- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2018

Bill Maher on Friday urged former comedian and senator Al Franken to reenter politics hardly eight months since leaving office, calling his ousting over sexual misconduct allegations an “overreaction” that cost Democrats a potential White House candidate possibly capable of defeating President Trump in 2020.

“We need someone who should shred Trump like a standup takes down a heckler, because Trump is a heckler. And to fight him, we need a comedian,” he said during his weekly HBO program, “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

“That is why tonight, after serious thought and consideration, I am officially announcing that I, Bill Maher, think it would be a great idea if Al Franken got back in the game,” he added.

A two-term senator for Minnesota, Mr. Franken resigned in early January after being accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women amid the #MeToo movement that spurred allegations against several high profile men in late 2017.

“America always overreacts and then has buyer’s remorse,” said Mr. Maher. “And certainly, one of the all-time overreactions was Al Franken, sex predator.”

The liberal HBO host proceeded to rehash the allegations that surfaced prior to Mr. Franken’s resignation, downplaying some while disregarding others.

“It started with that picture,” Mr. Maher said in reference to a photograph released in Nov. 2017 by model and radio host Leeann Tweeden. Taken more than a decade earlier during a USO tour, the picture depicted the future senator placing his hands on or near Ms. Tweeden’s chest while she was asleep — as though he were about to grope her breasts — promoting outrage and ultimately additional allegations.

“It’s a joke, he apologized for it, no one died,” said Mr. Maher.

Mr. Maher continued by casting doubt on subsequent allegations made prior to Mr. Franken’s resignation, however, adding that two of at least seven other accusers made claims he described as “ridiculous,” including one made by a woman who said the former senator had inappropriately grabbed her waist while posing for a photograph together.

“Are Democrats really going to permanently send away one of our ablest warriors for being a waist grabber?” Mr. Maher asked. “He didn’t drive her off a bridge and leave her to drown. Can we get some perspective?

“It’s time to get Al off the bench so he can come back and do what he does better than any other Democrat: taking down rightwing blowhards. I want to see Al Franken debate Donald Trump. And by the way, so do you,” he added.

Mr. Franken did not immediately comment on Mr. Maher’s remarks.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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