The Al Franken Podcast

The Al Franken Podcast
A five-time Emmy winning SNL comedy writer/producer, joins a four-time #1 NYT bestselling author, a three-time highest-rated national progressive radio host, a two-time Grammy winning artist, and a former US Senator. So, it gets a little crowded in the booth when Al talks public policy and sometimes political comedy with notable guests. Think “The Daily” without the resources of the NYTimes.

Paul Begala on How to Beat Trump
Aug 9 • 54 min
The stable half of the consultant team that elected Bill Clinton tells us how to beat this psychopath – on the podcast and in his new book, You’re Fired.
Andrew Yang and Al Discuss Each Other
Aug 2 • 54 min
Yang and Al Discuss, Among Other Things – Yang’s Past, the Future of Work, and the Present.
Fmr. DC and Philly Police Chief Charles Ramsey Talks Police Reform
Jul 26 • 54 min
Al in conversation with the co-chair of Obama’s police reform commission.
Dahlia Lithwick on SCOTUS 2019-20 Term and Trump’s Commutation of Roger Stone’s 40-Month Sentence
Jul 19 • 55 min
Al and Dahlia discuss the Court’s top decisions, including Bostock, which held that federal law prohibits employment discrimination agains LGBT workers, and whether Alito’s dissent in that case was “very gay.”
Epidemiologist Abdul El-Sayed Blames the Latest Covid Spikes on Guess Who?
Jul 12 • 56 min
Al and Former Detroit Public Health Commissioner on the Mistakes Trump Keeps Making.
Democratic Election Lawyer Marc Elias Talks to Two Texas Teenagers About Winning Them the Right to Vote By Mail in November
Jul 5 • 56 min
Recent high school graduate Rajit Gulhati contacted Al for guidance on how he and his friends could vote by mail. So, Al brought in Democratic super lawyer Marc Elias.
A Fourth of July Conversation with Thomas Jefferson
Jul 4 • 7 min
Al sits down with the author of the Declaration of Independence on the anniversary of our nation’s birth
Melvin Carter Talks About Being St. Paul’s First Black Mayor and the Son of a Cop
Jun 28 • 54 min
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter Discusses the Aftermath of George Floyd’s Murder
Frm. Obama Speechwriter David Litt Explains How the GOP Has Systematically Undermined Democracy.
Jun 21 • 53 min
In his new book: Democracy: In One Book or Less fmr. Obama speechwriter and NY Times bestselling author brings fascinating and often startling detail to all the ways the GOP thwarts democracy.
Atlantic Writer George Packer on How the Pandemic and George Floyd’s Murder have Laid Bare America’s Weaknesses
Jun 14 • 54 min
Packer and Al discuss the how a corrupt political class, a heartless economy, systemic racism, and Donald Trump have led to the failures Americans have been witness to and the victims of these last several months.
Donna Edwards and Al Discuss Race, Cops, and Photo Ops
Jun 7 • 54 min
Former Congresswoman Edwards talks about being the mother of a young black man and whether George Floyd’s murder has finally brought us to an inflection point.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García on Teaching During a Pandemic and a DeVos
May 31 • 52 min
The host (and former member of the Senate Education Committee) and the president of the National Education Association talks about an important subject: how awful Betsy DeVos is. But also, education.
COVID-19 Trailer
May 27 • 5 min
This COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the greatest global crisis since World War II. Since the coronavirus hit, Al has been talking with guests about the various aspects of this horrible scourge. To date, guests include: Andy Slavitt, former head of…
Paul Krugman on Arguing with Republican Zombies
May 24 • 53 min
The NYT columnist and Nobel Prize winner discusses how Republicans operate in bad faith on issues like climate, tax cuts, deficits, income and wealth inequality, and now, the pandemic.
Steve Schmidt Tears Trump and the Republican Party A New One
May 17 • 55 min
The former GOP strategist trashes Trump and his enablers. And gives a surprisingly personal explanation of why it took him so long to leave his old party.
Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant on Where We Go From Here
May 10 • 53 min
From 1973-76, Dr. Larry Brilliant was part of the World Health Organization team that eradicated smallpox and is Chairman of the Board of Ending Pandemics. He discusses how we go forward on Covid-19 after blowing it in the first six months.
Chief Democratic Election Lawyer Marc Elias Talks Elections During A Pandemic
May 3 • 59 min
Democrats want every eligible American to vote. Republicans don’t. Nationally renowned election lawyer Marc Elias discusses the battles ahead from now until November.
Billy and Debbie Shore, Founders of No Kid Hungry, on Hunger in America During this Pandemic
Apr 26 • 47 min
The brother and sister team who have been doing this work for 35 years talk about how the pandemic has shined a light on childhood hunger and what we can do about it.
Michael Lewis On How Trump’s Handling of Covid-19 Has Proven His Book, The Fifth Risk, Tragically Prophetic.
Apr 19 • 53 min
In The Fifth Risk, Lewis portrayed Donald Trump as a man totally ignorant of and disinterested in the actually functioning of the federal government. The book’s title refers to the potential catastrophe that an administration fails to plan for and prevent.
Mental Health and Criminal Justice
Apr 12 • 53 min
Miami Dade County Judge Steve Leifman and Norm Ornstein on Judge Leifman’s remarkably successful Jail Diversion Program, which saves lives and big bucks. An inspiring, feel-good story about changing the lives of our society’s most vulnerable.
Dr. Leana Wen Discusses the Tortuous and High Stakes Path that Dr.’s Fauci and Birx Must Navigate
Apr 5 • 55 min
Dr. Wen is an emergency room physician, professor at GW School of Public Health, and fmr. Public Health Commissioner for Baltimore under two mayors. The second, who was recently sentenced to 3 years in prison, is arguably crazy, giving her unique insight…
Austan Goolsbee on Virus Economics
Mar 29 • 72 min
The former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama speaks with clarity and common sense about how virus economics are different than normal economics.
Andy Slavitt, Former Medicare/Medicaid Head Discusses the Pandemic
Mar 22 • 53 min
One of the earliest and most outspoken critics of Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic, Slavitt reviews its tragic consequences and where we go from here.
MSNBC’s Andrew Zimmern Talks About Food, Immigration, Climate and Addiction
Mar 15 • 57 min
Turns out food is important. Andrew Zimmern, host and producer of MSNBC’s new series, “What’s Eating America” talks about the intersection of food and health, immigration, climate, and addiction – including his own harrowing journey to sobriety and grace.
Documentarian Alex Gibney Tells the Cautionary Tale of the Oligarch Who Defied Putin
Mar 8 • 54 min
Russia’s transition from a brutal dictatorship to a fledgling capitalist democracy and back to a brutal dictatorship.
Pulitzer Prize Winner Dave Fahrenthold Catches Us Up on Trump’s Corruption
Mar 1 • 55 min
In a time of an international health and economic crises, it’s good to have a POTUS who can be trusted by the world community. Instead, we have a grifter with an entire family of money-grubbing, lying grifters.
Is Democracy in Danger? Legal Experts Dahlia Lithwick and Ian Bassin On Trump, Barr and The Abuse of the Criminal Justice System
Feb 23 • 58 min
Dahlia Lithwick of Slate and Ian Bassin of Protect Democracy discuss Trump’s sickening lurch toward autocracy post-impeachment with the cooperation of Bill Barr.
Intelligence Expert Malcolm Nance Makes the Convincing Case that Trump is a Russian Asset
Feb 16 • 64 min
The author, commentator, and career intelligence officer lays out Donald Trump’s decades-long relationship with Putin, the KGB, and Rusky Oligarchs. With a cast of unsavory characters like convicted Russian stooges Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, Nance…
A Conversation with Jimmy Kimmel
Feb 9 • 53 min
Al and Jimmy discuss his radio days, Jimmy Kimmel Live’s rough start, then success, bad guests, his emotional appearance after his son’s birth, and his passionate support of universal health care.
