Al Franken, Giant of the Senate - Al Franken
Finished this about a week before "Al Franken, Infamous Groper" exploded across the news.

I've been vaguely interested in Al Franken because his name has been floated repeatedly as a potential 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, and as long as we're headed in the direction of political farce, there's something delicious about the idea of a 2020 election composed of "SNL" versus "The Apprentice."

I listened to this book on audio, and I have to say that if you plan on reading it, definitely go for audio. Al Franken does the narration, and I think a lot of the jokes just work better when he's reading them. Apart from anything else, his Mitch McConnell voice is hilarious. 

When I started the book, I excitedly told a friend who is from MN that I wanted their senator to be my president. As I actually started to delve in deeper, though, my opinion on the matter shifted. Part of it was the partisanship. Anyone who write a book called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right is perhaps not the best person to bring the country together. But what impressed me more is that he genuinely seems to think that "Democrat" means inherently good and "Republican" means inherently evil, to the point that his plan to save America involves Democrats as supermajority in all branches of government. Anyone who has spent much time with my reviews probably knows where my political leanings are, but I don't think that DNC automatically makes you on the side of the good and the just.

But -- and again I feel quite smug about my prescience, and only wish I'd written this review two weeks ago-- one of my bigger complaints about him actually had to do with his treatment of women during the "Porn-o-rama" fiasco of his first run for office. If you weren't aware, Franken nearly lost the election because of a story that broke about an article he wrote for Playboy magazine called "Porn-o-rama" and featuring a certain amount of degradation of women. Oh, and the rape jokes he made during his time at SNL. Franken, after whining that the Republicans took his jokes out of context and put them through their industrial-strength "dehumorizer", defends himself with the argument that nothing--including rape--should be off-limits for comedy. And even when he talks about his apology for the "Porn-o-rama" thing, he doesn't seem to really get it. He talks about pacifying humorless feminists (TM) without really seeming to understand why anyone is upset. 

For the record, I am a humorless feminist. And even though the only side of the story I've heard is Franken's, I was totally unamused and unmollified by his "I'm sorry some people were offended"-type "apology," which is not actually an apology for his actions but rather a regret for our overreaction and too-tender feelings. So anyway, I ended up being vaguely irritated with Franken, all the more so because it seemed to me that he just didn't get it. You don't get to proclaim that you "respect women" and pull out your wife and daughter as exhibits A and B. You don't get to blame it all on context and Republican Dehumorizers. And you don't get to nominate yourself as Defender of Women. It's your actions--and history--that will decide that.

So, long story short, even though I did like him, I'd already given up on Franken as a nominee before this new story broke. From what I learned from his book, the idea of him groping an unconscious woman as a joke strikes me as entirely in character, as does his initial "I'm sorry you're a liar and you're making a big deal out of nothing"-style apology. As for his second apology, he did finally get one thing right: it doesn't matter what he remembers or what he intended. And I hope that this time, that lesson sinks in. 

It's a sad truth that much of comedy has been at the expense of women and often involves their objectification and degradation, and that rape culture has invaded almost every aspect of our society. Given the current environment and various dark hints, I'm genuinely betting on who will be the next to fall. I worry that prosecuting past non-criminal aggressions will stoke resentments and worsen the inevitable anti-feminist backlash. (Although if we keep pushing in this direction, we might find ourselves with an almost empty and almost entirely female congress, which would be kind of interesting.)

As for me, I've had "Well, he's never gon' be President now / That's one less thing to worry about" stuck in my head intermittently since I heard the news. I've had enough of presidential farce as it is.