The Smoking Gun has caught the always fair and balanced Al Franken in a little fib:

Comedian Al Franken last month wrote an apology letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, admitting that he was not truthful when he previously sought Ashcroft’s views on abstinence.

In June, Franken wrote to Ashcroft seeking the AG’s story for “Savin’ It,” which the performer described as a book “about abstinence programs in our public schools.” On its face, the letter (which you’ll find below) reads like a joke, with Franken advising Ashcroft to “share a moment when you were tempted to have sex, but were able to overcome your urges through willpower and strength of character. Be funny!” Franken also asked, “Did a young woman ever think you were homosexual just because you wouldn’t have sex with her? Be serious!”

Franken’s missive, written on letterhead from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, claimed that he had already received abstinence stories from other prominent Republicans, including Condoleezza Rice and Senator Rick Santorum. However, in his July 11 apology, Franken admitted that he had not received those abstinence stories and called his solicitation to Ashcroft, “an imprudent attempt at satire.”

The comedian also apologized for writing on Harvard letterhead: “My biggest regret is sending the letter on Shorenstein Center stationery. I can assure you that no one at the Shorenstein Center had knowledge of the letter before I sent it.” Franken, who was a fellow at the Kennedy School this spring, added, “I am very embarrassed to have put them in this awkward and difficult position, and I ask you not to hold this against the Center, the Kennedy School, or Harvard in general.”

Hat tip to Steven Taylor, who notes,

“This is rather ironic given that his new book purports to expose the ‘lies’ of the right…”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. marvin says:

    Comedians can be stupid when they try too hard for laughter when they are really just ridiculing people.