Cover art for podcast The Al Franken Podcast

The Al Franken Podcast

74 EpisodesProduced by District ProductiveWebsite

A five-time Emmy winning SNL comedy writer/producer, joins a four-time #1 NYT bestselling author, a three-time highest-rated national progressive radio host, a two-time Grammy winning artist, and a former US Senator. So, it gets a little crowded in the booth when Al talks public policy and sometimes… read more

74 Episodes | 2019 - 2020

Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize Winner for her Writing on Pandemics and Andy Slavitt, Obama's Head of Medicare and Medicaid on the (Most Likely) Premature Introduction of a Coronavirus Vaccine

September 13th, 2020

55:02

Garrett and Slavitt examine the erosion of trust in our public health institutions - The Federal Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease …

Douglas Boin, Author of Alaric the Goth – An Outsider’s History of the Fall of Rome, Discusses the Uncanny Parallels Between Trump’s America and 410 AD Rome,

September 6th, 2020

54:03

Hatred of immigrants, religious intolerance, systemic racism. Asshole emperor. Sound familiar? Al and Douglas Boin tells the story of Alaric, the …

David Axelrod on the Election. Spoiler Alert: He's for Biden

August 30th, 2020

53:11

The political consultant who consulted Barack Obama all the way to the White House discusses how we get Biden there.

Repeating My Conversation with Chris Rock Because It's So Damn Great!

August 23rd, 2020

50:54

Chris discusses being a comedian, being black, being a black comedian, being bussed for nine years as a kid, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Author Susan Nieman on Germans/Holocaust vs. Americans/Slavery – Germans Win

August 16th, 2020

50:54

Nieman contrasts how Germans have come to terms with The Third Reich and how Americans have processed slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, lynching, and systemic racism.

Paul Begala on How to Beat Trump

August 9th, 2020

54:23

The stable half of the consultant team that elected Bill Clinton tells us how to beat this psychopath – on the podcast and in his new book, You’re …

Andrew Yang and Al Discuss Each Other

August 2nd, 2020

54:54

Yang and Al Discuss, Among Other Things – Yang’s Past, the Future of Work, and the Present.

Fmr. DC and Philly Police Chief Charles Ramsey Talks Police Reform

July 26th, 2020

54:04

Al in conversation with the co-chair of Obama’s police reform commission.

Dahlia Lithwick on SCOTUS 2019-20 Term and Trump's Commutation of Roger Stone's 40-Month Sentence

July 19th, 2020

55:59

Al and Dahlia discuss the Court's top decisions, including Bostock, which held that federal law prohibits employment discrimination agains LGBT workers, and whether Alito's dissent in that case was "very gay."

Epidemiologist Abdul El-Sayed Blames the Latest Covid Spikes on Guess Who?

July 12th, 2020

56:36

Al and Former Detroit Public Health Commissioner on the Mistakes Trump Keeps Making.

Democratic Election Lawyer Marc Elias Talks to Two Texas Teenagers About Winning Them the Right to Vote By Mail in November

July 5th, 2020

56:09

Recent high school graduate Rajit Gulhati contacted Al for guidance on how he and his friends could vote by mail. So, Al brought in Democratic super …

A Fourth of July Conversation with Thomas Jefferson

July 4th, 2020

7:16

Al sits down with the author of the Declaration of Independence on the anniversary of our nation's birth

Melvin Carter Talks About Being St. Paul’s First Black Mayor and the Son of a Cop

June 28th, 2020

54:06

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter Discusses the Aftermath of George Floyd’s Murder

Frm. Obama Speechwriter David Litt Explains How the GOP Has Systematically Undermined Democracy.

June 21st, 2020

53:16

In his new book: Democracy: In One Book or Less fmr. Obama speechwriter and NY Times bestselling author brings fascinating and often startling detail to all the ways the GOP thwarts democracy. 

