Minnesota Senator Al Franken, the popular Democratic firebrand and former "Saturday Night Live" comedian, has been accused of forcibly kissing a female radio host and later groping her while she slept in 2006 -- and Hollywood is chiming in.
"This is not acceptable. Not from anybody. Dem or Republican," tweeted "Thor: Ragnarok" star Mark Ruffalo, one of the first to react to the news.
Newscaster Leeann Tweeden alleged on Thursday that during a U.S.O tour of the Middle East, Franken wrote a bawdy comedy skit for the two of them involving a kiss and insisted that she rehearse the kiss with him beforehand, despite her protests.
"I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn't be so nice about it next time," Tweeden wrote.
She said that Franken retaliated against her with insults for the rest of the trip, and while she was sleeping on the flight back, took a picture of himself with his hands over her breasts to humiliate her. She posted the incriminating photograph along with her article.
Franken initially responded to these accusations with a terse apology saying he "certainly [doesn't] remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way" and he "shouldn't have done" the photograph that was "clearly intended to be funny but wasn't," but he soon followed up with a longer, more contrite statement as the story blew up on social media.
"The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women."
He continued, "I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed."
Franken requested an ethics investigation into his behavior and said "I will gladly cooperate."
The news came as a blow for left-leaning supporters, but most of them quickly denounced Franken's behavior, including some calls for him to resign as Senator. Others pivoted to saying Republicans accused of sexual misconduct, like President Trump and Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore, should be investigated and punished along with Franken.
Just so sick and sad about the Al Franken Story. I love him. This one really hurts. These guys destroy the lives of the women they abuse, and their own wives and children, and their own reputation—blew it all up—for a moment's gratification. Then send sincerest apologies?