Al Franken, Giant of the Senate.
Seriously. I just finished the audio version, read by the author, and seriously, I plowed through about 12 hours of audio in a little more than 48 hours. It's warm and candid and pissed off and uplifting and snarky all at once, and the part about Ted Cruz alone is priceless. But really, anyone who thought Franken is just a funny guy who ran for Senate as a "stunt" of some sort now must admit that he's Harvard educated and very smart and a total nerd, and a damn workhorse and policy wonk in the Hillary Clinton mold. He confesses the times he screwed up and is upfront about his own weaknesses, and his staff is known to slip him a note that says, "You're being an asshole," when he gets carried away questioning someone on a committee, for instance. I knew he was a very smart guy and I'd read a couple of his earlier political books, but those were written more for laughs (solidly researched laughs, but laughs nonetheless). This is different. It's still funny in a droll, self-deprecating way, but his sincerity and commitment to his job can't be questioned. He shares a lot of insider insight into the grind of the job.
He's not kind about some of his Republican colleagues, (cough, cough: Cruz) but this book, which wraps up with what we are facing in the Trumpistan era, is so deeply warm and real and uplifting, I feel better, and more positive about the future. I'm reminded that we do have some smart and decent people in Washington. They just don't have control of the House, Senate, or Supreme Court, because gerrymandering and voter suppression and some truly vile stunts pulled by the Republicans, but they're working the rigged system they're in, and getting results. Not always results that make the nightly news, but results for actual people.
Then, of course, there are the Republicans. There's nothing new here for any of us who have been paying attention for years, other than confirmation that they really are what they seem. Yet Franken actually worked to forge relationships with a few, and built some bridges across party lines here and there. But not with Cruz. Everybody hates that SOB.
I am not a huge Al Franken fan. His humor is not always my cup of tea. In fact, when he retold some stories about private jokes falling flat among Senate colleagues, I listened and thought, "Yeah, that was kind of an asshole joke, Al." But what struck me over and over was his commitment to the work. He might make bad jokes at times, but he's a nerd and a policy wonk to his bones, and he's open to notes about being an asshole. We as a country are lucky to have him in the Senate.