Atlantic Writer George Packer on How the Pandemic and George Floyd’s Murder have Laid Bare America’s Weaknesses

June 14th, 2020

54:29

Packer and Al discuss the how a corrupt political class, a heartless economy, systemic racism, and Donald Trump have led to the failures Americans …

Donna Edwards and Al Discuss Race, Cops, and Photo Ops

June 7th, 2020

54:27

Former Congresswoman Edwards talks about being the mother of a young black man and whether George Floyd's murder has finally brought us to an inflection point.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García on Teaching During a Pandemic and a DeVos

May 31st, 2020

52:27

The host (and former member of the Senate Education Committee) and the president of the National Education Association talks about an important …

COVID-19 Trailer

May 27th, 2020

5:41

This COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the greatest global crisis since World War II. Since the coronavirus hit, Al has been talking with guests about the various aspects of this horrible scourge. To date, guests include:

Paul Krugman on Arguing with Republican Zombies

May 24th, 2020

53:19

The NYT columnist and Nobel Prize winner discusses how Republicans operate in bad faith on issues like climate, tax cuts, deficits, income and wealth …

Steve Schmidt Tears Trump and the Republican Party A New One

May 17th, 2020

55:11

The former GOP strategist trashes Trump and his enablers. And gives a surprisingly personal explanation of why it took him so long to leave his old …

Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant on Where We Go From Here

May 10th, 2020

53:06

From 1973-76, Dr. Larry Brilliant was part of the World Health Organization team that eradicated smallpox and is Chairman of the Board of Ending Pandemics. He discusses how we go forward on Covid-19 after blowing it in …

Chief Democratic Election Lawyer Marc Elias Talks Elections During A Pandemic

May 3rd, 2020

59:24

Democrats want every eligible American to vote. Republicans don’t. Nationally renowned election lawyer Marc Elias discusses the battles ahead from now until November.

Billy and Debbie Shore, Founders of No Kid Hungry, on Hunger in America During this Pandemic

April 26th, 2020

47:59

The brother and sister team who have been doing this work for 35 years talk about how the pandemic has shined a light on childhood hunger and what we can do about it.


Michael Lewis On How Trump’s Handling of Covid-19 Has Proven His Book, The Fifth Risk, Tragically Prophetic.

April 19th, 2020

53:02

In The Fifth Risk, Lewis portrayed Donald Trump as a man totally ignorant of and disinterested in the actually functioning of the federal government. The book’s title refers to the potential catastrophe that an …

Mental Health and Criminal Justice

April 12th, 2020

53:05

Miami Dade County Judge Steve Leifman and Norm Ornstein on Judge Leifman’s remarkably successful Jail Diversion Program, which saves lives and big …

Dr. Leana Wen Discusses the Tortuous and High Stakes Path that Dr.'s Fauci and Birx Must Navigate

April 5th, 2020

55:04

Dr. Wen is an emergency room physician, professor at GW School of Public Health, and fmr. Public Health Commissioner for Baltimore under two mayors. …

Austan Goolsbee on Virus Economics

March 29th, 2020

1:12:06

The former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama speaks with clarity and common sense about how virus economics are different than normal economics.

Andy Slavitt, Former Medicare/Medicaid Head Discusses the Pandemic

March 22nd, 2020

53:00

One of the earliest and most outspoken critics of Trump's mishandling of the pandemic, Slavitt reviews its tragic consequences and where we go from here.

MSNBC's Andrew Zimmern Talks About Food, Immigration, Climate and Addiction

March 15th, 2020

57:35

Turns out food is important. Andrew Zimmern, host and producer of MSNBC’s new series, “What’s Eating America” talks about the intersection of food and health, immigration, climate, and addiction – including his own …

Documentarian Alex Gibney Tells the Cautionary Tale of the Oligarch Who Defied Putin

March 8th, 2020

54:55

Russia’s transition from a brutal dictatorship to a fledgling capitalist democracy and back to a brutal dictatorship. 