John Mayer on Playing Guitar and Singing at the Same Time
Feb 2 • 52 min
John Mayer talks about how he transitioned from pop star/tabloid fodder (recurrent Sexiest Man Alive) to the impossible challenge of filling Jerry Garcia’s gigantic shoes with Dead and Company, the current iteration of the Grateful Dead. (If you guessed…
How We Got Here. Norm Ornstein on the Erosion of Norms from Gingrich to McConnell to Trump
Jan 26 • 52 min
Veteran Washington observer Norm Ornstein tracks the erosion of norms that once allowed Washington to work. From Newt Gingrich instructing Republicans to demonize Democrats as “sick, corrupt, traitors” to Mitch McConnell denying Merrick Garland a hearing.…
Paul Tough on How the College Admissions System Preserves Our Nation’s Economic and Social Disparities
Jan 19 • 51 min
The Felicity Huffman/Lori Loughlin scandal pales in comparison to the scandal of our higher education admissions system, which protects the privileged and leaves everyone else behind.
MSNBC’s Second Most Popular Host, Lawrence O’Donnell, Is Guest
Jan 12 • 55 min
Lawrence O’Donnell - Son of Dorchester, West Wing writer, Moynihan Senate Staff director - tears Trump and CNN a new one.
Al and Conan O’Brien
Jan 5 • 50 min
Al and Conan discuss their time together at SNL, including Tina Fey’s shameless theft of Al’s Fart Doctor sketch and the time Al scared the bejeezus out of George Harrison. Very little public policy discussed.
Sara Silverman and Al Talk About Comedy and Politics
Dec 29, 2019 • 53 min
A replay of one of our favorite shows from early in 2019. Al and Sara discuss the risky comedy, politics and much more.
Al Solo! - Al Rants on Impeachment, Trump, McConnell, and GOP Bad Faith.
Dec 22, 2019 • 52 min
I rant about the dishonesty (and/or stupidity) of House Republicans during the impeachment debate. Also, about the shameless bad faith exhibited by Mitch McConnell. And the unraveling of Donald Trump’s mind – to the extent it was ever raveled. Plus, my…
Guilty! Al Discusses Impeachment with Harvard Law Professor, Nancy Gertner and Max Bergmann, Not a Harvard Law Professor
Dec 15, 2019 • 56 min
Al concludes that Trump is guilty, yes,guilty!, of high crimes and misdemeanors and so is AG Bill Barr after discussing facts with Harvard Law Professor Nancy Gertner and Max Bergman, director of the Moscow Project. They make the case that assuming Trump…
Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice Talks Foreign Policy Successes and Failures
Dec 8, 2019 • 55 min
Al and Rice discuss how immensely consequential decisions are made in real time. Sometimes you get it right. Sometimes you don’t. And how you deal with tragic mistakes but have to keep on going.
Immigration, Child Separation and Voter Suppression with Maria Teresa Kumar
Dec 1, 2019 • 36 min
A repeat of our first show with the President of Voto Latino, Maria Teresa Kumar with a new timely intro. Al finally took a week off. Okay?!
Al talks to Ambassador Peter Galbraith About Trump’s Tragic Betrayal of the Kurds, and Al weighs in on the Impeachment Hearings.
Nov 24, 2019 • 54 min
Foreign service veteran Peter Galbraith talks about his 35 year history with the Kurds and how Trump’s rash decision to sell them out in Syria will undermine America’s standing and security in the world for years to come.
Al Talks To Executive Director of Foster America Sherry Lachman About The State of Foster Care And Al Gets Verklempt
Nov 17, 2019 • 51 min
Al talks to his former senior education counsel Sherry Lachman about her great organization, Foster America. She helped with a piece of legislation that is one of Al’s greatest achievements as Senator. In the process of getting it passed, Sherry broke a…
Whoever Wins the Popular Vote Should Be President. The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg and Al Discuss Why
Nov 10, 2019 • 49 min
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a compact to award member states’ electors to the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide It will take effect when states with 270 electors adopt it.So far, 14 states and DC (representing 187…
Where There’s Fire, There’s Fire.” Jeffrey Toobin and Dahlia Lithwick Discuss The Legal Issues Ahead in the Impeachment of Donald Trump
Nov 3, 2019 • 54 min
Jeffrey Toobin and Dahlia Lithwick examine the potential legal issues that may take center stage between now and the day the Senate decides whether Trump is guilty or not guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.
