Al Franken - Political Activism Prior To Election

Political Activism Prior To Election

According to an article by Richard Corliss published in Time, "In a way, Franken has been running for office since the late '70s." Corliss also hinted at Franken's "possibly ironic role as a relentless self-promoter" in proclaiming the 1980s "the Al Franken Decade" and saying, "Vote for me, Al Franken. You'll be glad you did!" In 1999, Franken released a parody book, Why Not Me?, detailing his campaign for the Presidency in 2000. He had been a strong supporter of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone and was deeply affected by the Senator's death in a plane crash shortly before the 2002 Senate election. After the funeral, Rush Limbaugh and several other commentators identified by Franken as "rightwing bloggers" and "Republicans" accused the organizers and participants of Wellstone's remembrance ceremony of using the tragedy for political purposes. Conservative columnists Peggy Noonan and Chris Caldwell asserted that 20,000 people booed Trent Lott. Franken, who attended, denied there was widespread jeering: "Along with everyone else, I cried, I laughed, I cheered. It was, to my mind, a beautiful four-hour memorial. I didn't boo. Neither did 22,800 of the some 23,000 people there." In Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Franken wrote that Noonan and Caldwell had later told him that they had not personally been at the memorial service. Franken felt that "the right wing line on the Wellstone Memorial" was accepted by some "mainstream" journalists such as Howard Kurtz.

Franken said he learned that 21% of Americans received most of their news from talk radio, an almost exclusively conservative medium. Said Franken, "I didn't want to sit on the sidelines, and I believed Air America could make a difference." In November 2003, Franken talked about moving to his home state of Minnesota to run for the Senate. The seat once held by Wellstone, then occupied by Republican Norm Coleman, was to be contested in the 2008 election. In 2005, Franken announced his move to Minnesota: "I can tell you honestly, I don't know if I'm going to run, but I'm doing the stuff I need to do in order to do it."

In late 2005, Franken started his own political action committee, called Midwest Values PAC. By early 2007, the PAC raised more than $1 million.

Franken was the subject of the 2006 documentary film Al Franken: God Spoke, which premiered in April 2006 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. It was released nationally on September 13 that year.

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