Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stuart Saves Minnesota Part III

Comic-writer Al Franken [left] and Sen. Norm Coleman (R, Minn) [right] continue to battle over Coleman's seat in the U.S. Senate while the folks in Minnesota long for the days of Jesse Ventura.

Many moons ago, you may recall a blog entry about that goofy ‘ol senate race in Minnesota between Al Franken and the incumbent and disturbing-looking Sen. Norm Coleman [R]. Surely, you have figured that issue was resolved a long, long time ago and one of the men was declared the winner, right? I mean – this is America for Christ’s sake. It’s not like we need to send Jimmy Carter into Minnesota to guarantee a free and fair election, right?

Well, Mr. Carter perhaps should have made that trip to Minneapolis folks, because our northern brethren still can’t figure out whom in the fucking hell won that election back in November between Franken and Coleman. Philosophically, of course, we know that whoever won, the one loser is the whole thing is the state of Minnesota, which will be stuck with whichever one of these goofballs occupies the senate office in Washington.

Indeed, maybe that’s why Minnesotans can’t decide who won the election: they don’t want either of them. Well, whatever the reason, the ridiculousness of the situation is lost on no one, least of all the residents of the state, who fear they will be cast as a bunch of frozen, dim-witted knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers who can’t count to four.

This is a perfect description of the two men fighting for the office. Franken became semi-famous as a comedy writer-turned-political-pundit and Coleman has served in the Senate since defeating former Vice President Mondale in 2002. Aside from being the answer to a trivia question [Which Minnesota politician is so disturbing-looking that voters choose Jesse “The Body” Ventura over him in the 1998 gubernatorial election?], Coleman’s undistinguished career has included an even less notable tenure on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a lot of bromides to the Right.

You can see, then, why Minnesota perhaps isn’t in a big hurry to send either one of these geniuses to Washington. A three-judge panel declared Franken the winner on Monday by 312 votes out of roughly 3 million cast. And that was after a seven-week trial. In about three seconds, Coleman announced that he would appeal to the state’s highest court, almost guaranteeing that Minnesota will not get its second senator until the Congressional recess begins this summer.

No one is more frustrated about the impasse than President Obama [except, perhaps, Mrs. Franken, who no doubt was looking forward to Al being out of the house more]. With Franken in the Senate, he would be the 59th Democrat, putting the party just one shy of what they will need to stop Republicans from blocking bills through procedural means.

Also frustrated is the man who was spared from becoming John McCain’s running-mate last summer, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty [R]. Pawlenty is considering whether to seek re-election next year, as well as whether to run for president in 2012. Under Minnesota state law, Pawlenty has to certify the election result before a senator is seated. Needless to say, Pawlenty is getting it from both sides: from Republicans in Washington who want him to do everything to keep Coleman in the Senate, as well as from those Minnesotans eager for the race to end with Franken the declared winner as per the three-judge panel.

Meanwhile, both Franken and Coleman are in limbo, frantically continuing to raise money as if the campaign never ended. Neither man can lay claim to Senate offices in Washington or Minneapolis – meaning that even as the incumbent, Coleman has been forced from his offices since his actual term expired January 3rd. Neither man can begin hiring staff or participate in any official way with Senate proceedings. Not to mention that both of these guys have been out there raising boatloads of money to pay mounting legal bills.

What’s worse, Coleman has gone from just looking weird to actually acting weird. In some strange awakening of his heritage, every morning now he puts tefillin — black leather boxes containing scrolls — on his arm as part of a morning Jewish prayer ritual. “I bind myself every morning,” Coleman told the New York Times. “I bind myself to God every morning because it’s in His hands.” Insert anti-Semitic joke here (which, no doubt, is what Franken would say Republicans want to do in the Senate).

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