Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) is seen here with his first...

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) is seen here with his first novel, which was just released. Credit: Beth Murphy

Rep. Steve Israel and Sen. Al Franken may be following similar career tracks -- in reverse.

Franken (D-Minn.), 63, started out as a writer and performer on "Saturday Night Live." In one of his bits from long ago, he facetiously "ran" for president. In 2009, Franken actually became a senator, and now, by many accounts, suppresses his comic urges in public.

Israel (D-Huntington), 56, began his House tenure in 2001. This year, he published a satirical novel, set during the last Bush administration, titled "The Global War on Morris." In it, a diffident pharmaceutical salesman from Great Neck stumbles into trouble in the new surveillance state.

At a time when some people actually rely on Comedy Central for news, and in a region that produces its share of cut-ups, it seems logical that a politico would try for laughs, literary or otherwise.

"My comedy's informed," Israel said this week. Much of "Morris" comes from what he heard and saw in Washington and Long Island over the years, he says.

OK, but why do it?

"Every job has to have some therapeutic outlet," he says, "and writing is mine."

This week, the onetime Huntington Town Council member even took part in the Twitter Fiction Festival that included all kinds of authors crafting works in messages of 140 characters or less.

Israel constructed something called "The Zen of Dick Cheney" and later tweeted: "Final irony -- as I sign off, House just voted to end NSA bulk data collection. No more Cheney channeling."

The Democrat -- who insists he isn't quitting his day job -- is asked where he finds time for his literary shtick, some of which has been published in the New Yorker.

"I awake every morning at about 5 and I write for two, three hours," he says.

"And then I write on planes, and I write at a particular event or a meeting that I'm at, which is how 'Morris' was written."

As a kid in Levittown, he said, he wanted to be a writer and idolized Ray Bradbury.

"If I'm with somebody and I see something that I have a burning desire to write about, I'll take out my iPhone and start writing.

"It's very impolite," he said with a laugh. "It's extremely impolite."

He added: "But now I've reached the point in my career where people are actually flattered. They say 'Oh, he must be writing about me.' So I get away with all sorts of stuff."

During his own 22-plus years in Long Island's House delegation, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) has published three novels -- of a very different kind. His fictional protagonist is a congressman named Sean Cross. In the last of the three, "Vale of Tears," published in 2003, Cross himself furiously strives to stave off an al-Qaida plot to set off a dirty bomb.

King, 71, has joined Israel in forming the Congressional Writers Caucus. Israel says that Nelson DeMille, a Long Islander who writes suspense thrillers, "is going to speak at our first meeting."

Members of Congress, he says, "all believe that they have memoirs just needing to be written" and strong turnout is expected.

If authors and politicians have one thing in common, it may be a natural bent for logrolling and mutual promotion. The back cover of Israel's book includes a quote from, among others, author DeMille.

It says: "I haven't laughed so hard since I read my last novel."