Judd Apatow Discusses Comedy, Mental Health and Politics
Oct 27, 2019 • 50 min
Writer, director, producer Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The Larry Sanders Show, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Girls, Anchorman, Trainwreck) discusses comedy, mental health and politics. Al laughs and gets depressed.
Al Talks with one of his Heroes, Harlem Children’s Zone Founder Geoffrey Canada
Oct 20, 2019 • 53 min
One of Al’s heroes, Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, talks about transforming the lives of some of our poorest, most disadvantaged kids and how we can replicate that across the country.
Journalist Elizabeth Drew Explains Impeachment to Al
Oct 13, 2019 • 51 min
Al talks impeachment with Elizabeth Drew, veteran journalist and author of Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall. Her heralded dissection of the Nixon and Clinton sagas makes her the go-to on the pending Trump impeachment.
A Conversation with Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Oct 6, 2019 • 60 min
Al travels to Leader Reid’s home in Henderson, Nevada, to discuss his life and career, with a special focus on their relationship during the years he and Al overlapped in Senate.
A Conversation with Chris Rock
Sep 29, 2019 • 49 min
Mr. Rock is a well-regarded comedian, writer, and actor who is a friend of the host. They discuss a whole bunch of stuff.
Rising Democratic Star and Afghanistan Vet Jason Kander Discusses Putting The Brakes On His Political Career To Treat His PTSD
Sep 24, 2019 • 45 min
Afghan vet and Dem Rising Star Jason Kander discusses his decision to put aside politics to treat his PTSD and his work meeting the housing and treatment needs of vets suffering from the psychological wounds of war. Learn more at…
Renaissance Man Bob Kerrey Talks to Man Al Franken
Sep 17, 2019 • 47 min
A great show for a change with Bob Kerrey, Medal of Honor recipient, Governor of Nebraska, two-term US Senator, 9/11 Commissioner, and University President, on why he can’t keep a job. Also, China, trade, Trump and 2020.
How Corrupt is Trump? Veteran DC Watchdog Melanie Sloan Discusses the Trump Culture of Corruption in Washington
Sep 10, 2019 • 41 min
The least surprising episode of The Al Franken Podcast. Veteran DC watchdog Melanie Sloan tells us Trump is very corrupt. Also Ivanka and Jared. And Don Jr. and Eric. Plus the EPA, Interior, and Commerce. And, finally this week, the National Weather…
Obama Chief Economist Austan Goolsbee Explains the Unexplainable: What The Hell Trump is Doing On Trade
Sep 3, 2019 • 45 min
Austan Goolsbee, former Obama chief economist, explains that “in a crisis, the president’s credibility is all he has.” So, someday soon, The New York Times headline may read, “World in Crisis, Turns Its Eyes to Donald Trump.” And other scary stuff.
A Conversation with Vice President Walter Mondale
Aug 27, 2019 • 50 min
Vice President Walter Mondale explains to Al why things have gotten so bad. And Trump is only part of it.
A Conversation with Joe Cirincione
Aug 20, 2019 • 53 min
Nuke expert and President of the Ploughshares Fund Joe Cirincione explains why we’re now in a nuclear arms race with Russia and China. A very dark, but hilarious episode of The Al Franken Podcast.
