A Conversation with Heidi Heitkamp

Heidi Heitkamp

 The Founding Members of the Senate’s now defunct “Oh Ya! Caucus,” former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp and I discuss Heidi’s new organization, One Country. How do Democrats get more votes in rural America? Show up. Listen. Keep coming back. Listen to the podcast. Heidi lost her re-elect in a state that has turned solidly red over the past ten years. I won both of my races in a purplish-blue state by winning big in the Twin Cities and Duluth. But I did better all-around and in rural Minnesota in my second race (2014, a bad year for Dems) … Read More…

Andy Slavitt (Round 2): The 2020 Candidates’ Health Care Plans

Al Franken and Andy Slavitt

Andy Slavitt returns to discuss the health care proposals of the Democratic candidates for POTUS. Al and Andy agree that it’s important for every contender to lay out their plans to get to universal coverage, but exhort them not to squander the enormous advantage we have over Trump and Republicans on an issue of such importance to every American.

A Conversation with Howard Fineman

Howard Fineman

How awful do you think Mitch McConnell is? Well, he’s worse than that. This week on The Al Franken Podcast, Howard Fineman, winner of eleven journalism awards, (two of which were cufflinks*), tells us all about The Cynic. Fineman, who began his 46-year career at the Louisville Courier Journal, has been covering McConnell for decades and decades. Fineman’s McConnell relishes being a big prick. When coal miners with black lung disease travel from Kentucky to ask Congress to restore the tiny tax on each ton of coal that funds their treatment, McConnell gives them all of thirty seconds. Hell – the miners aren’t going to vote for him; the … Read More…

A Conversation with Secretary Ernest Moniz

Ernest Moniz

Former Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz and I discuss putting pragmatic meat on the bones of the Green New Deal. We coin a new Kennedy-esque slogan, “We choose to go to zero-carbon not because it is easy, but because otherwise WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!” Moniz, who was the chairman of MIT’s physics department, negotiated the technical nuclear parts of the Iran Deal with his Iranian counterpart. Because Trump has repeatedly called the US negotiators of the Iran Nuclear Deal “very stupid people,” I try to determine throughout just how stupid Moniz is. Not very, it turns out. And I open … Read More…

A Conversation with Franklin Foer

Franklin Foer image

This week, author and Atlantic Monthly staff writer, Franklin Foer joins me to discuss Big Tech. Are filter bubbles dividing us? Is Facebook deliberately keeping us angry and upset? Is everyone’s attention span dwindling? Is Google selling records of all your searches? Is the Big One coming? You know – the day everyone who’s ever watched pornography will be revealed to everyone else who’s ever watched pornography? Listen, starting today at 2pm. It’s addictive!

A Conversation with Dana Carvey

Dana Carvey Image

Dana and I discuss political comedy and how some of the greatest moments in SNL’s political satire were created. l promise Dana to blow smoke up his ass during this interview, and, indeed, smoke is blown. I open with a monologue in which I assesses the relative talents of Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. Hint: Reagan could read a speech.

A Conversation with David Mandel

David Mandel

Veep show runner, David Mandel discusses Veep and what the hell it is that a show runner does. Why Trump’s election made a dark, cynical show even darker and more cynical. Also, how David owes his entire career to Al – a career that includes writing and producing for Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Veep, all shows that Al had nothing to do with. In his opening monologue Al calls the 2020 presidential election “the second most important election in our lifetime.”  The most important being last one.

A Conversation with Michael Mann

In this week’s episode, I talk with Michael Mann, Nobel Prize-winning climatologist for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We cover a lot of ground. How to talk about climate change to your crazy right-wing climate-denying uncle. “Uncle Hal, sea level is rising. For two reasons. Ice is melting. And water expands when it gets warmer.” If Uncle Hal insists sea level is rising because of all the rocks falling into the ocean, then just give up. We talk about how climate used to be a bipartisan issue, but since Citizens United, the Koch Brothers have … Read More…

A Conversation with Andy Slavitt

 The guy who pulled the HealthCare.Gov baby out of a burning building and then headed up Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama Administration discusses healthcare with Al. How Obamacare got so popular. (Republicans won, and their plan to repeal and replace sucked tail-pipe.)

A Conversation with Jeffrey Toobin and Nancy Gertner

An in-depth, but somewhat snarky, look at the Trump administration’s success in packing the courts with right-wing, Federalist Society judges. Gertner, a Harvard Law professor, and Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst, discuss some of the most cynical, activist decisions by the Roberts Court. Al calls Justice Scalia’s dissent in marriage equality, “Very gay.”

A Conversation with Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis and I discuss his latest bestseller, The Fifth Risk, which I call the best book about the Trump Administration, in no small part because there’s very little focus on Trump himself. Instead Lewis takes us inside of three Cabinet agencies – Agriculture, Commerce, and Energy – and the incompetent, venal, and/or corrupt appointees who find their way into crucial positions within the federal government. The head of science at the Agriculture Department is replaced by a right-wing talk radio host whose only qualification is that he endorsed Trump early in Iowa. Trump appoints the CEO of AccuWeather to head up … Read More…

A Conversation With Sarah Silverman

The brilliant, brave, and hilarious Sarah Silverman is this week’s guest on The Al Franken Podcast. I’ve watched Sarah evolve from a brash, spirited diamond-in-the-rough into one of our most daring, thoughtful, and beloved comedian/satirists.  In our, may I say, delightful, wide-ranging discussion, Sarah talks about her formative influences (her dad taught her to curse at two), the risk of taking risks (spoiler alert – it’s risky), and her embrace of change both in her craft and her life. We talk about the presence of evil (hear a right-wing preacher call Sarah “a whore of Zion” and suggest that her violent murder … Read More…