Al Franken, Making the Rounds
When you're this close to becoming a U.S. senator, you don't want to take any chances. That's why Al Franken chose his words very carefully at the USO dinner Wednesday night.
"There was an election ...," he told the crowd. "I think I won it. This has been going on for a while. ... All I know, if I get to the Senate, I'm going to do everything I can for these soldiers."
Franken's fate, with a 225-vote lead over Norm Coleman, is in the hands of three judges in Minnesota who are expected to rule any minute. The former comedian, who's been on seven overseas USO tours, took time out from the legal battle to accept an award from the Metropolitan Washington chapter for his visits with soldiers at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was joined by Miss America Katie Stam, actress Renée Zellweger (adorable, but refused to talk to the media because ..... oh, who cares?) and a ballroom full of Medal of Honor recipients and other distinguished military personnel.
Franken told the audience at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City that he was initially worried, like most volunteers, about how he could cheer up the wounded veterans -- and found himself lifted by their courage and humor. Four veterans stood alongside Franken while he delivered his remarks -- until the spotlights got too hot and they filed off the stage. He gave them an exaggerated double-take until one of the vets quipped: "Burn guy. He's melting."
"I do the jokes," shot back Franken with a grin.
After the presentation, the would-be senator avoided any questions about the election ("Tonight is about the USO") but said he'd use the seat to obtain better health care for veterans and push for a pet pilot project: "I'd like to see wounded veterans get service dogs. I'm a dog guy."
And what if he doesn't end up in the Senate? "I don't even want to entertain that possibility," he said without cracking a smile. Guess there are still some subjects he can't joke about.
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