WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amy Klobuchar can legislate, but can she tell a joke?
The answer is a resounding “yes” — as in bring-down-the-house, my-stomach-hurts-from-laughing, “yes.”
The senior senator from Minnesota — who will also be the freshman senator until the Al Franken-Norm Coleman race is settled — made her comedic debut Wednesday night at the Washington Press Club Foundation‘s congressional dinner, an event where aides, reporters and lawmakers of all rank and party mingle and share secrets. In many ways, the annual dinner is a lot like a day on Capitol Hill — except there are cocktails and steak. (For scenes from the event, go here. Watch the video here.)
Traditionally, a Republican and Democrat from Congress give a roast, and this year, the WPCF asked Klobuchar to strut her funny. (GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy was also part of the show.) Expectations were pretty low for Klobuchar, who wrote her own jokes and practiced them on her fellow lawmakers. But she surprised everyone.
“It worked because she went after everyone,” one journalist was overheard saying after her performance.
Indeed, no one was safe from Klobuchar’s wrath: She poked fun at Vice President Joe Biden for being long-winded; the Democratic leadership for putting her on the lowly Oceans Subcommittee — likely, she said, because she “can see Lake Superior from my front porch”; Sen. Joe Lieberman for being a turncoat; Minnesota, “where all the women are strong and all the recounts are above average”; and even White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who last year dazzled the same tough crowd with his dry, occasionally inappropriate, wit.
Klobuchar said she “raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends. … I may have the record in the Senate, but in the House, that record is held by Barney Frank.”
Oh no, she didn’t.
Reporters — the very people she was there to entertain — got their share of bullying.
“I’m all about protecting endangered species,” she said. But “great reporters? All of whom got scooped on the John Edwards story by the National Enquirer,” she asked, referring to the former Democratic presidential candidate’s extramarital affair that the less-than-reputable publication broke last year.
After all the jokes were told, however, Klobuchar ended on a more serious note. She talked about the importance of the fourth estate, and the media’s role in bearing witness to history. Turbulence in the journalism industry hits home for Klobuchar, who teared-up when she talked about her father, a former reporter and columnist for the Star Tribune and four-time candidate for the Pulitzer.
“Through journalism my dad was able to see the world,” she said.
Inspiring last words for such a funny lady.