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RNSC: Al Franken Laughs at the Disabled

Al Franken has been the target of some of the ugliest political ads of 2008, courtesy of the Republican National Senatorial Committee. This one really takes the cake. The voiceover claims that Franken "humiliates minorities", "demeans women", "writes pornography", and "laughs at the disabled," amongst other defects.  

Life imitates art, I guess. Here’s a transcript of a Saturday Night Live sketch from the 1990s featuring Al Franken as a political analyst discussing negative ads on the fake news broadcast "Weekend Update with Norm MacDonald":

Al Franken: Uh, yes, Norm. This appears to be the roughest campaign year ever.

Norm MacDonald: Negative campaigning?

Al Franken: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I’ve been covering politics for a long time and this is, without a doubt, the most mean-spirited year I’ve ever seen. Now, take for example, Massachusetts [scattered applause] where Senate challenger Mitt Romney is spending millions of dollars on attack ads like this one. Watch.

[Dissolve to ad with photo of a ruddy-faced Ted Kennedy accompanied by minor key music and a deep-throated, smarmy announcer’s voice over.]

Announcer V/O: On October 14th, 1978, Ted Kennedy is seen puking in the parking lot of the U.S. Capitol. … On February 8th, 1983, Kennedy relieves himself on the leg of a Georgetown waitress. … Two years later, Kennedy passes out on the floor of the Senate, soiling himself in the process. … Kennedy — He’s a big, fat drunk. …

[Cheers and applause as we dissolve back to Al and Norm at the desk.]

Norm MacDonald: Yeah. Yeah, that was tough.

Al Franken: It’s a tough year. Tough year. … And it’s really become a no-holds barred contest. Uh, watch this. This is one of Kennedy’s attack ads on Romney.

[Dissolve to another ad with minor key music and a deep-throated, smarmy announcer’s voice over.]

Announcer V/O: [Image of Brigham Young] Mormon prophet Brigham Young believed that a man ought to have as many wives as he wants. Apparently, Mitt Romney agrees. [Side by side images of Young and Romney] After all, he’s a Mormon. [Upbeat trumpet fanfare as we dissolve to a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Ted Kennedy.] Ted Kennedy — One Wife at a Time. …

[Cheers and applause as we dissolve back to Al and Norm at the desk.]

Norm MacDonald: Okay, so Massachusetts, then, is the nation’s dirtiest race.

Al Franken: Oh, no. No, uh, I want you to watch this one. It’s a Huffington ad run in California and the key here is that this is run only on Christian cable stations. Watch this.

[Dissolve to a third ad with photo of Diane Feinstein accompanied by even darker minor key music and an even more snide announcer’s voice over.]

Announcer V/O: Diane Feinstein is against prayer in school. And no wonder. She’s a Jew.

[Dissolve back to Al and Norm at the desk, both shaking their heads.]

Norm MacDonald: Man, that was – that – that was ugly. …

Al Franken: It was ugly. It’s an ugly year. …

Norm MacDonald: Well, that has to be the most unprincipled ad in the country.

Al Franken: You know, that’s what I thought, Norm … I saw this Pataki ad run right here in New York, an attack ad on Governor Cuomo. Let’s watch this.

[Dissolve to a fourth ad, similar to the others, with a photo of Mario Cuomo.]

Announcer V/O: Mario Cuomo says he’s tough on crime. But what Mario Cuomo will not tell you is that in 1968, he was involved in a chainsaw massacre. … [Footage of a chain saw being switched on and someone brutally thrusting the chainsaw into a man’s crotch] Cuomo — He’s a Murderer. …

[Cheers and applause as we dissolve back to Al and a stunned Norm.]

Al Franken: That’s – That’s a negative ad. …

Norm MacDonald: Man, well, at least, that’s, uh, that’s the worst one.

Al Franken: Yeah, but, uh, remember, Norm, there’s still two and a half weeks left in the campaign. [grins broadly]

Norm MacDonald: Thanks, Al. Al Franken, ladies and gentlemen! [Cheers and applause, Norm shakes hands with Al]

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Lindsay Beyerstein

Lindsay Beyerstein