Pulitzer Prize Winner Dave Fahrenthold Catches Us Up on Trump’s Corruption

March 1st, 2020

55:17

In a time of an international health and economic crises, it’s good to have a POTUS who can be trusted by the world community. Instead, we have a grifter with an entire family of money-grubbing, lying grifters.

Is Democracy in Danger? Legal Experts Dahlia Lithwick and Ian Bassin On Trump, Barr and The Abuse of the Criminal Justice System

February 23rd, 2020

58:22

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate and Ian Bassin of Protect Democracy discuss Trump's sickening lurch toward autocracy post-impeachment with the cooperation of Bill Barr.

Intelligence Expert Malcolm Nance Makes the Convincing Case that Trump is a Russian Asset

February 16th, 2020

1:04:02

The author, commentator, and career intelligence officer lays out Donald Trump's decades-long relationship with Putin, the KGB, and Rusky Oligarchs. …

A Conversation with Jimmy Kimmel

February 9th, 2020

53:21

Al and Jimmy discuss his radio days, Jimmy Kimmel Live’s rough start, then success, bad guests, his emotional appearance after his son’s birth, and his passionate support of universal health care.

John Mayer on Playing Guitar and Singing at the Same Time

February 2nd, 2020

52:32

John Mayer talks about how he transitioned from pop star/tabloid fodder (recurrent Sexiest Man Alive) to the impossible challenge of filling Jerry Garcia’s gigantic shoes with Dead and Company, the current iteration of …

How We Got Here. Norm Ornstein on the Erosion of Norms from Gingrich to McConnell to Trump

January 26th, 2020

52:19

Veteran Washington observer Norm Ornstein tracks the erosion of norms that once allowed Washington to work. From Newt Gingrich instructing Republicans to demonize Democrats as “sick, corrupt, traitors” to Mitch …

Paul Tough on How the College Admissions System Preserves Our Nation’s Economic and Social Disparities

January 19th, 2020

51:43

The Felicity Huffman/Lori Loughlin scandal pales in comparison to the scandal of our higher education admissions system, which protects the privileged and leaves everyone else behind. 

MSNBC's Second Most Popular Host, Lawrence O'Donnell, Is Guest

January 12th, 2020

55:52

Lawrence O’Donnell - Son of Dorchester, West Wing writer, Moynihan Senate Staff director - tears Trump and CNN a new one. 

Al and Conan O’Brien

January 5th, 2020

50:07

Al and Conan discuss their time together at SNL, including Tina Fey’s shameless theft of Al’s Fart Doctor sketch and the time Al scared the bejeezus …

Sara Silverman and Al Talk About Comedy and Politics

December 29th, 2019

53:17

A replay of one of our favorite shows from early in 2019. Al and Sara discuss the risky comedy, politics and much more.

Al Solo! - Al Rants on Impeachment, Trump, McConnell, and GOP Bad Faith.

December 22nd, 2019

52:50

I rant about the dishonesty (and/or stupidity) of House Republicans during the impeachment debate. Also, about the shameless bad faith exhibited by Mitch McConnell. And the unraveling of Donald Trump’s mind – to the …

Guilty! Al Discusses Impeachment with Harvard Law Professor, Nancy Gertner and Max Bergmann, Not a Harvard Law Professor

December 15th, 2019

56:26

Al concludes that Trump is guilty, yes,guilty!, of high crimes and misdemeanors and so is AG Bill Barr after discussing facts with Harvard Law Professor Nancy Gertner and Max Bergman, director of the Moscow Project. …

Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice Talks Foreign Policy Successes and Failures

December 8th, 2019

55:03

Al and Rice discuss how immensely consequential decisions are made in real time. Sometimes you get it right. Sometimes you don't. And how you deal with tragic mistakes but have to keep on going.

