Franken comes to Brattleboro

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(Host) For Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, visiting Brattleboro was something like coming home to the progressive heartland.

He’s in Vermont to stump for Congressman Bernie Sanders, and he broadcast his radio talk show from the Latchis Theater in downtown Brattleboro.

VPR’s Susan Keese was there.

(Keese) An hour before his show the line outside the theater stretched around the corner and up a side street.

(Crowd sounds)

(Man) “I think Al Franken ll fit right in here in Brattleboro.”
(Man 2) ” cause Al Franken, I think, has views that are similar to a lot of people in Vermont, concerned about America’s future and they want change “

(Keese) The administration-bashing, sometimes over-the-top progressive host seemed gleeful about the prospects for change.

(Franken) “Today we’ll be treated to the sweet smell of maple syrup and an intoxicating whiff of the approaching democratic tidal wave. Joining me today……”

(Keese) Franken’s three-hour program had an all-star cast, starting with Vermont Congressmen and Senate Candidate Bernie Sanders. Franken is also doing a fundraiser for Sanders this weekend in Burlington.

Senator Patrick Leahy joined the program by phone from Washington. Democratic national chairman Howard Dean joined from Tennessee. Dean is launching a state-by state campaign to forge a Democratic platform.

(Franken) “I love that you’re bringing it to the states because it seems that Americans are ahead of Washington in terms of things like energy and health care…”


(Keese) Franken also interviewed Newfane woodworker and selectboard member Dan DeWalt, who started the movement to impeach President Bush.

DeWalt may have foreshadowed how difficult forging a Democratic and Progressive consensus can be. He criticized both Sanders and Democratic leaders for their chilly reception to grassroots efforts to initiate impeachment.

(Dewalt) “The Democrats are going Oh my god, these people are talking about impeachment and they’re wrong, you know…”

(Keese) Franken said he was actually of two minds about impeachment. He said the administration should be investigated. But he said it was most important that Democrats take back Congress. And that the left should focus first on energy, health care, corporate profits and other outside-the-belt-way issues that hit people where they live.

Republicans weren’t thrilled by Franken’s appearance. A party leader said the comedian is the kind of political bomb thrower that most Vermonters don’t appreciate.

Franken admitted that he’s considering a 2008 bid for the U.S. Senate seat formely held by the Late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota.

And he acknowledged that he might have to tone down what he called a tendency to hyperbole’ if he decides to do that.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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