Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jimmy Kimmel has Senator Al Franken in his corner for round 3 against the GOP healthcare bill

(Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live!)
(Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live!)

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is probably regretting using Jimmy Kimmel’s infant son Billy as a political prop. After Kimmel used his Jimmy Kimmel Live! monologue back in May to plead for Republican lawmakers not to gut the Affordable Care Act, Cassidy went on Kimmel’s show to assure the host that he would never, ever vote to cut necessary health care protections guaranteed by Obamacare, even grabbing headlines by referring to the red line he would not cross as “the Jimmy Kimmel test.” Big mistake, as Kimmel has used his show as a platform to not only urge his viewers to make their senators’ lives hell with non-stop phone calls opposing the horrible ACA repeal bill Cassidy has come up with (202-224-3121, FYI), but also to hammer Cassidy for not only lying to the American people in Kimmel’s name, but for doubling down by joining in the chorus of Republicans belittling Kimmel as a mere entertainer for daring to speak out on the issue.

Well, Kimmel’s not alone, as he welcomed Senator Al Franken (D-MN) onto Thursday’s show. Franken is not only a vocal proponent of maintaining and improving Obamacare but also a member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), which was working on bipartisan solutions to fixing the ACA until, as he says, “Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pulled the plug.”


Famously a fixture on Saturday Night Live since its beginning until joining the senate in 2008, Franken first expertly chided Kimmel, echoing the disingenuous attacks on Kimmel’s activism by claiming, “I hate it when comedians get involved in politics.” But Franken, who shared his experience with a young constituent whose premature birth and subsequent health issues would have seen him exceed the lifetime caps on insurance that people like Bill Cassidy are so hot to reinstate, praised the normally less-than-political Kimmel for taking the heat for laying out what the stakes are, should what Franken called the “Screw You, Billy Kimmel Act of 2017" pass.

Kimmel started out the episode with another rebuttal to Republicans’ and GOP press attack dogs Fox News’ condescension about a former host of The Man Show lecturing people about health care. Showing and listing just some the myriad actual healthcare organizations that call Cassidy (and Lindsay Graham, R-SC)’s repeal-and-replace bill a real and present danger to tens of millions of Americans, Kimmel angrily agreed with his critics, saying, “I’m not the guy you should go to.” But here are some experts they should ask, according to Kimmel, instead of scoring cheap political points and skirting the issue of their grotesquely callous and staggeringly unpopular health bill by sneering at an entertainer who’s choosing to raise the issue on his late-night comedy show.

Talking about his colleague, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who’s planning to vote in favor of the “Screw Billy Kimmel”/Graham-Cassidy bill despite the fact that he can see “10 reasons” not to, Franken cited the words of his late friend, former Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, on why such cynical partisanship is antithetical to the job they’ve chosen to do. “Politics isn’t about winning for the sake of winning,” said Franken, quoting Wellstone, “It isn’t about power. It isn’t about money. It’s about improving people’s lives.” After three rounds, that’s Jimmy Kimmel: 3, Bill Cassidy: a flailing, hypocritical zero.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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