Al Franken.

Why is the DNC dissing Al Franken?

Recently announced Democratic National Convention speakers such as Jimmy Carter, Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy share at least one characteristic in common: They're not very funny. Meanwhile, someone who has coaxed a laugh or two in his day, and who's planning to be in Denver for the DNC -- Minnesota senatorial candidate Al Franken -- hasn't been offered any podium time.

Why not? Maybe because despite Minnesota's traditional liberalism, Franken (who spoke to Westword in 2006 when he was still on Air America Radio) has spent most of the year badly trailing his opponent, Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. That may be changing to some degree. Minnesota's KTSP-TV notes that in the latest Survey USA poll, Franken's behind by just seven points, as opposed to last month's thirteen-point deficit -- and a Rasmussen Reports survey calls the race a statistical dead heat, even though assorted factors continue to lean in Coleman's favor. One possible reason was recently floated by the New York Sun: Minnesotans perceive Franken to be a Big Apple carpetbagger rather than one of their own.

Whatever the case, Franken is expected to fly to Denver on August 24, appear at a fundraiser and speak to the Minnesota delegation, then return in time to spend the majority of the week at the Minnesota State Fair. Meanwhile, Amy Klobuchar, the current Democratic senator from Minnesota, has been given a DNC speaking slot.

Guess that means Dems don't expect Franken to join Klobuchar's club -- and they could be right. But he would've at least livened up the convention's snooze-worthy roster of officially sanctioned speakers. -- Michael Roberts

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