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Daily Glean: Franken’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch: dumbest controversy ever

In Monday’s local news roundup, how can Norm Coleman forces keep a straight face attacking Al Franken for an “SNL” sketch? Also: churches get “GLBT certified.” And: Why can’t you call 311 for free?

Republicans are mad Al Franken had a hand in “Saturday Night Live’s” opening sketch this weekend lampooning John McCain for approving ever-more-deceitful campaign messages. The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger and the Associated Press make it sound pretty innocent: Franken had an idle chat with SNL boss Lorne Michaels, and head writer Seth Meyers jumped on it as a sketch. But the Strib’s Patricia Lopez wonders why Frankenites had to steadily backpedal on initial flat denials Sunday.

More SNL: I suppose the “coverup” is worse than the “crime,” but the weekend’s funniest line comes from Norm Coleman spokester Cullen Sheehan, who ripped Franken for “helping attack the next president of the United States.” Of course, Sheehan’s boss was a member of a 2004 GOP “Truth Squad” that ripped John Kerry during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. So if you lambast without jokes, well, that’s great! Simply put, this moronic argument should earn Coleman’s folks a good laughing-at.

Finally, on SNL: New City Pages blogger Emily Kaiser says the skit was a snooze, but while Darryl Hammonds’ McCain impression is one of his worst, I found a few laughs in the writing, and more than a whiff of truth given McCain’s now-infamous anti-Obama sex ed ad. Again, don’t elevate satire’s outrageousness over outrages against the truth.

Another sign Minnesota is definitely a swing state now: Barack Obama is pulling his 50 field organizers from North Dakota and redeploying them to Minnesota and Wisconsin, AP’s Dale Wetzel reports. North Dakota has swung red after Sarah Palin’s V.P. nod.

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Another North Minneapolis dwelling exploded after its copper pipes were ripped out, KARE’s Julianna Olson reports. The Strib’s Chao Xiong says one neighbor was thrown several feet. The vacant fourplex, likely in foreclosure, produced quite a pancaking. One interesting facet from Xiong: the neighbor, at a pay phone, was told to call city info line 311 but needed 50 cents she didn’t have. Sure, 911 might’ve been a better choice, but shouldn’t 311 calls be free, too?

A “small amount” of the herbicide Atrazine was found in the BWCA and 90 percent of sampled state lakes, the Strib’s David Shaffer reports. That indicates the omnipresent chemical is “spread vast distances by wind and rain,” since farming is “nowhere near” the BWCA; river runoff is of course also a possibility. The parts-per-trillion readings are considered well below human health risks, but has been linked to frog deformities. An EPA panel is reviewing that last link.

The Strib’s Laurie Blake offers a nice roundup on the fitful struggle to recycle food waste. Counties are inconsistently pushing compostable pickups to hit 50-percent recycling targets. Hennepin County is only halfway to a low target. Organics collection costs more upfront and limits contractors, and there’s a yuck factor for consumers. While Minnetonka rates are puny, 75 percent of Wayzata households participate. Wayzata’s sanitation contractor was so impressed he offered it in other towns.

MPR’s Dan Olson says foreclosures have pushed up rental rates, and more folks are paying above the recommended 30 percent of income for housing. Says one social service organizer, “I have never seen … people working so hard and making so little and still not making it.”

Interesting piece from the PiPress’ Bob Shaw on local churches pursuing “GLBT certification.” The third-party nod establishes them as a place that welcomes non-heteros. While some conservative churches decry the anointment, 3,100 congregations nationwide have signed up. They say they need to prove their commitment in order to attract parishioners and clergy. Apparently, earning certification does not mean you have to sign off on gay marriage.

MPR’s Tom Robertson discusses efforts to pass a $300 million sales tax increase to benefit habitat and arts. About 200 organizations are part of the “yes” effort, but a month-old MPR poll shows 72 percent of voters opposed.

Combining cute-kid and cute-animal stories, the PiPress presents multimedia on a Burnsville 11-year-old’s attempt to keep his backyard chickens.

Nort spews: The Vikings D showed some pluck as Minnesota beat Carolina 20-10; Antoine Winfield’s crushing hit on Jake Delhomme, followed by Delhomme’s fumble and Winfield’s TD rumble, tied the score. Sore Loser here. The Twins remain 2.5 back after Francisco Liriano’s 4-1 gem over Tampa. If the Twins sweep Chicago beginning Tuesday, they’ll have the division lead; even one loss would put them 1.5 games out with three to play. Sore Loser here and here.