What's with the National Republican Senatorial Committee's bizarre effort to cast Minnesota Senate candidate Al Franken as a sex offender?

It would seem that there's plenty of stuff on Franken out there -- he screwed up his taxes, his mean humor means he wouldn't be able to be bipartisan, etc -- that at least has some tenuous relationship to his actual record or persona. But no, "Al Franken Wants To Molest You" is the line of criticism the NRSC has selected. First there was the ad that hilariously declared that "Franken writes about committing rape." (And Scalia writes about committing sodomy! Oh no!)

Now, there's this bizarre NRCC mailer, a comic-book style tome on Franken's supposed dabblings in comedic smut. Its cover depicts Franken as a dirty old man, luring children to his future Senate office to "tell a few jokes":


How is this effective? Franken's been married for 32 years; it's his opponent, Norm Coleman, whose marriage is the subject of rumors (one Minnesota right-wing radio host described it as "unconventional"). And the weirder the volleys get, the more they provoke this kind of response ad:


--Eve Fairbanks