A Conversation with Heidi Heitkamp
Aug 13, 2019 • 54 min
The Founding Members of the Senate’s now defunct “Oh Ya! Caucus,” Former ND Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Al discuss Heidi’s new organization, One Country. How do Democrats get more votes in rural America? 1 – show up. 2 – listen. 3 – keep coming back. 4-…
A Conversation with Andy Slavitt
Aug 6, 2019 • 54 min
Andy Slavitt returns to discuss the health care proposals of the Democratic candidates for POTUS. Al and Andy agree that it’s important for every contender to lay out their plans to get to universal coverage, but exhort them not to squander the enormous…
A Conversation With Howard Fineman
Jul 30, 2019 • 56 min
How awful do you think Mitch McConnell is? Well. He’s worse than that. Howard Fineman, who began his career at the Louisville Courier Journal, has been covering McConnell for decades. Fineman’s McConnell relishes being a big prick. When coal miners with…
A Conversation with Secretary Ernest Moniz
Jul 23, 2019 • 69 min
Former Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz and Al discuss putting pragmatic meat on the bones of the Green New Deal. Al coins a new Kennedy-esque slogan, “We choose to go to zero-carbon not because it is easy, but because otherwise WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!”…
A Conversation With Franklin Foer
Jul 16, 2019 • 65 min
In the monologue, Al talks about the appointment of Pat Pizzella as the acting Secretary of Labor. If you agree that the House should hold hearings on Pizzella’s past, check out Al’s petition here: This week, author and…
A Conversation with Dana Carvey
Jul 9, 2019 • 64 min
Al and Dana discuss political comedy and how some of the greatest moments in SNL’s political satire were created. Al promised Dana to blow smoke up his ass during this interview, and, indeed, smoke is blown. Al opens with a monologue in which he assesses…
A Conversation with David Mandel
Jul 2, 2019 • 48 min
Veep show runner, David Mandel discusses Veep and what the hell it is that a show runner does. Why Trump’s election made a dark, cynical show even darker and more cynical. Also, how David owes his entire career to Al – a career that includes writing and…
A Conversation with Michael Mann
Jun 25, 2019 • 48 min
Al talks to Michael Mann, Nobel Prize-winning climatologist for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We cover a lot of ground. How to talk about climate change to your crazy right-wing climate-denying uncle. “Uncle Hal, sea…
A Conversation with Andy Slavitt
Jun 18, 2019 • 74 min
The guy who pulled the HealthCare.Gov baby out of a burning building and then headed up Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama Administration discusses healthcare with Al. How Obamacare got so popular. (Republicans won, and their plan to repeal and replace…
A Conversation with Jeffrey Toobin and Nancy Gertner
Jun 11, 2019 • 43 min
An in-depth, but somewhat snarky, look at the Trump administration’s success in packing the courts with right-wing, Federalist Society judges. Gertner, a Harvard Law professor, and Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst, discuss some of the most cynical,…
A Conversation with Michael Lewis
Jun 4, 2019 • 48 min
Al and Michael Lewis discuss his latest bestseller, The Fifth Risk, which Al calls the best book about the Trump Administration, in no small part because there’s very little focus on Trump himself. Instead, Lewis takes us inside of three Cabinet agencies…
A Conversation With Sarah Silverman
May 28, 2019 • 51 min
Al and Sarah discuss her evolution as a comedian, the hazards of using irony in comedy (the viral death-threat against Sarah from a Florida preacher’s sermon), and the importance of growing as an artist and a person. Alternately edgy and warm and fuzzy,…
A Conversation with Dahlia Lithwick and Matt Miller
May 21, 2019 • 44 min
Dahlia Lithwick, brilliant writer for Slate on all things jurisprudential, and Matt Miller, former spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder, have a lively discussion with an impassioned Al who argues that it’s time for the House to go to an impeachment…
A Conversation With Maria Teresa Kumar
May 14, 2019 • 34 min
The president of Voto Latino, discusses voter suppression, the Wall, and immigration. At turns funny, then tragic, and angry. A fun and moving interview. To help support the organizations mentioned in this episode, visit:…
Al Franken Has A Podcast
May 1, 2019 • 6 min
In this trailer episode to The Al Franken Podcast, Al sits down with Amazon’s Alexa (Siri had other commitments) to review highlights of the upcoming episodes featuring: Maria Theresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, Nancy Gertner, Harvard Law…