Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Opening Panel Round

Our panelists answer questions about the week's news: Something's Afoot at the TSA.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

CARL KASELL, Host:

From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell, and here's your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, Host:

Thank you, Carl.

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SAGAL: Thank you, everybody. Great to see you too, thank you. Happy to see you. I share your excitement. We've got a great show for you today. But first, some good news. According to a poll by a completely unreliable Internet company...

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SAGAL: ...the U.S. is still the, quote, "coolest" nation on earth.

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SAGAL: That's right.

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SAGAL: USA. Isn't that great? Bankrupt is the new black.

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SAGAL: And who better to celebrate that distinction than the modern icon of cool, Fonzie himself? Mr. Henry Winkler will be here. He'll be joining us to play our game later.

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SAGAL: But first, it's your turn. Give us a call. The number, 1-888-Wait-Wait, that's 1-888-924-8924. It's time to welcome our first listener contestant. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

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CAFFREY: Hi, I'm C.L.

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CAFFREY: And I live in Bellmore, New York. That's on Long Island.

SAGAL: You're C.L.?

CAFFREY: My name is Carolee. It's two Es on the end of Carol, and everybody always messes it up, and...

SAGAL: So why even bother? I understand.

CAFFREY: Why even bother?

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SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, C.L. Let me introduce you to our panel this week. First, say hello to a blogger and a deputy editor for the Houston Chronicle, Ms. Kyrie O'Connor.

CAFFREY: Hi.

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KYRIE O: Hi, C.L.

SAGAL: Next up, a writer for the Boston Globe Magazine, and the author of "Idiot America," Mr. Charlie Pierce.

CAFFREY: Hi, Charlie Pierce.

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CHARLIE PIERCE: Hi, C.L.

SAGAL: And lastly, a comedienne performing at the Crest Theater in Sacramento, California on September 30th, Ms. Paula Poundstone.

CAFFREY: Hi, Paula.

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PAULA POUNDSTONE: Hey, C.L. It's me, P.P.

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SAGAL: P.P.?

POUNDSTONE: Yeah.

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POUNDSTONE: It's Paula and Poundstone, but people mess it up.

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SAGAL: C.L., welcome to the show. You're going to start us off, of course, with Who's Carl This Time. Carl Kasell is going to read you three quotes from the week's news. If you can correctly identify or explain just two of them, you'll win our prize: Carl Kasell's voice on your voicemail. Ready to go?

CAFFREY: I think I am.

SAGAL: Let us do it. Here is your first quote.

KASELL: "It was one of the worst pre-game shows I've ever seen."

SAGAL: That was CNN's Alex Castellanos reacting to what big event on Thursday night?

CAFFREY: I think that had to be Obama's speech to the Congress.

SAGAL: Yes, his big jobs speech. That's right, very good.

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SAGAL: Very good. After a week of preparation, the president reached up into the attic and got out his angry face, which he hasn't used since someone bogarted his Chablis back in college.

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SAGAL: He insisted that this $450 billion jobs plan would not add to the deficit, and would be paid for, partly through cuts in other government spending, and the rest from a $200-billion Groupon he got from China.

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SAGAL: But, as he said to Congress, you got to act on that now, because it expires.

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SAGAL: And, of course, you can only use it if a bunch of other Western democracies also sign up. But he's hopeful.

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SAGAL: So it's called the American Jobs Act, very straightforward, very descriptive. This is an improvement. You know, they failed to come up with a catchy name for their health care bill, which might have doomed it really, in public opinion. So they had to get this one right, the American Jobs Act. That's good. It was a compromise between the first idea, which was the Infrastructure and Actualization of the Labor Initiative Revival Act.

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SAGAL: And the other idea, which came from Joe Biden. It was Money Good.

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CONNOR: You know, you can't accuse Obama of having a hair-trigger temper.

SAGAL: No. Yeah. You can only imagine what his children get away with.

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PIERCE: Malia, Malia, I'm giving you exactly a week and a half to stop that.

SAGAL: Exactly.

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SAGAL: If you don't get your homework done three years from now, I will deliver an impassioned speech about it.

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POUNDSTONE: Unless you're busy that night.

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SAGAL: All right, very good, C.L. Next up for you, it's a plaintive quote from a GOP event the night before, Wednesday.

KASELL: "I kind of feel like the pinata here at the party."

