known for sketches on “Saturday Night Live,” and best-selling humor books that poke fun at figures like Rush Limbaugh.

But 15 minutes before he was scheduled to appear at a ballroom at Jackpot Junction on Saturday night, Al Franken was huddled with a group of ag producers talking about something other than fame or entertainment.


“I just had a meeting about all the background of alfalfa,” Franken said as he stood outside the ballroom, where the Senate District 21’s annual meeting took place Saturday night.

That means using alfalfa as feed, as a counter to overplanting other crops, as a tool against soil erosion.

Things Franken said he’d never thought about before, but issues he realizes he now must begin to understand. Franken has officially entered the race as a DFLer for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Norm Coleman. Saturday’s convention was his first campaign visit to southwest Minnesota.

“To me, this is a process,” he told the Independent. “And I have a lot to learn.”

He said meetings like the alfalfa one are important — “smart,” because “I know almost nothing about it, and I will have to learn more about it not only in the next 19 months before the election but hopefully the next six, seven, eight, 12 to 14 years in the Senate.”

He said he doesn’t like to just start talking cold about things he isn’t familiar with.

“But I’m learning a tremendous amount,” he said.

He’s traveled around rural Minnesota in the past year, campaigning for other candidates. But since he hasn’t been in this part of the state before, he was asked if he understood the core issues of southwest Minnesota.

He said he did, listing off renewable energy and transportation — especially for ag products — as top priorities.

He appeared on the “Late Night” with David Letterman show on Thursday night, touting renewable energy. Franken called for an approach similar to the U.S. space program in the 1960s, a concentrated national effort that led to the Apollo moon trips.

“Renewable energy is a very hopeful part of our future and it addresses so many things,” Franken said. “Carbon emissions, global warming, the environment, national security and jobs.

“And I’m a huge fan of wind energy, and a huge fan of any kind of ethanol. I think there’s a lot of future in cellulosic ethanol, not just (corn).”

He said he has heard farmers’ concerns about getting product to market, both with better rural roads and less-expensive, less-complicated rail transportation.

He told the story about his own family’s move to Minnesota from New Jersey when he was 4. His father opened a quilting factory in Albert Lea but went bust. As an adult, Franken asked his father why.

His father replied that he chose Albert Lea because the rail line went through the city, but the business failed because the trains didn’t stop there. Same thing for farmers, he said: When rail lines dictate how much grain can be shipped and from where and when, ag products suffer.

Franken was also asked if he saw his values — he’s often associated with New York City or the Twin Cities — as being similar to rural Minnesotans. He said he thinks he stands up better for the middle class than Republicans have while they held power in Congress and the White House.

“It just seems to me one of the differences we’ve seen in the Republicans in Congress and the White House is that they are much more interested in special interests and big interests,” Franken said. “And I am with the little guy.”

He said his travels around the state in the past year have shown him, “that rural Minnesotans have a lot of the same concerns that every Minnesotan and every American has: Health care and education, jobs and the war. (Dana Yost- Marshall Independent)

Two things stand out here: one, being so far removed from his childhood days in rural Minnesota, it's hard to imagine Al Franken really having a shot at selling himself in the state's most remote corners. His father might have been a decent candidate, however.

In addition, it's truly difficult to believe that Stuart Smalley, he of an ultra- elitist Harvard and Manhattan background, really gives a crap about alfalfa. Did the farmers fall for it?

In the end, Air America's money troubles likely gave Franken no choice but to find something new to do. That doesn't mean he's enjoying this, however.

Alfalfa Franken: David A Lunde
Nice 'N Fluffy: Pete at IHillary

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  • The thought that trains wouldn't stop in Albert Lea, is ridiculous. Back in the time frame that Al is giving, trains stopped everywhere. Trains were very much a part of travel in the US. I was drafted in the Army in 1966, and we loaded on a train in Minneapolis and then stopped in St. Paul, to take it down to St. Louis, then on buses to Fort Leonardwood. Me thinks that he's been eating too many alfalfa sprouts.

    By Blogger AllenS, at 04 April, 2007 08:28  

  • Franken is just a liar. When will the Democrats realize that the "Joe Isuzu" shtick isn't working?

    By Blogger PCD, at 04 April, 2007 08:36  

  • If the freight train didn't stop there--an obvious requirement for any manufacturer's economic success unless they intended to deliver goods by pack mule--why the hell did Al's daddy choose that locale to set up shop?

    "Look, railroad tracks! Let's build our business here."

    "Honey, there's no train station...not even a depot."

    "Be quite, woman! You know nothing of business."

    Yep, that there is par for the Air Idiot business plan.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 04 April, 2007 11:59  

  • Wow - where did my very on-topic comments go?

    Trouble facing reality, C&P-loney?

    By Blogger TJ, at 04 April, 2007 12:54  

  • Well, the first round of Winter II ratings are in. Let's just say that AAR has seen better days.

    Market - Winter II 06 - Winter II 07
    NYC ----------- 1.2 ------------ 0.8
    Chi ----------- 0.7 ------------ 0.9
    LAX ----------- 0.9 ------------ 0.6
    Nassau -------- 0.8 ------------ 0.3
    Middle NJ ------ 0.5 ----------- 0.3

    That comes about to apx. a 25% drop from what were already abysmal ratings.

    Even though he's stuck in Bumsville, MN, it looks like Franken may have made the wise career choice after all.

    By Blogger BF, at 04 April, 2007 14:04  

  • Trouble facing reality, C&P-loney?

    c'mere, moron... we wants to give you a wet fat kiss....

    and then take you soul apart.


    Stop dancing with Nancy Maloney.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 04 April, 2007 14:45  

  • I know what I'm on, TC - but what are you on, and are you willing to share?

    By Blogger TJ, at 04 April, 2007 15:09  

  • Looks like something in the Franken campaign is working.

    "Al Franken's U.S. Senate campaign announced today that they expected their first-quarter fundraising to top $1.3 million.

    In their release (available below), Franken staff made sure to mention that this total was achieved in the last half of the quarter, after his February 14th announcement. The campaign also indicated having more than $1 million cash on hand. Staffer Andy Barr said "[w]e've known for some time now that people are excited about Al's candidacy, and our fundraising success confirms that. Our campaign is already in full swing, and we're incredibly grateful to our thousands of contributors for making that possible."

    The $1.3 million was "raised from over 10,000 contributors from all 50 states and Washington, DC".

    By Blogger Ezsuds, at 04 April, 2007 15:10  

  • I'm still wondering why Brian wiped my comments.

    I mean, I only pointed out that the article he linked, copied, and pasted (and then pretty much wholly made stuff up about) stated very clearly in Franken's own words that he "loves" the campaigning, that he doesn't necessarily like the fundraising, but is comfortable with it.

    Franken himself laid-out his own state of mind about the campaign, negating C&P-loney's "wonder"ing about Franken's state of mind.

    In short - he made it all up.

    Nevermind the fact that the bulk of his post is someone else' work, as usual.

    Why did those comments get wiped, C&P-loney? I know you have trouble stating the truth, but you also want to restrict others from reading it?

    By Blogger TJ, at 04 April, 2007 15:17  

  • 2) Average Per Day 1,393

    Sam Seder would KILL for those numbers.

    Kidding ... slightly ...

    By Blogger BF, at 04 April, 2007 16:24  

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