Chat With Satirist and Shadow Convention Participant Al Franken

— Political satirist Al Franken chatted with ABCNEWS.com readers live from the Republican National Convention.

Franken, one of the original writers and performers on Saturday Night Live, is the author of the best sellers Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations and Why Not Me? — The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency. What does Franken find most humorous about presidential politics? Look below for a transcript of our chat.

Moderator:

Welcome, Al Franken!

Al Franken:

Thank you!

Moderator:

Has political satire ever turned public opinion in an election?

Al Franken:

Maybe in a very, very close election. The only thing I can point to is 1976, in which Chevy portrayed Ford as a bumbler. That may have actually made enough of a difference that in that close an election — it could have changed things. I think I helped a little with Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot. I don't know.

Moderator:

Do you think politicians today have a better sense of humor about themselves?

Al Franken:

I think that Abe Lincoln had a pretty good sense of humor about himself. I think Lincoln wins on that one. I really don't think it has to do with a point in history. I think people have humor about themselves.

Moderator:

Will comedians miss the Clintons once they leave the White House?

Al Franken:

Of course! They'll miss the president. I'll miss the president as a president, though, and you don't know, going into any administration, what you've got. We thought George Bush, Sr. was going to be boring, and when I was working on SNL he was very easy to do. We got a lot out of him.

Russ Miller asks: Wouldn't all professional satirists be disappointed with anything less than a Bush victory in November? Who, besides Dan Quayle and his former boss, has ever shown so much promise as a giver of gaffe?

Al Franken:

I think there is sort of a rooting interest of satirists for Bush. He's not, shall we say, an intellectually curious person, and I think if he makes it — and I don't think he will, by the way — he'll be good fodder.

Roger Ribert asks: It seems to me that the satiric community has been heavily impacted by Pat Buchanan bolting the Republican Party. He was the prime target of this generation. Who will take his place?

Al Franken:

You're seeing, at this convention in '92, we had Pat Buchanan opening up telling us there was a religious war in this country, and making, I think, at least four gay-bashing remarks in that speech. That's fun to react to, if you're a comedian. And a liberal.

This is harder to react to. Laura Bush was authentic, especially in contrast to Liddy Dole four years ago, and did an Oprah-type thing: She handled it very well when she talked to Dole's first wife, and said, "What was it like when Bob said 'Bob Dole wants out?'" She handled it well. It could have been awkward.

By the way! Last night was what I refer to as "No African-American Republican Office-Holder Will Be Left Behind."

Kestrel says: Tell us your view on the so-called convention bounce that Dubya appears to be grabbing (at least according to the corporate media conglomerates).

Al Franken:

I just talked to a NYC pollster who tends to favor Republicans, and he tells me the polls favor George Bush by a four-point lead. If that's the case, it's sort of meaningless.

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