Sen. Amy Klobuchar star turn at Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner.

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 02/05/2009, 12:07pm

WASHINGTON–Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), hit a home run Wednesday night at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner.

“So I’m up here telling the jokes and Al Franken is going to be the senator. What’s wrong with that picture,” Klobuchar quipped.

Transcript below….


Thank you Candy that was great, and thank you so much for Julie and Juliet for inviting me, to Deidre for her good work, for Nan for her courage, to Speaker Pelosi, thank you and Congressman McCarthy, I think we’re going to have a lot of fun.

I bring you greetings from the state of Minnesota where in the words of our unofficial poet laureate Garrison Keillor, all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the recounts are above average.

So I’m up here telling the jokes and Al Franken is going to be the senator. What’s wrong with that picture?

I’m honored to have the privilege to speak to you tonight. And since I’m new at this type of speech, I really, really, really have a very simple goal– and that is to keep it as short as Bill Richardson’s tenure as Commerce Secretary.

I want to thank everyone for being so welcoming. Especially the anonymous pundit who predicted in politico that my comedy skills were so limited that I was certain to quote bomb quote tonight.
I just want everyone to know that I’m not upset that comment and who said it, and I completely forgive Congressman McCarthy.

As you know, I’m from Minnesota where my first elected office was as a prosecutor for 8 years. Which made things much easier when I got to Washington, there were so many familiar faces.

My first day in the limelight in Washington actually came as a young prosecutor when I was invited to introduce President Clinton at a an event in the White House for the Hate Crimes legislation. It was this big event in the East Room. I was so nervous standing outside of the room where I was supposed to give my little speech, I had Bill Clinton on one side and Janet Reno on the other. “Hail to the Chief” started to play. And I start walking. And all of the sudden a big hand is on my shoulder and this voice says, “I know you’re going to do great out there but when they play that song, I usually go first.” True Story. That was my beginning.

But by 2005 I wanted a new challenge so I decided to run for the US Senate. Now you have to imagine what this was like. I didn’t know anyone in Washington, no one would return my calls, and I finally decided that I was just going to call everyone that I’ve ever met in my life and that’s when I set an all-time US Senate record, and this is true, I raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends. Speaker Pelosi, I may have the all-time record in the Senate, but I know in the House, that record is held by Barney Frank.
As my husband, who is back there somewhere, where are you? points out, for me, ex boyfriends aren’t an expanding base.

But with hard work, somehow I got here and I’m a Senator.

I think in the end I won because deep down I know exactly who I am– I am a woman whose hair will never have the bounce and fluff of Rod Blagojevich’s.

I’m also someone who is a bit nave to the ways of Washington, I was a real Alice in Wonderland when I got here.

When I got here I made all kind of committee requests: finance or appropriations, commerce, foreign relations.
So somehow I got placed on the subcommittee on Oceans. I’m from Minnesota and I was placed on the subcommittee on Oceans!

It’s like being from Illinois, Rahm Emmanuel and being placed on Ethics.

I finally figured it out why Harry put me on Oceans for one reason: I can see Lake Superior from my porch.

Now, Washington DC is such a crazy place it is very different from Minnesota.

After seeing all those black limos at the inauguration I realize I went from the gopher state to the chauffeur state.

For those who have never been to Minnesota it is a state with pristine crystal clear lakes and boundless forests. Or as Dick Cheney calls it, the state that got away.

Minnesota is known as The Land of 10,000 Leaks. Now I gave the joke away! And Washington is The Land of 10,000 Leaks.

But I love our lakes. And it was great to take Barack Obama to campaign in Minnesota. Because with 10,000 lakes he had plenty of water to walk on.

Now I admit, this is a big night for me. So I called Sarah Palin and asked her what to wear. As many of you remember, she burst on the national stage in my home state of Minnesota. And that’s when I learned what RNC stands for: Really New Clothes.
(line about my $160 after Christmas special)

Now it is double pressure for me because tomorrow morning I’m speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast. My plan is to offer thanks to the Almighty supreme being who at any moment can unleash his wrath on those who don’t follow his commandments. I know half of you think I am talking about Rahm Emanuel.

The truth is this event was always trickier for me than the National Prayer Breakfast because as you know, God forgives and reporters don’t.

This room has the greatest, the most thorough, the most hard working, most brilliant reporters in the world, all of whom were scooped on the John Edwards story by the National Enquirer.

I love all reporters, my Dad was a reporter– I especially love print reporters because as a member of the Environmental Committee, I’m all about protecting endangered species.

Think about it–the New York Times may soon be owned by a Mexican billionaire–which would mean history will be made. It would be the first time Lou Dobbs tries to deport an entire newspaper.

I know there are some people from MSNBC here…

Please tell Chris Matthews that I’m a fan although I would have told him you don’t go directly to the US Senate from Hardball. He should have talked to Al Franken. You do a bit on Saturday Night Live first.

In addition to Candy, I know Wolf Blitzer is here–although he did could have appeared by hologram. That would have been just as good.

