Who's Bill This Time
BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'll take care of that odor. I'm your Bill Kurtis-y (ph) flush.
KURTIS: And here's your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill. Thanks, everybody - fine show for you today. Later on, we're going to be talking to Lee Unkrich. He's the director of the new Pixar film "Coco."
But first an apology - whenever NPR shows broadcast foul language, even if we bleep it, we always send out a note to all the NPR stations across the country saying what the word was so they're not surprised by it. And due to a strange technical error this week, one of those advisories about an F-bomb got posted in giant letters on the news crawl on the front of NPR headquarters.
SAGAL: This is true. It was basically like, hey, everybody. Here's this word we don't ever use in 8-foot letters moving across the front of our building in D.C.
TOM BODETT: That seriously happened?
SAGAL: That seriously happened. So anyway, NPR regrets the error.
SAGAL: Well, they regret the error. We F-ing love the error.
SAGAL: So we do ask you, though, to watch your language when you call in to play our games. The number is 1-888-WAITWAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. It's time to welcome our first listener contestant.
Hi, you are on WAIT, WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
DREW FORSTER: This is Drew Forster calling from Boston, Mass.
SAGAL: Hey, Boston. I know Boston pretty well.
SAGAL: Got some New Englanders here. What do you do there in Boston?
FORSTER: I'm the director of communications for the Salvation Army.
SAGAL: Oh, wow. So this is coming up at a big time of year for you.
FORSTER: Absolutely. Our red kettles will hit the streets next week in this neck of the woods, and we'll be helping an awful lot of people at the holidays.
SAGAL: Well, that's important. And I've always wondered, do you have to wear a uniform? Because I know Salvation Army people sometimes wear uniforms.
FORSTER: Some of us wear uniforms when we go out and ring the bell. I will.
SAGAL: Yes or no - are Salvation Army uniforms sexy?
FORSTER: (Laughter) You'd have to ask my wife.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: Drew, welcome to our show. Let me introduce you to our panel. First up, it's a features writer for The Washington Post Style section. It's Roxanne Roberts.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: Hello, Drew.
SAGAL: Next, it's a humorist and author of the book "How The Hell Did This Happen?". It's P.J. O'Rourke.
P.J. O'ROURKE: Hi, Drew.
SAGAL: Finally, it's the humorist and author who has a chunk of cheese in his arteries big enough to treat-train a large Labrador retriever.
SAGAL: It's Tom Bodett.
BODETT: Hey, Drew.
FORSTER: Hey, Tom.
SAGAL: So Drew, you, of course, are going to start us off with Who's Bill This Time. Bill Kurtis is going to read for you three quotations from the week's news. Your job - correctly identify or explain two of them. Do that, you win our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?
SAGAL: Now your first quote was something printed on a special souvenir ball cap.
KURTIS: "Donald and Shinzo - make alliance even greater."
SAGAL: That hat was a souvenir of our president's trip where?
FORSTER: I'm going to say China.
SAGAL: Well, I'm going to give it to you even though that hat was in Japan. It was about his general Asia trip. So yes, Asia.
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SAGAL: It was...
FORSTER: Thank you very much.
SAGAL: It was the president's first official trip to Asia so he could confer with our allies in Japan and China, threaten our enemy in North Korea and check in on the children who sew his ties.
BODETT: Well, it seemed like he and Xi in China got along famously.
SAGAL: They did, yeah. They really enjoyed each other's company.
BODETT: He had, you know, he looked in and saw his soul moment, like Bush and Putin kind of thing.
ROBERTS: That's just because he was like - he loved the red carpet, and he loved all those little kids waving the flags. He just, like, eats that stuff up.
O'ROURKE: Oh, no kidding.
SAGAL: Oh, yes.
O'ROURKE: He says, I don't blame you for taking advantage of my country. I'd done the same thing if I was in your position.
BODETT: No, no, he did.
SAGAL: Yeah, he did actually, yeah. You know, he decided - and you're right, Roxanne, because a year after the election, foreign leaders have figured out how to handle Trump. You just throw him a big party, and you flatter the hell out of him. And he'll do whatever you want. So yeah, they did this big thing in the Forbidden City with a red carpet. They almost never do that. They had this big pageant. Trump was absolutely thrilled. He publicly forgave them for, like, our trade imbalance.
SAGAL: And then he - it's true. I'm not - he actually did that.
SAGAL: And then he turned to Xi Jinping and he said, oh, wow, now can I do that fun ride where I get to stand in front of a tank?
ROBERTS: You know what would make him really happy?
ROBERTS: If they could put - if he could put the Trump name on the wall. I think he has wall envy.
