Al Franken as VP?

Sen. Al Franken speaking at the Minnesota State Fair in 2014. Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

If you’ve grown weary of the presidential campaign, the far more interesting part of the political season is underway: speculating on vice presidential candidates.

To that end, Politico Magazine is stirring the Minnesota pot with its assertion that if Hillary Clinton really wants to be president, she wants Sen. Al Franken on the ticket.

The irony? Franken is the one DFL politician in Minnesota who isn’t obviously positioning himself to get a bigger gig.

Writer Bill Scher acknowledges as much when he says “even though his seven-year record as a senator from Minnesota suggests he’s a genuinely committed legislator, the first rule of VP picks is “do no harm”—and pre-Trump, the trove of politically incorrect barbs from Franken’s past would have been far too much baggage for a presidential nominee to want to carry.

That’s the other irony; Donald Trump makes it easier for Al Franken to move on up despite some of his work as a comedian.

A Franken choice throws a bone to the the younger Bernie Sanders voter, gives a nod to the Midwest, and adds a media savvy candidate who knows the media scene better than the top of the ticket, Politico says.

Republicans painted Franken as an immoral Hollywood hothead, circulating bestiality jokes from a Playboy magazine humor piece Franken wrote, using out-of-context video clips where he looks deranged, and digging up evidence of his failure to pay back taxes and workers compensation. “We in Hollywood are a bit worried that Al Franken is hurting our reputation,” needled “Cheers” actor John Ratzenberger in one of the Republican Party’s final attack ads.

Yet Franken didn’t just survive the assault: He prevailed. After a recount and months of legal wrangling, Franken escaped with a 312-vote victory. While Franken was already trying to present a more serious face to Minnesota voters, the dead-even outcome was a constant reminder of his precarious political position, spurring him to be a senatorial work horse and not a show horse.

Today, he stands on firm ground. In the 2014 midterms, as the Republican tide was cresting in Colorado and Iowa, Franken scored an impressive 10-point reelection victory. And progressive activists credited his proud populism for his exponential electoral growth. Mother Jones’ Patrick Caldwell, among others, showered praise on Franken for channeling “populist outrage at growing inequality and the hardships of the financial crash.”

The best part about VP-speculation season is it’s two games in one. It also spawns the who-would-line-up-to-replace-Franken recreation.

I’ll start: R.T. Rybak.

(h/t: Jon Gordon)