Immigration, Child Separation and Voter Suppression with Maria Teresa Kumar

December 1st, 2019

36:53

A repeat of our first show with the President of Voto Latino, Maria Teresa Kumar with a new timely intro. Al finally took a week off. Okay?!

Al talks to Ambassador Peter Galbraith About Trump's Tragic Betrayal of the Kurds, and Al weighs in on the Impeachment Hearings.

November 24th, 2019

54:42

Foreign service veteran Peter Galbraith talks about his 35 year history with the Kurds and how Trump's rash decision to sell them out in Syria will undermine America's standing and security in the world for years to …

Al Talks To Executive Director of Foster America Sherry Lachman About The State of Foster Care And Al Gets Verklempt

November 17th, 2019

51:24

Al talks to his former senior education counsel Sherry Lachman about her great organization, Foster America. She helped with a piece of legislation that is one of Al's greatest achievements as Senator. In the process of …

Whoever Wins the Popular Vote Should Be President. The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg and Al Discuss Why

November 10th, 2019

49:57

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a compact to award member states' electors to the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide It …

Where There's Fire, There's Fire." Jeffrey Toobin and Dahlia Lithwick Discuss The Legal Issues Ahead in the Impeachment of Donald Trump

November 3rd, 2019

54:57

Jeffrey Toobin and Dahlia Lithwick examine the potential legal issues that may take center stage between now and the day the Senate decides whether Trump is guilty or not guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. 

Judd Apatow Discusses Comedy, Mental Health and Politics

October 27th, 2019

50:25

Writer, director, producer Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The Larry Sanders Show, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Girls, Anchorman, Trainwreck) discusses comedy, …

Al Talks with one of his Heroes, Harlem Children's Zone Founder Geoffrey Canada

October 20th, 2019

53:02

One of Al's heroes, Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, talks about transforming the lives of some of our poorest, most disadvantaged kids and how we can replicate that across the country.

Journalist Elizabeth Drew Explains Impeachment to Al

October 13th, 2019

51:11

Al talks impeachment with Elizabeth Drew, veteran journalist and author of Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's Downfall. Her heralded dissection of the Nixon and Clinton sagas makes her the go-to …

A Conversation with Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

October 6th, 2019

1:00:12

Al travels to Leader Reid’s home in Henderson, Nevada, to discuss his life and career, with a special focus on their relationship during the years he and Al overlapped in Senate. 

A Conversation with Chris Rock

September 29th, 2019

49:18

Mr. Rock is a well-regarded comedian, writer, and actor who is a friend of the host. They discuss a whole bunch of stuff.

Rising Democratic Star and Afghanistan Vet Jason Kander Discusses Putting The Brakes On His Political Career To Treat His PTSD

September 24th, 2019

45:52

Afghan vet and Dem Rising Star Jason Kander discusses his decision to put aside politics to treat his PTSD and his work meeting the housing and …

Renaissance Man Bob Kerrey Talks to Man Al Franken

September 17th, 2019

47:09

A great show for a change with Bob Kerrey, Medal of Honor recipient, Governor of Nebraska, two-term US Senator, 9/11 Commissioner, and University President, on why he can’t keep a job.  Also, China, trade, Trump and …

How Corrupt is Trump? Veteran DC Watchdog Melanie Sloan Discusses the Trump Culture of Corruption in Washington

September 10th, 2019

41:18

The least surprising episode of The Al Franken Podcast.  Veteran DC watchdog Melanie Sloan tells us Trump is very corrupt. Also Ivanka and Jared. And Don Jr. and Eric. Plus the EPA, Interior, and Commerce.  And, finally …

Obama Chief Economist Austan Goolsbee Explains the Unexplainable: What The Hell Trump is Doing On Trade

September 3rd, 2019

45:35

Austan Goolsbee, former Obama chief economist, explains that "in a crisis, the president's credibility is all he has." So, someday soon, The New York …

A Conversation with Vice President Walter Mondale

August 27th, 2019

50:55

Vice President Walter Mondale explains to Al why things have gotten so bad. And Trump is only part of it.

