The orphan tour gets off to a promising start in NYC

We are in Buffalo, Wyo., and I have no idea if there are any buffalo here, as it is 1 a.m. and we have just arrived.

We have slept in many truck stops and eaten many BK veggie sandwiches with jalapeños. The cost for me and my cameraman, Shawn, is just over $5 at BK. Sleeping in truck stops is priceless. And free.

This is a very rare night because we are in a hotel. Jon, the 22-year clerk at the Comfort Inn, took pity on us and let us stay for $49 below the standard rate.

Yesterday, we met with Al Franken at his home in Minneapolis. He agreed to meet us on a Saturday afternoon because that was the earliest we could get to him from where we were in New York City just 48 hours earlier.

Al Franken could not have been nicer as he signed both the Mustang pieces that we brought with us and my 1991 Lexus. We talked about mutual friends, George Harrison, Gandhi, and sports. I only wish that we could have talked more, but his wife, Frannie, was waiting to go camping. Al and his wife have been together 36 years or, as Al said, "Almost 36 years ... we broke up for a bit in college." This is a man that wants exact historical accuracy.

Al Franken is considering a run for U.S. Senate in Minnesota. I don't see why a Jewish, Harvard-educated humorist can't be elected senator. This from a state that elected a professional wrestler as governor. And a country that has elected a C student and former booze and coke hound president. If anything, Al Franken is too qualified.

Al said to keep in touch and I believe that I will. I may one day need a presidential pardon.

In NYC, we stayed with a superhero friend of Shawn's that goes by the name of She-Ra, although her birth name is Stephanie. Dread-locked Stephanie could not have been nicer in loaning us the bedroom of an out-of-town Irish roommate. While the thought was nice, the room itself was completely unair-conditioned and covered in cat hair. And, oh yes, NYC was in the middle of a heat wave with temperatures that literally were over 100 degrees every day we were there. I slept something between 30 and 90 minutes in total in the first three nights.

On our last day there, Stephanie casually mentioned from the bed of her air-conditioned room, "Oh yeah, the landlord left an A/C unit to put in the guest room but I don't know how to install it." I was far too sweaty and exhausted to slap my forehead in frustration. I simply asked Steph if it was alright if I installed the unit for three hours sleep before getting up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a subway to get in line at 5:30 in the hopes of being an audience member at the Today show.

God, I felt like a jackass standing in the front row of a Today show audience while high school girls squealed and held up handmade signs promoting their JV cheerleading camp. All for orphans, however, and I did get the autographs we came to get from the fabulously sexy Al Roker and his sidekick, Matt Lauer.

OK, let me wrap up with a short list of some of the people who we have had on camera and sign the car through two weeks of our American journey: Al Roker, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Jeff Foxworthy, Randy Cohen, "The Ethicist" for the New York Times (brilliant, insightful, and looks like my brother), Spike Lee, Regis Philbin, Bryce Howard (Ron Howard's daughter and the Lady in the Water), Bill Scheft (long-time producer with Late Night with David Letterman), Biff Henderson (stage manager of Late Night with David Letterman), the security guards for Jon Stewart.

Of course, there are stories to go with each of these folk and so much more. But it must wait. I need to go sleep with the buffalo. Buffalo get up early and it's 2 a.m.


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