Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell us three stories of innovative political campaigns, only one of which is true.


From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Charlie Pierce, Kyrie O'Connor, and Mo Rocca. And here again is your host, at the Oklahoma City Civic Center, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Thanks everybody. Thank you so much. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!


SAGAL: Hi, who's this?

PRATT: This is Steve Pratt from Dover, Massachusetts.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Dover?

PRATT: They're wicked good.

SAGAL: They're wicked good.


SAGAL: Well, what do you do there in Dover?

PRATT: I run a nonprofit organization that does drop-out prevention programs in 12 cities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

SAGAL: Could you give me some tips, because I have three little girls who do not like to go to school?


SAGAL: Is there anything I can threaten them with?

PRATT: Someday your money's going to run out.


SAGAL: All right. Would that require me to give them money first, so they can have it to run out?

PRATT: Yeah, it would.

SAGAL: All right. Steve, it's very nice to have you. You're going to play the game in which you must tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Steve's topic?

KASELL: Tippecanoe and lasers too.


SAGAL: The 2010 midterms are fast approaching. Politicians everywhere are doubling their efforts to mobilize the voters. But these days you need more than just a clever slogan or jingle to inspire the electorate. This week, we read about a political campaign reaching out to voters in an innovative new way. Your job, choose the true story. Do that and you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?

PRATT: Absolutely.

SAGAL: First, let's here from Mo Rocca.

MO ROCCA: Morgan Jones wants to make one thing clear, Jamie Wade couldn't be elected dog catcher. The two Texans are locked in a fierce contest for Harris County dog catcher. But where incumbent Republican Jones is touting her record of law and order ruthlessness, Democrat Wade, a former Miss McAllen, is reaching out to the county's dogs.

Quote, "A dog catcher's most important role is to keep wayward dogs safe and understand why they've run away. I want my four-legged constituents to trust me, to know that they can talk to me about anything. I'm less of a dog catcher, I'm more of a canine counselor."

To that end, she's visiting every dog in the county to shampoo them, clip their nails and sleep with them. Many nights, she loads the back of her pickup with a giant brisket to visit with homeless dogs and hear their stories. Her opponent is unmoved. Jamie Wade is a complete lunatic, says Jones.


ROCCA: If you elect her, this county will go you know where.


SAGAL: A candidate for dog catcher reaching out to the dogs in Texas. Your next story of a campaign trying for something new comes from Kyrie O'Connor.

KYRIE O: Do you like Felix Elliott, Democratic candidate for Congress from Rhode Island? Sure you do, and he has the Google pop-up ads to prove it. If you're from Rhode Island, Felix Elliott is your new BFF. Search for taxes and up will pop, Felix Elliott says tax the rich, not the middle class. Type in wildcats and you'll get, Cats? Felix Elliott has two kittens.


CONNOR: Try happy meal and it's Felix Elliott buys local produce. If it's live nude girls, well, it says, Felix Elliott has two kittens.



SAGAL: A candidate for Congress making sure that whatever you like, you know he likes it too. Your last story of a politician pushing the envelope comes from Charlie Pierce.

CHARLIE PIERCE: All politics is no longer local, all politics is technological. New forms of communications are transforming the way we all can be lied to. Sarah Palin is twittering, which seems itself redundant.


PIERCE: But in New York, Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has revived a 1950s sci-fi movie innovation, smell-o-vision. Paladino recently sent out a garbage-scented campaign mailer. Sent to 200,000 voters, the mailer features the photos of seven Democrats who have had assorted legal trouble of one kind or another. A campaign spokesman said, to emphasize the point that the mailers were infused with a, quote, "landfill odor that gets stronger the longer it stays around the house."



SAGAL: All right, here then, Steve, are your choices. From Mo Rocca, the story of a dog catcher candidate in Texas who's trying to get close to the dogs and maybe win their vote; from Kyrie O'Connor, a guy who has taken over Google so that whatever you search for, you'll get a message from him telling you that he likes it; or from Charlie Pierce, a flier that intentionally smells like garbage. It was to remind voters how stinky the politician's opposition is. Which of these is the real story of an innovation in campaigning in the week's news?

PRATT: I'm going to go with Charlie Pierce, since he's my neighbor.

SAGAL: There you go.


SAGAL: For the local price, you're going to...

ROCCA: That's sensible.

SAGAL: Charlie's story of a garbage-scented flier in the gubernatorial race in New York State. Well, we are so pleased to tell you that we spoke to the campaign manager for the campaign in question.

MICHAEL CAPUTO: We infused the stink into the mailer by putting it in the glue that held the piece together. And the longer it stays open, the more it smells. And we think that's just like Albany.



SAGAL: Well done. That was Mr. Paladino's campaign manager, Michael Caputo, talking about the garbage-scented fliers. Congratulations, Steve, you got it right. You've earned a point for Charlie Pierce.


PRATT: Thanks, Charlie.

SAGAL: And you've won a prize.

PIERCE: Thanks, Steve.

SAGAL: Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Well done.

PRATT: Thanks so much, bye-bye.

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