He's serious, already!

Al Franken isn't clowning around. He's serious. This, we should know. The national media has done well reminding us that he's not joking, jesting, joshing, kidding, pranking, or shitting us whenever they report on his rather vigorous (one might say "serious") campaign.

For any other candidate, the sober tone of his or her campaign goes without saying—to date, no politician has won many hearts on the stump by greeting constituents with hand-buzzers or depantsing flushed opponents mid-debate. No need to dabble in is-this-guy-for-real? guessing games when the candidate in question is a former trial lawyer, military goon, oil lobbyist, or religious zealot. These people laugh seriously.

Then there's Franken. His campaign has elicited stories that invariably include a variant of the word serious it their headlines, as if brain-dead readers might otherwise conclude his candidacy is some kind of elaborately planned and inexplicably costly farce, maybe one in which Stuart Smalley hijacks an ice cream truck and crashes it into the twisted remnants of John McCain's Straight Talk Express on the eve of the election and proceeds to reassure a dour McCain that, gosh darnit, people like him.

On Feb. 14, The New York Times political blog, The Caucus, ran a blurb whose headline succinctly assured readers, "Franken Serious About Senate." The same day, a CBC News headline read, "Comedian to make serious run for U.S. Senate." One day later, courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times via the AP came "Comic Franken serious about bid for Senate."

More recently, a July 24 NewsMax.com headline stated, "Al Franken's Senate Bid Gets Serious." Two days later, the AP story in the Tonawanda News upped the ante with two inclusions of the word seriously and threw in some caps for good measure: "NO, SERIOUSLY: Comedian Al Franken asks Democrats to take him seriously as candidate" And just last week, Congressional Quarterly added to the shtick with, "Al Franken Running Hard for Minnesota Senate Seat... Seriously."

Are we reading too much into this? Probably. But we're serious.

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