Not My Job: Sen. Jon Tester Gets Quizzed On Testers Of Johns
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we take people who have risen high and we ask them to slum it for a little while. It's called Not My Job. Senator Jon Tester of Montana is both the only senator to have once been a school music teacher and - we're guessing here - the only one to regularly travel to Washington with a 40 pound suitcase filled with meat he butchered himself.
SAGAL: Senator Jon Tester, welcome to WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.
SENATOR JON TESTER: It's great to be here. Thank you. Thank you.
SAGAL: So let's start right there. We understand that that's the case - that when you go to Washington from your home in Big Sandy, Montana, northern part of the state, that you were carrying a valise filled with meat.
TESTER: Yes, that's correct.
SAGAL: That is not a normal thing to do.
TESTER: Well, I mean, it's normal if you used to butcher beef and you like good meat and you know where it came from. And we take it to D.C. with us and then we know what we're eating.
SAGAL: Yeah. Do you not trust the cows you haven't met? Is that what's going on?
TESTER: No, I - I trust those.
SAGAL: And when the lobbyists want to take you out to a steak dinner, as I'm sure they do all the time, do you all show up with a little bag - say, oh I brought my own?
TESTER: Yeah, exactly.
SAGAL: I want to confirm that something is true - that you are a Senator of the United States, that you are one of a hundred members of the greatest deliberative body in the world, but that when came to Chicago, you got from O'Hare to here on the Blue Line - you took CTA.
TESTER: That is correct.
SAGAL: Wasn't it a pain for your motorcycle escort to have to keep up with the train?
SAGAL: Oh we got to pull over because this train just stopped. So just to get your background as you say, you were as your family had been for generations, a farmer in Montana?
SAGAL: You raise, now I understand, it's organic?
SAGAL: So what are you raising on this farm?
TESTER: Well, last year we had several different kinds of grains. We had red lentils, we had peas, we had safflower, we had alfalfa hay.
SAGAL: I'm sorry, what was the last thing you just said?
TESTER: Alfalfa hay.
SAGAL: Oh, I thought you said alfalfey (ph), which I thought was a way to prank me.
SAGAL: See if he goes for the alfalfey thing. Oh, alfalfey, that's delicious, isn't it? Yeah, and you're like out there raising crops and butchering animals.
TESTER: Yeah, we are. In fact, my wife and I do it. And how I got turned onto this program, as a matter of fact, was riding the tractor. We don't get a really good NPR signal where I'm at, but on the tractor I get a decent one. And if I'm heading a certain direction I can pick you up.
AMY DICKINSON: That's great.
SAGAL: So do you like doing the east-west rows.
TOM BODETT: That's ended up being a very long row.
SAGAL: But how do you go from there in Big Sandy, Montana to the U.S. Senate?
TESTER: Well, I served on a lot of the local boards in my local community, and then I ran for the state legislature in '98 and ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006. I mean, it was just kind of one thing after another. A series of really bad decisions.
SAGAL: Yeah, clearly.
SAGAL: How often do you say to yourself, I should've stuck with the animals?
SAGAL: What is the most surprising thing about the Senate - the thing that we would be surprised to know about the Senate?
TESTER: Well, I don't know that you'd be surprised. It was a surprise to me how slow it operates. I mean, it really does, everything is slow. And, you know, it's a deliberative body and that's code for being slow, I guess.
TESTER: But it's very deliberative. I mean...
TESTER: You know, the highlight of my tenure in the United States Senate is probably this show.
SAGAL: That's terrible.
DICKINSON: No kidding.
SAGAL: That's awful.
TESTER: Trying to play to the crowd, you know.
SAGAL: Really? I just imagining there being like some like the State of the Union or whatever important thing is happening in the Senate, you're there with your headphones going, no, no, they're doing the limericks. I love the limericks.
SAGAL: Speaking of the State of the Union, one of the things we always talk about when we watch the State of the Union on TV as civilians is how much you guys have to stand up and sit down.
TESTER: Yeah, it's crazy.
SAGAL: What do you do? Do you look around to see who's standing? Do I have to stand? If I'm sitting - I'm the only one sitting, C-SPAN's going to get me. I'm going to be on the news' shows tomorrow. What do you do?
TESTER: That's pretty much it.
TESTER: I mean, you know, you're sitting there and pretty soon the person on your right and left stand, behind you are standing. And you feel like you got to stand or it's disrespectful, so you stand.
DICKINSON: So it's like that - it's like that high school...
DICKINSON: ...Musical like Oklahoma where you're like, OK, I'll stand.
PETER GROSZ: It's the end of a mediocre play like a hundred times. You know, all right, fine.
SAGAL: And then, of course, there's so many damn cameras and they're constantly scanning you guys. And have you ever said to yourself, I so want to pick my nose? I would give anything - but I cannot pick my nose because it will be on C-SPAN, I will be on the cover of TIME picking my nose.
