Al Franken (the genius!) inadvertently speaks the truth – about Kathy Griffin's 'apology'

Maybe it was a Freudian slip.  Or perhaps the man was signaling that he's not quite so literate (or even nearly so smart) as he purports to be.  Either way, the senator from Minnesota inadvertently spoke the truth when he chimed in on the brouhaha surrounding alleged comedienne Kathy Griffin's latest public display of sheer tastelessness, posing in a photo with a decapitated head of President Trump and calling it art.

Something made my ears prick up when I heard the Al Franken sound bite that was played on Sean Hannity's radio program Wednesday.  (Funny – I can use the word "prick" when speaking of something that made me prick up my ears, but I can't use that word when expressing that Franken has always struck me as an insufferably smug little...never mind!).

I heard the learned and esteemed senator and former Saturday Night Live writer and performer say the following (which one can also read here).

"Kathy's a friend and she's a terrific comedian, but this had no business being in our public discourse," he said. "And I talked to her. She has apologized – a real, fulsome apology. She's actually begged for forgiveness, and I believe in forgiveness."

Like, unfortunately, far too many people, Franken thinks he knows the meaning of the word "fulsome," but actually he doesn't.  Of course, it can be used (and often is used) to convey fullness, copiousness, and great abundance; I even recall, in San Francisco's North Beach in the '70s, hearing talkers in front of the Condor Club (those who bally a crowd at clubs, carnivals, or the circus don't really call themselves "barkers") employ the word to describe the voluminous endowment of The Amazing Miss Carol Doda's 44DD bosom!

But "fulsome" has another meaning, going back at least to Dr. Samuel Johnson's 1755 dictionary, in which it was defined as "nauseous; offensive" and "having a rank and odious smell."  By Noah Webster's time (circa 1828), it had acquired a distinctly pejorative association with anything overdone, especially with praise or flattery that was obsequious, effusive, and ultimately insincere.  Nowadays, particularly when used in phrases such as "fulsome praise" or "a fulsome apology," it has come to mean "cloying" or "saccharine."

So anyone who uses the term "fulsome" would be wise to do so with great care, so as not to convey a meaning contrary to what was intended.

And anyone (at least anyone who's not a psycho!) who viewed the apology offered up by Ms. Griffin (who accompanied her words of alleged contrition with little eye-rolls and who said "I get it!" in the sense of "Enough already!  Can't we just move on?") would have to agree that it was a fulsome apology indeed, in the sense of  "fulsome" as "excessive" and "insincere," rather than in the sense of "full" or "complete."

So, Al Franken, who in 2003 wrote a book called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (you might think that'd be a great title for a book about CNN, MSNBC, and their ilk, but it was about "right-wing" politicians and pundits), actually spoke the truth, even if it was purely unintentional.

And here's a little side note: Fox News (which sued Franken, claiming that his book's subtitle, A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, was an infringement of Fox's trademarked "Fair and Balanced" slogan) has already committed some revisionist spin regarding the Kathy Griffin episode.

Fox, in what seems like its headlong rush to be not at all different from any other propaganda-mongering "news" network, describes Ms. Griffin's "controversial photo shoot" as one in which she is "seen holding a bloodied mask [italics mine] of President Donald Trump."  Not a reprehensibly tasteless representation of Trump's severed head, separated from his body, the way ISIS did to Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, James Foley, and countless others, but merely a mask!

Golly, it sounds almost benign, like a mere Halloween prank.  Certainly not like when "Tuffy" Gessling, a rodeo clown at the Missouri State Fair, donned a Barack Obama mask while performing.  "Tuffy the Clown" was branded as "inappropriate"; "demeaning"; "insulting"; and, of course, "racist," and he was banned from the fair for life!  Kathy Griffin may now have been fired from a couple of gigs, but I bet she'll soon be hosting Saturday Night Live.

Stu Tarlowe has had well over 100 pieces published by American Thinker.  Needless to say, his opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of American Thinker.  Among his cherished memories is that of having seen The Amazing Miss Carol Doda in the flesh.

If you experience technical problems, please write to