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Al Franken takes over the U.S. Senate floor to explain a newspaper cartoon to the waiting nation

All we can say is thank goodness Minnesota's newest Democratic U.S. senator, Al Franken, was on duty Thursday.

We were poring through one of America's most glorious man-caused treasures -- the 31 years of C-SPAN video archives, which The Ticket detailed with effusive praise here earlier this year.

And we realized suddenly that somehow we had inexplicably missed the comedian's detailed explanation of a newspaper editorial cartoon enlarged so that he could identify the symbols and characters in it so the elderly senators could see it. The current White House's pedantry is apparently infectious.

Additionally, Franken takes many moments to explain the drawing and its symbols as documentation for his argument for more government regulation of yet another part of the financial industry.

No, this is not a "Saturday Night Live" skit. This is the real thing from the Senate floor where the 100 members are paid $174,000 -- each -- for this work. The folks back home must be very proud of the honorable gentleman.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Video courtesy of C-SPAN

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That girl behind the sign is laughing and trying to hide it. Oh how embarrassing for Franken.

Al Frankenstain is so stupid...that I can't believe that even ACORN'S "DEAD VOTERS" would've wasted a vote on this pile of sophistry.

This should surprise no one; Franken is an idiot. Must make the folks of Minnesota proud, huh?

I'm trying to pay attention to what he's saying, but he's so monotone and boring I just can't listen. Plus, the meaning of the cartoon is so obvious, no person over 10 years old would require any explanation. And to think that Senators aren't acutely attuned to public opinion is absurd. That's the only thing they do pay attention to, as it's the way they know how to pander to the voters, so they get reelected; their primary goal in life. Second only to amassing power and money.

I don't know about his solution, but I agree with the problem he is describing. We used to recognize conflicts of interest with acts like Glass-Steagall, but we got rid of all of them. We need to bring them back and create some new walls based on the innovations and developments of the financial industry.

Isn't this EXACTLY the problem with home appraisals in the real estate game? Oh, wait--how about the movie reviews written by employees of companies related corporately to the production of films? Oh, wait, how about the congressional reps and senators who take campaign funds from the companies they regulate? How about the voters who accept unemployment and health care from the Congress they elect? WHAT A SYSTEM!? Help! We need more Government!

I have to admit the skit was a hoot.
Senator Franken was being facetiously meticulous in explaining that "you wouldn't want garbage on the ice" and pointing out the bits and pieces of rubbish and so on. He was making the point that common sense should prevail over obscure legislative minutiae, and that the interests of the common people should be the concern of financial regulations. It worked as comedy.
However, the issue he was addressing is a bit complex for his routine to have worked as effective debate. If he was trying to actually get something done I doubt if he was very successful. Still, I thank him for calling the assembled congressmen idiots. That's what they are.

The Government should regulate Hollywood. Limit the pay of entertainers. It's not fair that stars should make so much money. Limit what they can spend on movies as well.

This Franken guy is a disgrace to the people of Minnesota and to the nation. He is a traitor, a communist, and a fool. My God, what has happened to the US Senate?

With all due respect, Sen. Joe McCarthy used precisely this kind of heavy-handed, ham-fisted, earnest yet falsely genial pedantry to bash those he accused of opposing him, and thus America.

Franken, like McCarthy, oversimplifies and denigrates the motives of those who oppose his policies. Financiers can't simply be looking out for their own interests, no, they are actively engaged in cheating us all. Like McCarthy, he believes any opposition to himself is an opposition to truth and justice.

Franken impresses less and less the more one sees him.

Obviously what he's talking about is creating a new board to decide which business credit rating company would give a seeker of a rating its first rating. So as you might expect, he's adding more layers to this process - which is not necessary. We're talking about S & P, Moody's and the like and how they rate credit worthiness of businesses that are traded on various stock exchanges.

If you believe for a minute that people didn't make fortunes in the subprime mortgage markets, I have a bridge to sell to you. So, any high ratings by S&P, Moody's etc. would be justified as the 'products' (those bundles of subprime mortgages) were making money for sellers/investors until the sh_t hit the fan.

Its not the credit rating companies that are at fault here. The fault lies with Fannie, Freddie and Bill Clinton's administration as well as our congress for demanding those subprime mortgages be made or banks would suffer the consequences.

One must note that every aspect of finance is coming under the rule of congress' eager finger to avoid doing anything about the root cause of the problem & regulate them instead.

No one on the left is even trying to put Dodd, Barney Frank and the rest of them behind bars or even to just oust them from Congress, how about from the committees they sit on. No one on the left is willing to reform Frannie and Freddie, audit them & the Fed.

