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Al Franken

U.S. Senator / Comedian

Born: 21 May 1951
Birthplace: New York, New York
Best known as: The liberal comedian who was elected senator from Minnesota in 2008
Al Franken is the Emmy-winning comedy writer and political satirist who became a U.S. Senator from Minnesota in 2009. Franken graduated from Harvard, then started his comedy career (with partner Tom Davis) in New York in the early 1970s. He was a busy writer and performer for the TV comedy show Saturday Night Live (in 1975-80 and again from 1985-95), where he was best known for his character Stuart Smalley, a self-help expert whose signature line was "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!" Franken then worked for CNN, doing commentary for the 1988 Democratic National Convention. He teamed with columnist Arianna Huffington in 1992 and 1996 to cover the presidential elections for cable television's Comedy Central, and had great success with a series of funny but gloves-off political books, including Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot and Other Observations (1996) and Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (2003). He was a Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 2003, where he researched and wrote the best-selling Lies, a satirical attack on the policies of U.S. president George W. Bush and conservative media (which sparked a feud with Bill O'Reilly). Franken served as a big-name host for the 2004 start-up of the liberal radio network Air America, a post he left in early 2007 to run for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota's 2008 election. Franken, a Democrat, ran against incumbent senator Norm Coleman, a Republican. Franken had a slim lead after all the votes were counted, but appeals and objections by Coleman led to months of delays. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously on 30 June 2009 that Franken had received the most votes and deserved to be declared the winner. Coleman conceded the same day, and Franken was formally seated in the Senate on 7 July 2009.

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