Al Franken running for senate? Why not Jon Stewart for president?

I had my 20 year high school reunion last weekend. There were three highlights for me:

1) I got to see all three of my prom dates — roughly the only three dates I had in high school.

2) My old high school quiz bowl team reunited and showed we still had the right stuff, handily beating the school’s highly touted current quiz bowl team. (My quiz bowl involvement gives you a hint at why I only had three dates in high school.)

3) Al Franken spoke at the high school commencement (which coincided with the reunion) and was kind enough to seek me out and we had a nice chat and he had very kind things to say about Freakonomics. As far as I could tell, a signed copy of Freakonomics was the only compensation he was being given for giving his commencement address. If so, he needs a better agent!

Rumor has it in Minnesota that Al Franken is establishing residency in Minnesota so that he can run for Senate. Which got me thinking back to my earlier comment on this blog about how Jon Stewart would make a great president.

What do you think? I never got much feedback on that idea.

Al Franken is not the only celebrity we met recently who had something to say about Freakonomics. After our latest Today show stint, Len Berman came by and told us his wife is a realtor and said (nicely) he thought we were completely full of crap on the real estate issue.

Princess Leia

You are showing your liberal stripes, Prof. Levitt.

Reunions are so much fun. I will have mine next weekend.

Jamie Brockington

What's interesting to me is that Franken would be picking Minnesota to run for Senate. Why not? They once elected a former professional wrestler.

I'm not so sure Jon Stewart would make a great president, myself. He's a comedian first and foremost. Having him as commander-in-chief seems a bit unsettling to me. He's probably a much better TV show host than a world leader. Maybe he could have a new cabinet post. Secretary of Comical Relief. President? I think not.


He'd make a better DNC frontman than Howard Dean. (For one thing, at least some of the jokes he tells are funny, and he is absolutely unflappable no matter what.)

But President? No way. It's easy to sit up in the peanut gallery and throw barbs at political leaders day after day. (Which is ultimately all his job is.) It's infinitely harder to actually go out and lead.


Oprah for President. She could win in a heartbeat.

John S. Leyba

What I like about both Al Franken and Jon Stewart, though I don't always agree with them politically, is that they have a lot of heart, and they're smart. I just don't get the impression that most folks leading the country (from either big party), either know what they're doing, or much care. And don't even get into personal integrity with the party hypocrites.


I like Stewart and Franken and I think it is entirely possible that they would make a good leaders. Regardless of your political bias most people were surprised by Ronald Regan's leadership ability after a career as an actor. Don't count Jon Stewart or Al Franken out too soon.


Jon Stewert would make TOO GOOD of a president. Think about it, someone who knows what is going on, someone who talks to people, someone who knows American history [The Book], and what should be changed. This clearly wouldn't work. The government would never let someone actually fix all the beaurocratic problems that provide them jobs and job security without any need to actually KNOW anything that they are working on. That would only be good for the people, not the government.

I would LOVE to see him run though. The debates and interviews would be classic whether or not he wins.


I think one of Jon Stewart's (many) great skills is his ability to make his guests feel comfortable. He always seems to be able to steer the conversation in the right direction, and knows when the guest is confused or when he made some joke that has no follow-up. Perhaps this would be useful in diplomatic relations? He does seem too genuine and likable to be a politican, though.


I agree with an early comment. Let's run Oprah for president. She'd win in a landslide.

Jay Markanich

i do home inspections and your realtor comments are not "full of crap."
also, i prefer my presidents and senators to be pro america. it is unfailingly obvious which are and are not.


I suppose I could be serious...but it would be so out of style for me.

A running family joke is that we would be better off choosing the 'actor' we want to play the president than an actual president. Who doesn't long for Bill Pullman in times of war? Michael Douglas during ceremonies? Martin Sheen during negotiations with congress? Jon Stewart during the State of the Union address? Maybe we could elect them all to play their particular roles at crucial moments...


Al Franken could certainly make us all realize that it's OK to have a cynical view of the world instead of constantly "waving the flag" to cover up all the mistakes and biases by professional politicians.

In response to Jay . . . I remember the Secretary of the Interior during the Reagan era "vetoing" the performance of the Beach Boys at a July 4th show in a national park saying that they would attract the "wrong element". Americans come in many different packages with different political views. We don't all have to frantically wave the flag to be pro-American. Thank you.

Garry Gamber

I can't see either Al Franken or Jon Stewart in an important leadership role. Both are good at comic commentary and that is what they should continue doing.


don't you see an article investigating why some folks think their favorite ___ (athlete, comedian, author, uncle, etc.) would make a good ___ (president, lawyer, preacher, etc.)?

Finding new occupations for those already employed (though they may be making noises about changing professions) seems a parlor game -- as many of these responses indicate. Jane Fonda as ___, Martin Sheen as ___, etc.

Giuliani as host of the Tonight Show?


I would vote for Jon Stewart in a second, but I don't think he would stand a chance. He's far too centrist and level headed to ever make a dent with our country's wacked out electorate.

qualityg says

Sorry folks, these guys are jokes, sorry, I mean comedians.


Yes, Jon Stewart for president! Then maybe I'd even apply for US citizenship just so I can vote for him :)


NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! That would suck! What would we watch every night at 11pm if Jon Stewart were president? The Daily Show with Stephen Colbert? oy gevalt.


Jon Stewart a centrist?

Jon Stewart a centrist?

He is often funny, but a centrist?

Where does your political scale start as mainstream left? Stalin?

d c

What we really need is some data to measure the senses of humor in elected officials and coorelate it to their success in governing... Which also means we'd need a metric for successful governing.

Since reading Freakanomics and to some extent living under the propaganda machine of the current administration, I've virtually given up on believing any supposition without the data and layered intelligence to back it up.

But if I were to take a wild guess, could anyone be WORSE than the curret president? Unlikely.