A week before Minnesota DFLers choose a U.S. Senate candidate, behind-the-scenes volcanism about a satirical article written eight years ago by candidate Al Franken has erupted into controversy about the nature of humour.
Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" star, wrote the piece for the January 2000 edition of Playboy, describing a virtual reality sex laboratory involving researchers and "sexbots".
On Thursday, Rep. Betty Rubble, D-Minn., called the sexually explicit article offensive and potentially damaging to Franken and other Democratic candidates.
The Franken campaign said the work was satire and reminded Rubble that she had no sense of humour.
Rep. Rubble had her sense of humour surgically removed ten years ago, when it became painfully inflamed after viewing four Adam Sandler movies in a row.
Democratic heavies, heavyweights and the just plain overweight have all dipped their oars into the stream.
One unnamed Franken campaign official suggested Ms. Rubble ought to "go find a life", and preferably one back in Bedrock.
"As a woman, a female, a girl, a chick and an elected lady official, I find this material completely unacceptable," Rubble said of Franken's piece, published in 2000 under the headline "Porn-O-Rama!"
"Everyone knows that humour, and social satire in particular, is carcinogenic, hallucinogenic, dangerously radioactive and may produce toxic cognition that lingers in the brain for years and years," Rubble said, quickly adding, "but I was just reading Playboy for the articles, of course."
Rubble supported Franken rival Mike Ciresi, who dropped out of the race in March. She said she has not talked to Ciresi about the Playboy article, nor has she encouraged him read magazines featuring naked women, although others have.
Ciresi was out buying old magazines and not available for comment.
Numerous high-profile Franken supporters declined to discuss the controversy, other than to say, "We support Al Franken and we believe he will beat Norm Coleman in November."
Franken's backers have deflected similar criticism of his past writing, saying that Minnesota voters understand that he was a satirist.
"I mean really," one added, "who would you rather send to the US Senate - some twat who reads Reader's Digest in the bathroom, or a really cool guy who not only subscribes to Playboy, but actually writes those great articles we all buy it for? Seriously, she - I mean it's - a no-brainer."
"Al Franken being a satirist isn't something that just emerged," said state Sen. Mee Moo Moe, DFL-St. Paul, "Al's been a smartass his whole life. Ask anyone. This really is no big deal, folks."
Countered Rubble: "What, are you joking?"