TESTER: Well, you - before it happens, you've got to be aware that the cameras are going to be one you so you can't do anything odd.
SAGAL: Can't roll your eyes?
TESTER: Can't roll your eyes.
SAGAL: We have to ask you about one more thing before we move to the game.
SAGAL: And that is you're known for your hair. Can you describe your haircut?
TESTER: Well, it's plumb and square.
SAGAL: It's like a well-plowed field. It's got that sharp right angle.
TESTER: And it's a little different than yours, Peter.
SAGAL: It's a little different than mine.
GROSZ: In that it's there.
SAGAL: We both have the advantage of it being uniform all the way around. How long have you had - I'd say it's called a flat top.
TESTER: Yeah, exactly right. It's a flat top. I've had it since well, probably 30 years.
SAGAL: And you're easy to find on the Senate floor, I would imagine. If I want Senator Tester, he's over there with the small jets landing on the top of his head.
SAGAL: Well, Senator Jon Tester, we are so delighted to have you here with us and we have, in fact, asked you here to play a game that this time we're calling...
BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: John Tester, Meet John Tester.
SAGAL: You're John Tester, of course. Have been all your life. But what do you know about John Testers - the people who test toilets?
DICKINSON: Here - the man is a United States Senator. Come on.
SAGAL: He's not a congressman. He knew what he was getting into.
DICKINSON: Oh my God.
SAGAL: He listened to the show in the tractor. We're going to ask you three questions about the wonderful world of toilet testing. Answer two and you'll win a prize for one of our listeners, Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Senator Tester playing for?
KURTIS: Alyssa Diamond of Toronto.
SAGAL: All right. You ready to do this?
TESTER: I'm ready.
SAGAL: OK. First question - the big challenge in efficient toilet testing is - you can imagine - is finding a material to simulate the real thing for testing. After lots of trial and error, the best testers of toilets now use what? A, fermented bean curd; B, Tootsie Pops; or C, Chalupas from Taco Bell
DICKINSON: (Laughter) Oh my God.
TESTER: I'm going to go with A.
SAGAL: That's right, it was A, fermented bean curd.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: It's a special recipe, so don't make it at home. All right, here is your next question. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is very concerned, as they should be, with the quality of sanitation in the Third World. One way they have found to test a lot of toilets in the field is what? A, a high-tech device called the Nasal Ranger. You can point it at a toilet from a distance, it will tell you if it smells. B, the notorious perfectionist Bill Gates tests each one himself with what he calls the Windows Download Extreme.
SAGAL: Or C, an unfortunate but necessary technique called the taste test.
DICKINSON: Oh my God.
TESTER: Oh man. No, I got to go with A. I can't do C.
SAGAL: No, you can't do C. It's wise you didn't do C. It would've been unsanitary. It's the Nasal Ranger.
TESTER: Yeah, good.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: If you could imagine a telescope for your nose. You put it up your nose - you point it at something and you can smell it from a distance and you can find out if the toilet's working or not. Very important work. We're not making fun of them at all.
DICKINSON: OK, Peter. The man has gotten two right. Let's...
DICKINSON: Let's spare him.
TESTER: I honestly can't wait for the third one.
BODETT: There's no mercy rule.
SAGAL: He's not going to stop combining the alfalfa and walk away when it's two-thirds one.
SAGAL: It's not just toilets, of course, also urinals have to be tested. Which of these is a real technique for the testing of urinals? A, the quote, "world number one competition," in which scientists are able to observe men as they try for marks in speed, accuracy and cleanliness; B, Urinal Man, an online simulator that tries to predict which urinal a man will use in various crowded men's room scenarios; or C, the Urinal Art Show which is both an art show and an experiment in which people are shown various sculptures, only some of which are urinals trying to find what looks too weird.
SAGAL: B, you're going to go for Urinal Man. You're right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: This is true.
SAGAL: Go to urinalman.com and you will see data about which urinal a man would normally use in order to be as far from another man as possible.
DICKINSON: Do not go to urinalman.com.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Senator Tester do on our show?
KURTIS: He did wonderfully on number one...
KURTIS: ...Number two, but he did it on three, so he's the champ.
SAGAL: There you go.
TESTER: I don't know what that says about me, but hey.
SAGAL: So presumably by your own logic, this will be the highlight of your Senate career right here.
SAGAL: Really, I mean, it's like - I just imagine you in your tractor listening to our show and going, what do I got to do to get on that show? The U.S. Senate - all right. It's probably worth it.
SAGAL: Jon Tester is a farmer from Big Sandy, Montana. He is also a senator from that great state. Senator Jon Tester, thank you so much.
TESTER: Thank you. It was a pleasure to meet you.
SAGAL: Jon Tester ladies and gentlemen.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FARMER JOHN")
UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Farmer John, I'm in love with your daughter.
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