First, U.S. Sen. Al Franken wouldn’t stand to meet billionaire T. Boone Pickens. Then he got into it with the latter-day domestic-energy guru — “a lively conversation” were Franken spokeswoman Jess McIntosh’s words — over Pickens having paid for “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ads against Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign. Unseemly treatment for the featured guest at today’s Senate Democrats policy lunch? Perhaps — but it seems like old times too, recalling the greetings given to then-President Bush and Vice President Quayle by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone soon after he took office.
Franken knew who the guest was going to be (a controversial choice) and presumably arrived loaded for bear, just in case. Wellstone was likewise prepared to meet the president of the Senate. In Sarah Janecek’s words:
The beginning of Paul Wellstone’s first term in the U.S. Senate was also inelegant. He thrust a cassette tape of Minnesotans expressing opposition to the Gulf War into the hands of then-Vice President Dan Quayle.Indeed, Wellstone took a while to adjust to Washington, D.C. protocol, as remembered at CounterPunch:
So when Wellstone met Bush in a typical White House pro forma reception line, he used the occasion to urge Bush on three different occasions to spend more time on issues like education and cautioning him against the Persian Gulf War. Of course, Bush was more concerned about fighting the war against Iraq (sound familiar?) and could care less about Wellstone’s issues. After Wellstone violated Bush 41’s sanctimonious White House protocol, Bush was overheard saying, “Who is this chicken shit?”