Everyone’s favorite (or least favorite; your pick) Saturday Night Live comic-turned-United States Senator Al Franken recently weighed in on who he believes are Washington, D.C.’s funniest lawmakers. And — gasp — he dared to call out former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.
Franken, the Minnesota senator and a cum laude graduate of Harvard College, gave a recent Chicago Tribune interview to promote his new book Giant of the Senate. He said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, are two of the screamingly hilarious-est. As for the least funny among his lawmaking confederates, he cited an anecdote about meeting medical doctor and now-former U.S. legislator Coburn.
“When I first arrived,” Franken told the Tribune, “I asked [Coburn] if I could buy him lunch. He said, ‘Buy me breakfast.’ I said, ‘OK; let’s just have fun and talk about anything we want.’”
During that morning meal, Franken jokingly asked Coburn if any formal education was required to become a doctor in Oklahoma, to which Coburn replied, straight-faced, that yes, one must complete medical school.
“I said, ‘Tom, that’s a joke.’ I tried to teach him what a joke was and the proper reaction to a joke,” Franken said. “He wrote me a note afterward saying he’d had a lot of fun.”
Dr. No isn’t funny?! Clearly, Franken has never read any of the senator’s Wastebook reports! His annual litanies detail federally funded projects he deemed irresponsible government spending.
Like Chicken-Fried News’ resident grandpa always reminds us, opinions are like rectal sphincters — almost everybody has one. Similarly, everyone has a different idea of just what wasteful spending actually is — just like Franken can believe Coburn is unfunny. But we say otherwise because the projects Coburn uncovered could sometimes be so absurd that they would garner chuckles from even the most partisan of politicians. His last report, 2015’s Wastebook: The Farce Awakens, included such things like a $1 million project studying monkeys running in a hamster ball on a treadmill, a $1.3 million study on how a koozie keeps beer cold and $780,000 to research college students and pizza addiction.
Still not convinced, Franken? Search “Sen. Coburn Loses Bet, Belts Elton John Song” on YouTube to see Oklahoma’s fun-loving politician serenading Florida Sen. Bill Nelson with Elton John’s 1972 hit tune “Rocket Man” after losing a bet on the 2009 college football national championship game.
So maybe Coburn isn’t Harvard cum laude fancy-pants SNL funny, but Oklahoma isn’t really a fancy-pants funny type of state. Perhaps his dry wit over breakfast just came too early in the day for the Minnesota lawmaker to appreciate.
Don’t worry, Coburn; the fine comic critics here at Chicken-Fried News recognize your understated, proud contrarian humor.