SAGAL: He'd enjoy that, yeah.
ROBERTS: Don't you think he has wall envy?
SAGAL: He would do it.
BODETT: He didn't make it to the DMZ in Korea, which was unfortunate.
SAGAL: He tried. He was going, but the bone spurs acted up.
BODETT: I was looking forward to him mooning the North.
SAGAL: Yes. All right, Drew, here - Drew, here is your next quote.
KURTIS: "Boring can win."
SAGAL: That was the headline from Business Insider about whose big wins on Tuesday night?
FORSTER: I'm going to say Ralph Norman's (ph).
SAGAL: Well, you're close. It's actually Ralph Northam. But yes.
FORSTER: Northam, Northam.
SAGAL: It's close enough. Yes, that's right. He is one of the many Democrats who won...
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SAGAL: ...On Tuesday night. That was very good.
SAGAL: That sound you heard across the country on Tuesday night were Democrats celebrating elections they wouldn't have cared about in any other year. They're like you may have the White House, the Congress and the courts, but the St. Petersburg, Fla., city hall is ours.
SAGAL: And the big race was, of course, in Virginia. Ed Gillespie, the Republican, was beaten by the famously boring Democrat Ralph Northam. Even his name has um (ph) in it.
SAGAL: And what happened was that Northam wasn't particularly, I guess, charismatic. But Gillespie tried to run this Trumpist campaign, but he's an establishment guy. He's a lobbyist. His heart really wasn't in it. He tried to run like Trump, but he couldn't pull it off. He just reached out shook women's hands.
BODETT: I think actually, though, the boring is good slogan could have legs.
BODETT: I mean, all of our blood pressure is too high.
BODETT: It's frightening to turn on your phone in the morning. And to just run on that, just like - we won't bother you.
BODETT: Just put us in - we'll just, like, do thing - we'll do, like, just little regulations, a few things like that. We'll send out press releases on Fridays after 5:00.
SAGAL: Yes. Go and have your weekend.
ROBERTS: The big problem with the Democrats - if you've been following them for any time, you know they're going to screw it up in some way. They're going to do something really dumb because that's what they do...
ROBERTS: ...You know, in a very well-meaning way.
SAGAL: The Democratic Party - we apologize in advance.
SAGAL: All right, here is your last quote.
KURTIS: "Two hundred and eighty characters? Bleep that."
SAGAL: That was author Stephen King railing against a social media platform making a big change. What was it?
SAGAL: Yes, Twitter...
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SAGAL: ...You said, it seems, with some heat.
SAGAL: Twitter, of course, is the website where you can go and hate people you've never even met.
SAGAL: And ever since it was started, of course, some years ago, it was defined by its 140-character limit. It forced people to be pithy and brief and use completely incomprehensible abbreviations - MRGTYHWIM.
O'ROURKE: What does that mean?
SAGAL: I have no idea. I made it up. But now everybody...
SAGAL: Everybody has 280 characters, which means they can just go on saying anything they want about anything with no thought to brevity or even, in most cases, just wandering around dithering, floundering - then, in the end, finally just trailing off because they don't really even have an ultimate point or joke.
BODETT: Seems like - you know, 280 characters - we're gonna need paragraphing now.
SAGAL: I know. Like, if I wanted to read people's messages that, like, went on, I'd go just read my email. I know. I know - let's see - P.J., you're not a tweeter, right?
SAGAL: No, no. I know, Roxanne, you sometimes do. And Tom, you're on. Do you like the new, longer tweets?
BODETT: Well, I've only done one, and that was to make fun of the new, longer tweets just - Thursday, the day it happened. And I think I was the last one that they let do that...
BODETT: ...You know, 'cause they kind of rolled it out, right?
SAGAL: Yeah, yeah.
BODETT: Like, some people got the privilege, then others, then others.
SAGAL: Yeah, yeah.
BODETT: I think I just got it - got mine Thursday.
But I don't like it, although I think it might improve certain people's disposition. It's kind of like if you pass - if somebody cuts you off in traffic, you have, like, three seconds to say...
BODETT: ...What's on your mind. And you just say, you're an idiot, you know - whereas if you had 20 seconds, you could say, you know, you cut me off there. And...
BODETT: ...Had you looked a little more carefully before you entered the road, we wouldn't have had that near-collision.
BODETT: And that would get you shot for sure.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Drew do on our quiz?
KURTIS: You're a winner, Drew. Congratulations.
SAGAL: Well done.
SAGAL: Thank you, Drew. And good luck this season with the Salvation Army's good work.
FORSTER: Thank you.
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