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Al Franken Humors Model Congress Session

By C.r. Mcfadden, Special to The Crimson

BOSTON--A visibly agitated high school student rose to his feet, just after discovering he'd been assigned to play a conservative Congressional representative during this weekend's Harvard Model Congress (HMC) session, which began yesterday afternoon at the Sheraton Hotel.

The young man had one simple question for Al Franken '73, the former "Saturday Night Live" script writer and author of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: "How should I do it without becoming violently ill?"

"Do you know how to put your head up your ass?" Franken responded without missing a beat, drawing thunderous applause from the 1,200 high school delegates in the audience.

In mock sessions lasting through Sunday, the delegates will assume the roles of politicians, lobbyists and journalists.

They will meet in committees and open sessions, hoping to pass legislation on 40 issues ranging from the environment to tax policy.

Harvard Model Congress, which has been held annually since 1986, will also include history lessons about the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the 1965 Civil Rights Amendment.

HMC Co-President Lawrence J. Lee '97 said he hoped the simulation would give the students a first-hand view of the ways political proposals become law.

Invoking the legacies of Aristotle and Shakespeare, Lee implored students to work in a bipartisan spirit. "Our philosophy is that we have faith.... It's the hope that we may, hopefully, inspire future statesmen to greatness and create an electorate that can and does reward such greatness."

Franken, though, seemed to have ignored the suggestion. The self-proclaimed "mushball Democrat" took several jabs at the Clinton administration (he quipped that Attorney General Janet Reno was offering lap dances for $20 at various Inaugural balls) but spent most of his time skewering high-profile Republicans.

* On New York Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato: "Having Al D'Amato chair an ethics inquiry is like having Ross Perot heading up a mental health task force."

* On Rush Limbaugh: "Rush is very fat. Huge, enormous, fat. Humongous. He has this huge gut. Big ass. Huge guy."

* On Patrick J. Buchanan: "He's said Holocaust survivors are given to group fantasies and martyrdom. Does he think the same of his supporters?"

Student delegates came from 27 states, including California, Illinois and Texas. Franken, a former Dunster House resident, told them he expected the conference to be worthwhile. "It's an excellent way to pad an otherwise thin college application."

Franken, who often plays the character of pop therapist Stuart Smalley, led the delegates in a trademark "daily affirmation" before departing.

"I thought it was great. I've watched 'Saturday Night Live' and 'Politically Incorrect,' and I really enjoyed his work," said Paulette Poullet, a delegate from Puerto Rico.

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