- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 27, 2009

When Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, was a comedian, he was never that funny. Take the title of his book “Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot” - that’s some high-quality humor there. Clever, daring and yet so second grade. But when Minnesotans elected him to the Senate, Mr. Franken promised that those days were behind him and that he would work hard to win over his colleagues. So far, his presence in the Senate is making it a less civil place. If the old Mr. Franken were to write a book about it, the title might be “Al Franken Is a Dirty Rotten Liar.”

Twice recently, Mr. Franken’s obnoxiousness was on public display. On Dec. 14, after having missed most of a talk by Sen. John Thune, Mr. Franken tore into him, time after time accusing the South Dakota Republican of being dishonest by claiming that the Senate bill would hike taxes immediately while delaying the “spending benefits.”

“We are entitled to our own opinions. We’re not entitled to our own facts,” Mr. Franken repeated ad nauseam. However, the Senate newbie didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.

What justified all of Mr. Franken’s yelling and boorish behavior? What evidence did Mr. Franken have that Mr. Thune was wrong? His first example is a regulation that starts immediately: a ban on insurance companies imposing lifetime limits on benefits. Mr. Franken doesn’t understand the difference between government spending and the government forcing businesses to spend money.

Mr. Franken’s next example was a tax credit. Apparently, the simple distinction between taxing and spending is too much for the “Saturday Night Live”- educated lawmaker.

To compound Mr. Franken’s rude and ignorant display, he refused to allow the experienced Mr. Thune to help him understand budgeting basics. The Republican offered to bring out a chart that he had previously used to make things clear, but Mr. Franken wasn’t interested in facts as much as cheap attacks.

On Dec. 17, Mr. Franken followed up with a jab at Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, preventing the senior senator from taking an additional minute to finish his remarks, which is a routine request. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican known for crossing the aisle to work with Democrats, said Mr. Franken’s boorish behavior was something that he hadn’t seen in “around 20 some years” in the Senate. Democrats eventually explained that they simply wanted to rush through the health care bill and couldn’t afford another minute. If this were true, Mr. Franken should have explained himself at the time of his remarks.

The list of such obnoxious acts is getting long.

During the summer, Mr. Franken reportedly savaged T. Boone Pickens, a guest at a Democratic policy lunch, for helping fund the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth five years ago.

There is too much partisanship already in Washington. With President Obama completely ignoring his promises to work with Republicans, senators such as Mr. Franken are making an already bad situation worse.