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Racy skits involving female co-stars were typical for Franken's USO tours

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 21, 2017. Franken shares little ideology in common with President Donald Trump, but as former NBC stars, both men are examples of how politics has been celebritized — and now, of how political scandal has. (Al Drago/copyright 2017 The New York Times)

ST. PAUL—A script for a USO performance that Al Franken worked on called for "Dr. Al Franken" to perform a "breast exam" on stage before cheering American soldiers, according to Franken's own reading of the script and a video of one of the performances. The 2003 performance also included a moment where, Franken said, "I just grabbed her and kissed her, and she fights me off."

The script was read by Franken in a January 2004 interview with Terry Gross' National Public Radio show "Fresh Air" in which he recalled performing it for soldiers in Iraq weeks before.

A recording of the skit being performed in Kuwait has been posted to YouTube.

In the NPR interview, Gross and Franken discuss that some material in USO tours could be seen as inappropriate in other settings.

It's of interest now because Franken is under fire after a different female performer went public with accusations that, in 2006, Franken "forcibly kissed" her while rehearsing a skit on a subsequent USO tour. The woman, Leeann Tweeden, also published a photograph showing a grinning Franken grasping at her breasts while she was asleep aboard a military plane returning from that 2006 tour.

Franken, who now faces a Senate ethics probe and calls for him to resign, has apologized for the photo but not explained it. He has said he remembers the kiss differently but hasn't explained his recollection of that incident either.

Franken, a Democrat, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008.

Exactly how — if at all — the 2003 script and performance plays into Franken's 2006 behavior is unclear. Franken's office did not return a request for comment Monday.

But some of the similarities are striking.

Recounting the moment where "Dr. Al Franken" was to give the female performer a breast exam, Franken said: "I'd approach her with my hands out. She'd go 'Al, at ease!' And I'd say, 'Too late for that now.' Then she'd go 'Oh, get out of here!' "

It's unclear if that bit was also included in the 2006 tour Franken did with Tweeden, a TV and radio anchor and model.

Entertainment tours put on by the United Service Organizations have long been racy; Tweeden herself said the skits she was part of with Franken — Franken was emcee — were full of that flavor.

"Like many USO shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience," Tweeden wrote.

The 2003 skit involved Franken and actress Karri Kathleen Turner in her role as Lt. Harriet Sims in the TV series "Jag." The skit involves a fictional Franken auditioning for the show. In the performance recorded from Kuwait, Franken appears to kiss Turner, who moments later pulls a soldier from the audience and kisses him.

To watch a video of the Al Franken performing in 2003 on a USO tour, go online to www.inforum.com

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