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The Al Franken comic book

ALSO: Ellison votes on genocide; updates on Hecker, Petters and Garcia; Pawlenty takes aim at public television and radio.

We haven’t mentioned Sen. Al Franken much lately, but Franken has quietly been pretty busy. For instance, he is one of 16 senators calling on the Food and Drug Administration to end a longtime ban on blood donations from gay men. He’s also a co-sponsor of a bill to end the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in regard to gays.

The Al Franken comic book
Bluewater Comics

In a statement, Franken explained: “Over the years I’ve seen tremendous movement on this issue within the military. They’re ready for it and we’re ready for it. We need to end a policy that forces patriotic Americans to lie in order to defend their country.”

Now Franken is following an unexpected lead: Rep. Michele Bachmann. And both are following the lead of Minneapolis-born porn starlet Christi Lake. Gosh, it would be fun to just leave that hanging, because what the heck are we talking about? Well, we’re talking about having a comic book. Lake’s was published by Carnal Comics in 1998, Michele Bachmann’s is currently being published under the name “False Witness,” and Al Franken’s is under the imprimatur of something called “Political Power.” Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent has more.

Rep. Keith Ellison has been a bit absent from Daily Glean as well, so let’s peek in on him, again thanks to Andy Birkey, who reports that Ellison was the tie-breaking vote on a House Foreign Affairs Committee resolution. The resolution? A call to demand that President Barack Obama characterize as “genocide” the Ottoman Empire’s systematic slaughter of its Armenian population at the end of World War I. The use of the phrase genocide here is fraught with politics — Turkey officially denies that it ever happened, and actually withdrew its U.S. ambassador from Washington in a snit over this vote. Birkey points out that Turkey is America’s strongest ally among Muslim nations, and that Ellison was unsure how he was going to vote.

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We also don’t generally cover crime stories in the Glean, unless they are especially impactful or unusual. Well, there was nothing especially impactful about the crime that Coon Rapids resident Christine Lynn Damann allegedly committed, but her motivations were novel: According to WCCO, she confessed to robbing a man in order to get money for a tattoo. It’s always maddening when news stories don’t hunt down the logical follow-up question — in this instance, what tattoo was she planning on getting? All we can do is look at sample photos from Creative Images, a tattoo parlor in Coon Rapids, and guess at what she might have had inked on her skin. Was it the brass knuckles emblazoned with the words “Treat me right?” Was it the google-eyed cat with a Dr. Seuss-like dagger stabbed through its skull? Was it the rather-insane looking Minnesota hockey player? We just don’t know, and that’s a shame.

We do have some updates, on Denny Hecker, Tom Petters and Al Garcia, who are all in one stage or another of working their way through the legal system. We’ll start with Hecker, whose annus horribilis just keeps getting more horribilis. According to the Pioneer Press’ MaryJo Webster, the disgraced auto mogul is in a bit of a pickle. Hecker’s lawyers want to quit, but Hecker doesn’t have enough money to hire new private attorneys. Worse still, he may have too much money to qualify for a public defender, even though that money is tied up in his divorce case.

According to the Associated Press, Tom Petters’ attorneys are asking for mercy in his sentencing, which is a strange thing to ask for a man who was convicted of heading up a $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme (prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 335 years in prison). Why should the courts show Petters mercy? He reportedly has a tumor on his pituitary gland, and may potentially be blinded or paralyzed by it.

Some good news for lawyer Al Garcia, who was recently sentenced to five years for possession of methamphetamine with an intent to sell. According to Nick Pinto of City Pages, Garcia was acquitted of another charge, that of raping a female client. Pinto quotes Garcia’s lawyer: “Albert Garcia is a lot of things, but one thing he’s not is a rapist.”

One thing we do discuss in Glean an awful lot is Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and today is no exception, although we’ll be brief and instead send you to David Brauer for the whole story. As reported by Brauer, Pawlenty’s budget trimming plans include nixing “the entire $2.015 million general-fund appropriation for public broadcasting.” Who does that affect? Minnesota’s public television stations, which would be out $1.361 million, and Minnesota Public Radio, which would take a $250K hit.

Hey, did anybody else see that seemingly insane redheaded woman who stormed that stage at the Oscars during the Best Documentary award, hijacking the microphone from Roger Ross Williams, director of “Music by Prudence.” Well, that woman was Elinor Burkett, the film’s producer, and that moment was the culmination of a lot of bad blood, as Salon reports. As it turns out, Lori Carlson of Shakopee Valley News went ahead and scooped everybody else at doing what Minnesota journalists do best: finding a local connection. As it turns out, Burkett spend a year in Prior Lake researching a book called “Another Planet: A Year in the Life of a Suburban High School.”

It seems Burkett is no stranger to controversy: The customer reviews on the Amazon.com page for the book include an argument between two former Prior Lake students who were on hand when Burkett wrote her book. ” The kids she chose to fill her stereotypes were misrepresented most of the time, and what remained was complete fiction,” says one; ” It really gives the ‘inside story’ of what teachers (and administrators) may deal with,” argues another.

In sports: Kelsie Smith of the Pioneer Press reports that Twins closer Joe Nathan is suffering from a “significant tear” in his right ulnar collateral ligament. What does this mean? Well, it’s corrected by something called Tommy John Surgery, named after the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who first received it. According to Smith, the surgery requires at least a year of rehab. And, as with all surgery, there are even greater risks: Not only did Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano miss the entire 2007 season as a result of the surgery, but he has never been able to throw as hard since.