SAGAL: That was somebody who felt like everybody was just picking on him at the GOP debate. He was right. Who was it?

CAFFREY: Oh, how can I not know this? I watched it. Everybody picking on him. It had to be Rick Perry.

SAGAL: It was Rick Perry, very good.

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SAGAL: The governor of Texas.

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SAGAL: He was making his debut at a GOP presidential primary debate. If he didn't want to get hit like a pinata, he really should not have stuffed his belly with candy and worn his paper mache suit. I'm just saying.

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POUNDSTONE: I think that he is way leaping to conclusions to feel that he's the pinata at the party. A pinata is full of happy surprises.

CAFFREY: Yeah, really.

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SAGAL: So Rick Perry did, in fact, get some attacks from the other candidates. He's now the frontrunner in the polls. But he went on the attack, too. He thought he'd go after Mitt Romney by comparing him unfavorably to Michael Dukakis. That's a low blow in American politics.

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SAGAL: Romney responded by saying Perry created jobs slower than George W. Bush did, and Perry said not true. And Romney said that's true. Then Perry said nuh-uh. And Romney said uh-huh.

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SAGAL: And all the pundits decided that uh-huh is more presidential than nuh-uh. So, Romney was declared to have won.

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SAGAL: That summed it up for you.

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PIERCE: And then they all walked down the stage and hit Ron Paul with a stick, and a whole bunch of nuts fell out.

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SAGAL: Perry was challenged by the moderators on his dismissal of global warming science. And so, Perry compared himself to Galileo, who was, in Perry's view, somebody was once in the scientific minority and then proved right. Also, Galileo was one of the only two scientists Perry has ever heard of, and he didn't think that the professor on "Gilligan's Island" would have worked in this context.

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POUNDSTONE: He's not that good with science.

SAGAL: No.

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POUNDSTONE: I saw that video of him with the kid asking him about evolution and how he said - what did he say to him? He said well that's a theory that's out there. And the video was just - it cut off there, so you didn't get to hear the kid's follow-up question about gravity. But I think...

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POUNDSTONE: It would have been great.

SAGAL: All right, C.L., here is your last quote.

KASELL: "The check may never be in the mail again."

SAGAL: That was columnist Michael Walsh in the New York Post, warning us what big part of the U.S. government might just disappear?

CAFFREY: What?

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CAFFREY: Oh, wait, can you say it again?

SAGAL: Sure.

CAFFREY: What part of our government might disappear?

SAGAL: Yeah, a big part of the federal government. Go ahead, Carl.

KASELL: "The check may never be in the mail again."

CAFFREY: Oh, the post office.

SAGAL: The post office. Yes, yes.

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CAFFREY: Oh, thank you, Carl.

SAGAL: Two shocking headlines in the news this week. First, the U.S. Post Office is on the verge of default. And second, we still have a U.S. Post Office.

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SAGAL: I know you're thinking the post office is only good for delivering unwanted Lillian Vernon catalogs to housewives.

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SAGAL: And very much wanted Victoria Secret catalogs to their husbands.

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SAGAL: But once upon a time, children, people used to painstakingly copy out of their emails on paper with a pen.

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SAGAL: And pay someone to deliver them four or five days in the future.

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SAGAL: We also had just three TV channels, we churned our own butter, and we used our phone for talking.

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SAGAL: You guys still use mail? You write letters to people?

PIERCE: Sure.

CONNOR: Yes.

PIERCE: Absolutely. Yeah.

CONNOR: Yes.

PIERCE: I don't trust them newfangled machines. Are you kidding?

SAGAL: Yeah.

PIERCE: I put a stamp on the monitor screen, usually, when I send an email.

POUNDSTONE: I still use mail. And here's the really odd part. The delivery of the mail still is part of the arc of my emotional life of the day.

SAGAL: Really? In the sense...

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, I still go out to the mailbox thinking, you know, like the Wells Fargo wagon, like maybe something.

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POUNDSTONE: And then there it is: Bed, Bath and Beyond, 20 percent off.

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SAGAL: Carl, how did C.L. do on our quiz?

KASELL: C.L., you had three correct answers, so I'll be doing the message on your voicemail.

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CAFFREY: Thank you.

SAGAL: Well done. Well, that's an excited laugh. Thank you, C.L.

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CAFFREY: You guys rock. I love this show.

SAGAL: Thank you so much. Take care.

CAFFREY: Thank you.

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