Dana Bash is here as well. She’s married to John King, they’re very romantic. Two reporters, this was really sweet, at their wedding the “something old and something new” meant Larry King and his wife.
Now, the tradition at the Congressional Correspondents dinner as you all know is to have one Democrat and one Republican speaker. As Speaker Pelosi pointed out, these are tough economic times, you could have saved money by asking Joe Lieberman. He liked that joke I tried it out on him.

Instead you asked me and a rising star in the Republican Party, Kevin McCarthy, who like every other rising star in the Republican Party must have once been on the short list for GOP vice president. How do you go home and tell your wife that it didn’t work out. “Honey I was on the short list for vice president but they didn’t think I was as qualified as Sarah Palin.”

Actually Kevin is here instead of Eric Cantor. For those who don’t know Eric, he’s a member of Congress, a real estate developer and a lawyer. That’s what we call the axis of evil

But I’m actually glad Kevin is here instead. Although I did not you at the President’s Superbowl party. He was probably invited–but as Speaker Pelosi knows, it’s just these days that House Republicans say no to everything.

So both of us have the task to comment about current events and the past year. So much has happened politically since the last Congressional Correspondent’s Dinner. I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams would have thought Barack Obama would be president. Especially Hillary Clinton.

Since this is your night off, I’ll do the reporting and fill you in on what a few of our friends have been up to.

Hillary Clinton is of course Secretary of State and she is currently brokering a ceasefire between Caroline Kennedy and David Patterson.

Chris Dodd has been working on helping homeowners get rid of their unwanted homes that they can’t afford. Like that house he bought in Iowa. I tried that joke on him too.

And John Edwards is still talking about two Americas, which apparently is the greatest pickup line in history.

Now we have a new president. And he’s our first wired president. He is never without his Blackberry. Although like many Americans I look forward to a colorblind society when we can just call it a Berry.

Ok, oh come on you guys, I’m only like five minutes into this speech, it is still shorter than a Joe Biden sound bite.

Now this new president had a great inauguration. Of course there were a few little problems like the people who waited in line and never got in to actually see the inauguration. There were tens of thousands of people stuck in what’s being called the purple tunnel of doom. They came to DC, they spent thousands of dollars to get here, and they got left out in the freezing cold. So much for Democrats being against torture.

One solution is to send them some kind of commemorative plate. Another solution is to just send them $50 billion from the TARP funds. Personally I have a better idea.

I’ve put together a photo album we can send everyone, with pictures I took at the inaugural. Here we go:

Now first you see this crowd shot with 2 Million people, the sea of faces, and you see in back that yellow circle, that would be Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s seat. Right back there. That little blue circle back there, that’s my original seat. And so this in our next slide is where I ended sitting after I made a call to Rod Blagojevich. That is also the entire US Senate delegation from Minnesota.

Now this is the President sort of tinkering with his inauguration speech. He’s thinking, hmm, what would Joe Biden do in this situation? Oh, that’s right, he’d add 50 pages.

Ok, now we have next, Aretha’s hat. Ok, now if you look carefully at this photo, and this is a new development, I know there has been a lot written about the hat, but the hat is actually larger than George Bush. And it was a tough choice for the organizers: Should they let in 50,000 more people or let in the hat? They went with the hat.

Ok, now here’s a great one. This is Rahm greeting Congress. Some were offended by this, but I thought it was great. If it was the old days, he would have used just one finger. That’s the new Rahm.

Now here we have Dick Cheney in a wheelchair. Even on this cold day, he still radiates warmth and sunny cheerfulness. Doesn’t he look like he’s about to say “Prepare to die Mr. Bond.”

Now we have John Roberts – we’ll remember the moment forever, administering the oath. When he was reading the words, as many of you remember, he messed up the word faithfully. Somewhere, Eliot Spitzer and Vito Fossella are saying “Join the Club.”

Ok, now here’s my last photo. Hhere is Rick Warren, his hair looks messy in this photograph. And This is what happens if you have offended every gay stylist in the United States of America.

Ok, well,
Tonight has been a lot of fun and I want to thank you again for inviting me. As I mentioned, my dad spent his life as a journalist. He wrote for fifty years and is still writing….he was first with the AP, then he was a sportswriter and then a columnist for a very long time at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. When he was with the AP, he wrote the story that went around the world…it called the race for Kennedy in 1960 when it was so close but the votes from the Iron Range of Minnesota where my dad grew up were still out and he knew that they would go Democratic and then Minnesota would go Democratic and then Kennedy would win. The story called it for Kennedy.

My dad came up at a time when newspapers were flourishing. He came from an iron ore mining town where my grandpa worked 1500 feet underground. Through journalism, my dad was able to see the world. He interviewed everyone from Ronald Reagan to Ginger Rogers to Mike Ditka. He covered the ’68 convention, he covered Watergate and he was nominated for a Pulitzer prize. But throughout it all, he knew that his job was to be a witness to history, to tell the stories that defined his time.

Now I know that things, despite the jokes are much tougher for newspapers and journalists, but your responsibility today is just as great. You are the witnesses to these turbulent times, the reporters who will document forever whether we fail or succeed, whether we are courageous or timid. This may be the most momentous time in our lives and you will bear witness to it. Now we each have our jobs to do.

It has been a privilege to be here with you tonight, thank you very much!