Political Notebook

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Al Franken

Donnelly's Secret Santa, Al Franken, is talented, thrifty

Back in his comedy days, Al Franken of "Saturday Night Live" fame was known for his ability to draw a map of America's 48 contiguous states and the Great Lakes in about two minutes.

Franken more or less swore off comedy when he became a Democratic U.S. senator from Minnesota in 2009. But he proved recently he can still draw a map.

Franken, the organizer of a yearly Secret Santa gift exchange among senators, drew Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., in last week's swap and gave him a U.S. map – including Alaska and Hawaii – he had drawn from memory.

It included arrows and notes of geographic importance to Donnelly: "You were born on Long Island!" "You went to Notre Dame!! (where you met Jill!!!)" "You represent Indiana!!"

Senators had a $15 maximum on gifts. In a story broadcast by NPR, congressional correspondent Tamara Keith reported that Franken had been able to keep his cost to the price of a sheet of paper.

"And then whatever the Sharpie cost, but I can amortize that over other maps," Franken told Keith.

Donnelly's office said he gave a book about President John F. Kennedy to Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.

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