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Good enough, smart enough, but the tax man doesn't like him

May 2, 2008 | 11:32 am

Remember Stuart Smalley, the smarmy self-help therapist that comedian Al Franken played on "Saturday Night Live"? One has to wonder what advice Smalley would be giving Franken these days as his Senate bid in Minnesota has sprung a leak. The cause? A hole in the hull in the form of tax troubles.

Franken, who also was a radio talk show host on left-leaning Air America, reportedly paid $70,000 in back taxes owed in 17 states, a problem for which he blamed his tax accountant. Some $5,800 of that was owed to California. The underlying issues are too convoluted to go into here -- we invite the truly curious to click through the links for the full dissections. And it's interesting to note that all this began with an aggressive blogger.

For Ticket readers, the significance lies in the make-up of the  U.S. Senate  (okay, and the chance to snicker at Stuart Smalley). Franken is considered the Democratic front runner in Minnesota to challenge Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. And if indeed it is a Democratic year at the polls come November, Coleman could be vulnerable -- offering a seat pick up for the Democrats in the Senate, where it holds power only by virtue of independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders voting Democratic more than Republican.

But having a candidate with tax troubles isn't going to help the Democrats' chances there.

-- Scott Martelle