SNL Hits McCain on Dishonest Ads, With Help From Al Franken

Saturday Night Live opened for the second time this season with satire on the McCain/Palin campaign, this time concentrating on the dishonesty of John McCain’s ads (video above). Last week they had help from Tine Fey.  The Politco reports that SNL alumni Al Franken, now a candidate for governor of Minnesota, had a part in the development of this skit. Being involved in a political campaign where Franken must disassociate himself from some of his previous skits, Franken has minimized his role:

“Al has been friends with Lorne Michaels for over 30 years, and Lorne thought Al’s personal experience was funny enough for a SNL skit,” Murray said in a statement, referring to the show’s executive producer and creator. “Sure, Al keeps in touch with old friends but unless the skit is about non-ferrous mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range, Al’s not in the business of developing skits anymore.”

A Franken campaign aide said the candidate had been taping an ad earlier in the week and had wondered out loud how McCain could include the disclaimer candidates are required to include in their commercials — “I’m John McCain, and I approved this message” — when his spots were so “over the top.” Later that day, Franken talked to Michaels about topics unrelated to the show and mentioned his thought but did not suggest a sketch.

However, Michaels talked to Meyers about Franken’s idea and the current writer, believing there was a funny sketch there, called his predecessor and they discussed it further.

Meyers then wrote it up.

Franken’s campaign sought to downplay the conversations, noting that the idea grew out of a discussion between old friends and that Franken had not been pitching an idea.

And a source close to the show said it was not uncommon for past “Saturday Night Live” stars to suggest ideas to current writers and cast members.

The roles of comedy writer and Senator are quite different, leading Franken to make this statement in his acceptance speech:

For 35 years I was a writer. I wrote a lot of jokes. Some of them weren’t funny. Some of them weren’t appropriate. Some of them were downright offensive. I understand that. And I understand that the people of Minnesota deserve a senator who won’t say things that will make you feel uncomfortable

Using criticism of a Republican candidate which might have come from a Democratic candidate for another office also plays into Republican criticism of NBC by conservatives who are unable to differentiate between a comedy show and news coverage. Lorne Michaels has contributed to both sides in this presidential race:

SNL executive producer and creator Lorne Michaels has a long history of donating to political candidates and various PACs on both sides of the aisle as well as independents.

Michaels has also been a longtime supporter of Sen. John McCain’s various political campaigns, donating $1,000 to him in the 2000 presidential primaries, $1,000 to his 2004 Senate reelection bid, a similar sum to his Straight Talk America PAC in 2006 and the maximum $2,300 to his presidential campaign this year.

When asked about his support for McCain last week by Politico, Michaels said he has also donated to Obama, although that donation has not been listed on the most recent available donor statements. Michaels also made a $2,300 donation to the Franken campaign in March.

While this not actually stated, I cannot help but wonder if Lorne Michaels is one of many former supporters of John McCain who have changed their view of him as a consequence of the dishonest campaign he has been running this year, as is appropriately satirized in this skit.


  1. 1
    MsJoanne says:

    This skit contained more truth than most of McCain’s real ads.  How sad is that?

  2. 2
    mike shepherd says:

    Conservatives having the audacity to criticize SNL for being ‘biased.’  That’s so very richly hypocritical.  The political “humor” that is allegedly “all entertainment” which the vast majority of talk radio listenership has been deluged with for 12 years has been 1000% biased, conservative/GOP rhetoric.  Come off it. How’s it F-ing feel for a change…

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