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Al Franken Getting Celebrity Support

July 28, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The list of contributors to comedian Al Franken’s political action committee reads like a celebrity who’s who: singer Barbra Streisand, writer-director Nora Ephron, actor-writer Larry David and actor Jimmy Smits.

Franken, who hosts a radio show on the liberal Air America Radio network, is considering challenging Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., in 2008. Franken moved his show from New York City to Minneapolis earlier this year, fueling speculation of a possible bid.

His leadership PAC, Midwest Values PAC, raised $500,000, according to a review of campaign finance reports. Franken couldn’t use the money for his own race, but he can contribute to other candidates, engendering goodwill.

He has used the cash to contribute to national Democratic Party organizations, Minnesota Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar and House candidates Coleen Rowley, Tim Walz and Patty Wetterling,

Among the contributors to the PAC were actor Larry Hagman, directors Christopher Guest and Barry Levinson, and writers Harold Ramis and Aaron Sorkin.

``Curb Your Enthusiasm″ star Larry David said he couldn’t refuse Franken.

``Al is a friend of mine, so more than anything, when friends ask me to do things, I have a hard time saying no to people. If he asked me to drive him to the airport, I’d do that too,″ David said in an interview Friday.

Franken, a former ``Saturday Night Live″ writer and performer, said that most of the contributors are people he knows from the business.

``These are people who do quality work who I’m very, very proud to be associated with,″ he said in an interview.

Franken says he still hasn’t decided whether to run for the Senate. Coleman’s office declined to comment, but his campaign is already making an issue of Franken’s Hollywood money.

``One of my potential opponents is comedian Al Franken,″ Coleman wrote in a fundraising letter a few months ago, ``but there’s nothing funny about his venomous ‘Air America’ liberal radio show, his high-powered and deep-pocketed Hollywood friends, his national network of Bush-haters or the magnitude of his personal wealth.″

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ When President Bush visits Miami on Monday, he might not want to take a spin around the radio dial. Chances are he’ll get an earful.

A nonprofit organization financed by Florida ports operator Eller & Co. has purchased ads on four radio stations that criticize the administration’s initial support for a business deal that shifted operation of several U.S. port terminals, including the Port of Miami, to a company owned by the government of Dubai.

``Mr. President, why did you let the United Arab Emirates, an enemy of Israel and friend and trading partner of Iran, take over our ports,″ the one-minute ad states. ``Welcome to Miami, Mr. President, but please don’t allow the emir of Dubai to control the operations and security of our port. Please don’t endanger our families. You took an oath to protect us, please honor your oath.″

The government-owned Dubai Ports World acquired operation of U.S. port terminals earlier this year as part of its acquisition of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation. Following an outcry in Congress over placing an Arab-owned company in charge of security-sensitive U.S. port terminals, Dubai Ports announced in March that it would sell the U.S. terminals to a U.S.-owned firm

Deutsche Bank, which is handling the sale, provided potential bidders with information last week. The final sale is not expected until the fall.

Alan Neigher, a lawyer for Eller and chairman of Portsforus.org, which paid for the ads on four Miami radio stations, said they’re intended to remind the public that while the furor over the ports deal has subsided, the fate of the ports remains in question. Neigher described the ad buy as modest, in the ``low five figures.″

Continental Stevedoring & Terminals, an Eller subsidiary, has filed suit in Florida contending the initial sale of P&O to the Dubai-owned firm violated contracts between partners at the Port of Miami. A judge this week dismissed some portions of the suit, but let others stand for further litigation.

The ads are running over the weekend and on Monday. Bush plans to be in Florida Sunday and Monday. His trip includes a tour of the Port of Miami.

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On the Net:

Midwest Values PAC: http://www.midwestvaluespac.org/

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Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

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