No one on the left is trying to shine a light on the list of shareholders the Fed has and has had over its life - this is a quasi governmental entity - I for one would like to know the names of the politicans who have/had shares in the Fed so I could compare their voting records to that list. No entity is above being audited.

Instead we get this jerk trying to set up another layer to what already is in existence. S & P and Moody's would not be in business if their ratings weren't accurate at the time they were given. Like it or not, we can't say that about Congress, The Fed, Fannie & Freddie.

We don't need more layers to arriving at credit ratings. And we certainly don't need this jerk at the podium in congress (small letter 'c' used delibrately). In case you don't believe me just take a look at the SEC & the dozen or so agencies that were set up each time the SEC failed to do its job protecting the public. Did they protect us against Bernie Madoff and the what, 2 dozen who like him engaged in massive Ponzi schemes? Answer of course is NO. But all of these people have high paying jobs at taxpayer expense.

We are in dire need of a massive overhaul of our government and that can't happen unless we oust the leftists/progressives/socialists etc. and elect very conservative people who are tightwads by nature.

So, yes, its ridiculous to have Al Franken explaining a cartoon to congress (who itself has become a cartoon, and not a good one). Its more important to stop the leftists among us and we are far more outnumbered than you may know.


He's good enough, he's smart enough...and dog gonnit, people like him....Seems Al baby should go back to his comedic roots......A US senator should have some semblance of intelligence and an ability to articulate the issues.....

By the way - I have to add that anything Chris Dodd writes has only one real use - to line the cat's litter box.

You can not have people throw in 1000.00's into their retirement funds and get millions. Retirement fund should be Caveot emptore (buyer beware). You want to be conservative on your money you have less, want to take a chance go for it. look at Greece and watch the rest of Europe go!!!

Al Franken, what a joke. The banks that loan the money shouldn't have any say in how they rate borrowers? Leave it to the government who forced them into loaning to folks who couldn't pay the mortgage?? You liberals are amazing. Can't wait for Carrot Top to be elected to Congress.

Stuart Smalley,
You're Not good enough. You're Not smart enough. And Nobody likes you.

A fish skeleton, a banana....."you don't want those on the ice". LOL. Franken is such a tool You're getting what you asked for Minnesota. Enjoy the next 5 1/2 years of this farce.

Why would anybody care what a fool like Franken thinks?

Did he have Scotch for breakfast? Drunken idiot baffoon!

1. only companies that extend credit should be allowed to report to agencies; with full exclusion of medical bills & utilities & cable companies, etc.

2. credit ratings should ONLY be used in determining one's credit level or ability to borrow, NOTHING ELSE; no other applications should be allowed to spill into other areas of our personal lives. RETAIL use only.

3. This AAA Horse's ASS doesn't have any interest or idea in what caused the tumbling meltdown. After all, didn't he "attend Hahvad University?"

4. do not get upset, just vote the moron out.

5. yeah, he does sound a bit drunk

Way to go Al

Just another dumb ass BOOMER!

Coke addled moron...whatever brain cells he had are long gone. He's perfect for The Democratic Congress.

I agree with congress senator frankin. What he said was important. And he needed to explain it to all the dumb republicans. I voted for frankin and I will do it again next year. This one time when I was watching judge judy or maybe it was jerry springer or it could also have been oprah I saw this thing that they were talking about and it was so cool but anyway it was about how politicians are always lying and how thats bad and all but what was like most important about it to me was that congress senatorperson franking he doesn't lie and so thats why I vote for him and you should too.

Apple core, fish head skeleton, a banana....What NO ACORN?

Just another example of someone who needs a real job - - - one that adds wealth to the political entity we call the U.S.

I like it. Al's still a comedian and is making light of it while still getting the point across. We in the great American masses are steaming mad and would like to kill many in Congress and Wall Street. Thank Heaven there are still cool minds like Al's to calmly try to change things for the better. Are you listening Congress?

What a COMPLETE buffoon!!???!!1

He knows how dumb the American people are and he want's them to understand...that's why he uses can see and comprehend. They OBVIOUSLY cant understand letters or words, especially like associating words with people. For instance: Obama/Islam...Obama/Traitor...Obama/hates USA...and so forth. They STILL voted for him not knowing 1 thing about him. Including his REAL NAME.

