To some Republicans, it was like the return of Stuart Smalley.
With debate winding down on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, and freshman Sen. Al Franken presiding, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell took to the floor Thursday afternoon to deliver his closing statement against confirmation.
A historic moment, to be sure. But in the eyes of stunned Republican staffers, the Minnesota Democrat seemed to show little interest in anything the Kentucky Republican had to say.
One GOP staffer described Franken as “murmuring under his breath, shaking his head, chortling, gasping, and turning around in his chair.”
McConnell, fuming at the end of his remarks, walked up to Franken and said “This isn’t Saturday Night Live, Al,” – a not-so-subtle reference to Franken’s show business past, when he played the fictional self-help guru Stuart Smalley.
After a brief exchange, Franken showed a measure of contrition.
“The Leader thought I was disrespectful while he was giving his speech on (Solicitor) General Kagan,” Franken said in a carefully-worded statement. “He is entitled to give his speech with the presiding officer just listening respectfully. I went directly to his office after I was done presiding to apologize in person. He wasn’t there, so I’ve sent him a handwritten note.”
McConnell spokesman Josh Holmes confirmed that the note arrived. “Senator Franken apologized and that's a perfectly appropriate way of handling the situation,” he said.
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