That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Al Franken’s tight race against incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) has been almost universally focused on Franken’s comic past and his ability to escape it. But the former “Saturday Night Live” star appears to be easing up a bit on distancing himself from his professional roots, as witnessed by plans for him to hold a debate watching party and fund-raiser on Sept. 26 at the House of Blues, hosted by Donna and Dan Aykroyd and featuring musical guest Paul Shaffer.

The race itself has been increasingly hostile. The Franken campaign used a talking fish to chide Coleman for taking special interest financed trips to exotic places, and the Coleman campaign used an eight-year-old girl to slam Franken for  failing to pay payroll taxes in some states. “Hey Al,” the girl says, “tell them your dog ate it.”

The most recent flay has been a Coleman ad that features Franken shouting expletives in anger, questioning the candidate’s temperment. Here’s spot and Franken’s response.

Whether Franken wins or not, there’s little doubt that his alumni show at 30 Rock is the big winner in this election. “Saturday Night Live” started during the Ford administration, but it has injected itself in the political lexicon in ways that rival Chevy Chase’s pratfalls that helped burnish an image of a clumsy president.

A case in point: Barack Obama told a Las Vegas crowd on Wednesday, per ABC News’ Jake Tapper, “You all remember Phil Gramm. He says we’re just going through a mental
recession and called the United States of America a nation of whiners.
I’m not making this up. You can’t make this up. It’s like a ‘Saturday
Night Live’ routine.”

And on Sean Hannity’s show on Wednesday, Sarah Palin was once again asked about Tina Fey’s imitation:

HANNITY: One last question that I didn’t ask you: Did you watch Tina Fey on “Saturday Night Live”?

PALIN: I watched with the volume all the way down and I thought it was hilarious, she was spot on.

HANNITY: Do you think you could play her one day?

PALIN: Oh absolutely. It was hilarious. Again, I didn’t hear a word she said, but the visual was spot on.

Penn Slams McCain: Sean Penn appeared in Denver with third party candidate Ralph Nader, but it seems that John McCain is driving him toward the Democratic ticket.