A Conversation with Joe Cirincione

August 20th, 2019

53:44

Nuke expert and President of the Ploughshares Fund Joe Cirincione explains why we’re now in a nuclear arms race with Russia and China. A very dark, but hilarious episode of The Al Franken Podcast.

A Conversation with Heidi Heitkamp

August 13th, 2019

54:37

The Founding Members of the Senate’s now defunct “Oh Ya! Caucus,” Former ND Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Al discuss Heidi’s new organization, One Country. How do Democrats get more votes in rural America? 1 – show up. 2 – …

A Conversation with Andy Slavitt

August 6th, 2019

54:02

Andy Slavitt returns to discuss the health care proposals of the Democratic candidates for POTUS.  Al and Andy agree that it’s important for every contender to lay out their plans to get to universal coverage, but …

A Conversation With Howard Fineman

July 30th, 2019

56:32

How awful do you think Mitch McConnell is? Well. He’s worse than that. Howard Fineman, who began his career at the Louisville Courier Journal, has …

A Conversation with Secretary Ernest Moniz

July 23rd, 2019

1:09:39

Former Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz and Al discuss putting pragmatic meat on the bones of the Green New Deal. Al coins a new Kennedy-esque slogan, “We choose to go to zero-carbon not because it is easy, but because …

A Conversation With Franklin Foer

July 16th, 2019

1:05:18

In the monologue, Al talks about the appointment of Pat Pizzella as the acting Secretary of Labor. If you agree that the House should hold hearings …

A Conversation with Dana Carvey

July 9th, 2019

1:04:30

Al and Dana discuss political comedy and how some of the greatest moments in SNL’s political satire were created. Al promised Dana to blow smoke up …

A Conversation with David Mandel

July 2nd, 2019

48:23

Veep show runner, David Mandel discusses Veep and what the hell it is that a show runner does. Why Trump’s election made a dark, cynical show even darker and more cynical. Also, how David owes his entire career to Al – …

A Conversation with Michael Mann

June 25th, 2019

48:04

Al talks to Michael Mann, Nobel Prize-winning climatologist for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  We cover a lot …

A Conversation with Andy Slavitt

June 18th, 2019

1:14:40

The guy who pulled the HealthCare.Gov baby out of a burning building and then headed up Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama Administration discusses …

A Conversation with Jeffrey Toobin and Nancy Gertner

June 11th, 2019

43:17

An in-depth, but somewhat snarky, look at the Trump administration’s success in packing the courts with right-wing, Federalist Society judges. Gertner, a Harvard Law professor, and Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst, …

A Conversation with Michael Lewis

June 4th, 2019

48:34

Al and Michael Lewis discuss his latest bestseller, The Fifth Risk, which Al calls the best book about the Trump Administration, in no small part because there’s very little focus on Trump himself. Instead, Lewis takes …

A Conversation With Sarah Silverman

May 28th, 2019

51:42

Al and Sarah discuss her evolution as a comedian, the hazards of using irony in comedy (the viral death-threat against Sarah from a Florida …

A Conversation with Dahlia Lithwick and Matt Miller

May 21st, 2019

44:51

Dahlia Lithwick, brilliant writer for Slate on all things jurisprudential, and Matt Miller, former spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder, have a …

A Conversation With Maria Teresa Kumar

May 14th, 2019

34:08

The president of Voto Latino, discusses voter suppression, the Wall, and immigration. At turns funny, then tragic, and angry. A fun and moving interview. 


To help support the organizations mentioned in this episode, …

Al Franken Has A Podcast

May 1st, 2019

6:30

In this trailer episode to The Al Franken Podcast, Al sits down with Amazon's Alexa (Siri had other commitments) to review highlights of the upcoming episodes featuring:


Maria Theresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto …

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