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Al Franken revs up the Maine delegation
This just in: Bush hasnít won over any additional votes since the 2000 election -- so heís going to lose again

MONDAY, JULY 26, 2004 -- The Maine delegation to the Democratic National Convention got officially started Monday morning with the first of their four daily breakfasts scheduled for convention week. Each one has a scheduled keynote speaker, and Mondayís was a popular choice: Al Franken, founder of Air America and husband to a Maine native.

Franken is, of course, a comedian first, and he worked his adoring audience for plenty of laughs after an opening that included a story about how his mother-in-law had used a government grant intended to fix her leaky roof to instead send herself to college at the University of Maine. He cited this as an example of a government program that worked, one of the same government programs he accused the Bush administration of trying to trim or eliminate.

"If people hit a tough spot," Franken reasoned, "weíre a community. We help them." He cited a study that says 65 percent of Americans get some kind of means-based aid from the federal or state government as evidence that most Americans are liberal, whether they know it or not.

Then he launched in on President Bush, and thatís where the laughs came in. "When he said in the 2000 campaign that he was against nation building, I didnít understand that he only meant our nation," Franken cracked.

He said Iraq was in a state of chaos, and that "this guy doesnít care." Doing a Donald Rumsfeld imitation, Franken quoted him as addressing the looting that went on during the early days of the war: "People in a free society are free to do what they want."

"Really?" he egged the room. "Did you guys know we were free to loot?" He also claimed the deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz didnít have any idea of American casualties during a House Appropriations meeting. "Imagine, the deputy secretary of defense doesnít know how many troops weíve lost -- because he doesnít care."

As for Bush himself, he noted the "false choice" put before many Bush critics: "Is he lying, or is he clueless? Thatís a false choice. Heís fully capable of being both . . . Someone needs to ask about the briefing papers he received leading up to the war: Did he understand them? Did he ask for them to be explained to him? Did he know that he didnít understand them? They must be asked repeatedly, and in an accusatory tone.

"In fairness to President Bush," he continued, "thereís more to being president than being articulate, intelligent, and knowledgeable."

But Franken had good news for the Maine delegation, too. He thinks this election is pretty much a lock for the presumptive nominee John Kerry. Citing polling data, Franken claimed Bush basically "hasnít gained one vote" since the 2000 election: "And, remember, he lost."

Plus, the Democrats are even more energized this time around. "This is why heís going down," said Franken. "The only way heís been a uniter is that heís united us. Heís going down." His voice deepened.

"Heís going down."

Issue Date: July 26, 2004
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