The new Congress convened today, even though two sad states still lack their full complement of senators: Illinois and Minnesota. We'll set aside the endless circus of clowns that is Rod Blagojevich's Illinois Senate Debacle for now and concentrate on the wonderful state of Minnesota. You'll recall that the race between former Saturday Night Live writer Al Franken, a comedian who used to dance around in tights before he started writing political books, and the blowdried, basement-dwelling Norm Coleman turned out to be surprisingly tight.
It was so tight that the race triggered a mandatory recount, and that's when things got weird. It turned out that the citizens of Minnesota were so disgusted with the Republican and the Democratic candidates that they wrote in, out of sheer desperation, such fanciful candidates as "Lizard People" and Brett Favre. The state canvassing board's interminable review of disputed ballots was a strange spectacle made up of equal parts tedium, confusion, exasperation, and tragicomedy.
Then all the undisputed ballots and the disputed ballots and some wrongly rejected absentee ballots were finally counted, or not! This is where the chronology gets a little fuzzy, because nobody aside from the court stenographer could possibly be bothered with all the details. But in broad strokes the story is that Al Franken, down by a couple hundred votes before the recount, was now up by a couple hundred votes. (This is either evidence of terrible fraud or a very good reason for automatic recounts. Or both?) Various petitions and motions have been visited before various courts, including the state Supreme Court, which has declined the invitation to wade into the weeds on this one.
Now the possibly former Senator Coleman's office is locked, although some phantom is reportedly still turning on the lights and brewing coffee, while Franken has already gone ahead and humbly accepted victory thanks to a handful of Minnesotans who did not favor Lizard People.
Of course, Coleman's attorneys have already filed a lawsuit to prevent Governor Tim Pawlenty from officially certifying the election results. The best course at this point is for Pawlenty to throw both Coleman and Franken in a dungeon somewhere and appoint Jesse Ventura the next senator from Minnesota.
Sara K. Smith also writes for Wonkette.