Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has actively cultivated a low profile in his nearly eight years in the Senate, refusing most interview requests from national media outlets, building relationships with his colleagues and otherwise trying to reshape his image from a nationally renowned comedian to a serious lawmaker.
However Franken, who previously authored a number of humor books and wrote for “Saturday Night Live,” has been cracking wise about about one of his least favorite colleagues, Ted Cruz (R-Texas), while promoting his sarcastically titled new book, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate.
“You have to understand that I like Ted Cruz probably more than my colleagues like Ted Cruz,” Franken told USA Today’s Susan Page, repeating a line from his book, “and I hate Ted Cruz.”
“He’s a special guy,” the senator added.
If that weren’t enough, Page reports that Franken dedicates an entire chapter of his book to Cruz, titled “Sophistry.”
On Wednesday, Austin American-Statesman chief political writer Jonathan Tilove tweeted an excerpt from Franken’s memoir in which Franken described his colleague Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) attempts to workshop a joke about Cruz for a speech. Out of politeness, Franken writes, Klobuchar ran the joke by Cruz.
After Klobuchar and Cruz offered several different versions of the same joke ― playing on the fact that “Cruz” and “cruise” are homophones ― Franken recalls stepping in and offering his own version.
“When most people think of a cruise that’s full of shit, they think of Carnival,” Franken reportedly told the two senators. “But we think of Ted.”
At that point, Franken writes, Cruz went silent and the two parted ways.
Franken told Page in the USA Today interview he felt no compunction about breaking Senate protocol that dictates senators not publicly discuss private conversations with one another. Franken recalled a June 2015 incident in which the Texas senator called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a “liar” for, in Cruz’s view, publicly contradicting statements he had made in private about renewing the Export-Import Bank.
“He is the exception to the rule in the book, which is there’s protocol in the Senate of not writing about a conversation you’ve had with someone and reporting it where it would make them look bad,” Franken said, “but because Ted broke that protocol and called Mitch McConnell a liar on the floor, I felt like, ‘Well, OK!’”
Franken made similar comments this weekend, telling a crowd at the Vulture Festival in New York on Saturday that while his book doesn’t contain much “gossip,” he does let loose on Cruz who, according to Franken, “broke the protocol of the Senate.”
HuffPost reached out to Franken’s office to clarify whether this meant Franken’s book contains details of potentially damaging private conversations with Cruz, but has not received a response.
This article has been updated to include an excerpt from the book about Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s joke.