One has to ask how a fool like Franken managed to find himself in the Senate. It's simple: Voter Fraud! How many people did the Democrats bus into Minnesota to register and vote on election day? It doesn't matter if they are discovered later. Since ballots are secret, the votes cannot be withdrawn, and the phony votes still count (and let's not even talk about the photocopied ballots that were also counted during Franken's recount process because officials couldn't tell the difference between the originals and the copies). Al Capone (of Chicago fame-hmmmm is there a pattern here???) said "Vote Early, Vote Often". This has become the mantra of the Democrat Party. As one who works with absentee voting on a regular basis, I can honestly say that the fraud we observe is mind boggling. Not only do dead people vote absentee, but so do those in comas, those suffering dementia, and those who don't even know what planet they live on, as well as those who are not even citizens of the US. Guess which way these people vote???? Try to do something about it and you are accused of "voter intimidation" and "disenfranchisement" by the same people who viciously object to having to show an ID proving who you are when you vote. It doesn't matter to them that the fraudulent votes disenfranchise legitimate votes. This is what gives us fools like Al Franken (and Barack Obama).

I can see Al running for President of the United States in 2012. Al keeps reminding of the late Senator Ted Kennedy in 1980. Al will be cheered by the far left, just like Ted did. Al will split the Democrat Party soon and it will be split for the next few years.

Whether tired, drunk, or just a failed comic gone to hell in Washington; on this one, Franken is correct. Blame the fat cat bankstas on Wall St... He uses a cartoon to make his point because he knows that America is now so dumbed-down by the MSM, that no one will listen long enough to 'get it' otherwise... Bottom line: Know your real enemy.

The commentator on Al Franken's depiction is an idiot. Although Franken is supporting the Dodd Bill - a strike against him (as opposed to the legitimate "audit the fed" bill S. 607) -- at least he is picking a substantive issue and explaining it well.

Good thing it wasn't one of those 18th century "political wood carvings" with scrolls that say "Free Soilers" and banners coming out of people's stomachs and all.

Franken makes an excellent point with the Toles cartoon about serious conflict of interest between rating agencies and those selling the junk that is rated. Too bad you are too dumb to get it.

You complain that Franken took up precious time to make an excellent point about conflict of interest in a manner that even you should be able to understand. Instead you note that Senators are paid $174,000 -- each -- for this kind of work.

So you like it better when Mitch McConnell takes the floor to tell lies and just say "no" to anything helpful?

I am sooooo proud to be from MN...
We have sent another successful Senator to look after out well being...
Only 5 more years.

Thank you Minnesota.

He's drunk or just suffered a mild stroke!

Ah.... the idiot that singlehandedly made me stop watching SNL. I wish it WAS funny watching people with average intelligence who are convinced they are geniuses explaining the mundane and obvious -- as often as not incorrectly --to people too polite to tell them they are simply conceited *ssh*les. Anybody else remember Dylan in "Don't Look Back" telling an English art and music critic with 100 times his knowledge and experience of his vast superiourity assuming apparently that any man in his 70's was never a cocky ignorant punk with more balls than brains? Now THAT was funny in 1967. Reading the comments here by people who actually admire the cretin's blather at least explains how Obama got elected. The average IQ must have sunk into the 70's.

Oh my, was he drunk? He only slurs his speech a little bit but the content of his presentation is so low brow I'm embarrassed for him, the democrat party and the people of Minnesota.

I'm from Minnesota. Don't look to this state for political acuity or leadership.

Since when do the rating agencies have no interest in being right? That's only conceivable if there's legislation prohibiting or else strongly inhibiting entry by one that either is interested in being accurate or behaves as if it were.

What business would want to pay an agency to provide a good rating for itself when there's another agency that everyone trusts for its accurate job?

Dems have no imagination, so they go for the obvious intervention.

G-d forbid they should favor deregulation.

LOL!!!!!,im a republican,but i would vote for this guy any day,pure comic gold,hes explaining a cartoon on cspan!!

God forbid that he spice up all of that dry, academic, boring, but important, talk he's doing with a silly visual aid.

He sounds sensible to me. What's wrong with political cartoons?

He resorted to the infamous "Wookie Defense"

... and it STILL does NOT make sense...

Senator Al Franken is a National Treasure! He is so much better employed talking sense to the Senate than on Air America.
I finally understand the role of Credit Rating Agencies (and the "Big Three") in costing our country a decade of prosperity during this Great Recession.
Speaking the simple unvarnished, unmodified truth to power may not always be rewarding to a politician.
Accurate ratings clearly have not been rewarding for Credit Rating Agencies.
Change is needed!
Leo Ray Ingle

Great stuff. "No, this is not a "Saturday Night Live" skit." No, it's not. What was the point to this post then? To show Andrew Malcolm is a partisan hack and hopelessly brain dead? Maybe try arguing against his broader point next time.

How in the Hell did this Goof become a Senator.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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