Bluff The Listener Our panelists read three stories about our nation's failing infrastructure that actually did something good, only one of which is true.
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Bluff The Listener

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Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists read three stories about our nation's failing infrastructure that actually did something good, only one of which is true.

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis, and we are playing this week with Luke Burbank, Paula Poundstone and Bobcat Goldthwait. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: 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.

LACY SMITH: Hi. This is Lacy Smith from San Antonio, Texas.

SAGAL: Oh, San Antonio, we discovered, is a fabulous town. I mean, I had heard it. But it was one thing to experience it.

SMITH: It's wonderful. There's lots of culture and lots of wonderful places to eat.

SAGAL: Yeah. And what do you do there?

SMITH: I am a event planner and a stay-at-home mom. I have an 11-year-old and 3 1/2-year-old triplets.

SAGAL: Wow.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Whoa.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Wow.

SMITH: I get that reaction a lot.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You're an event planner professionally, so do people expect that your kid's birthday parties are just going to be absolutely fabulous with, like, caterers and elephants and stuff like that?

SMITH: I sure hope not. I'm the cheapest mom there is.

SAGAL: Hey.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: There you go.

SAGAL: Lacy, it's great to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. What's the topic, Bill?

KURTIS: Our crumbling infrastructure to the rescue.

SAGAL: Isn't it terrible when you want to jump off a bridge because you're depressed about our nation's infrastructure but you can't find a bridge that's safe enough?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: This week, though, bad infrastructure did good. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling you the truth and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play, Lacy?

SMITH: Yes, sir.

SAGAL: All right. First let's hear from Luke Burbank.

LUKE BURBANK: The McMasters dam located on the Columbia River near Umatilla, Ore., has certainly seen better days. A series of cracks and fissures that were years overdue for repair ruptured last month, creating one long horizontal gash in the dam through which a steady wave of water has been gushing day and night. It's been called a catastrophe by the Army Corps of Engineers, a disaster by local farmers and totally epic by Surfer magazine, who recently declared the wave the sickest surf spot in America because, it turns out, the gushing water forms a perfectly tube-like barrel of water that has become the destination for serious surfers from around the world, people like 24-year-old Chasen Bradford (ph) from Vallejo, Calif., who tried to describe the wave to a confused Wall Street Journal reporter. Bruh, it's like you got the best barrels ever, dude. You just drop in and wapow (ph) you smack the lip and you get pitted. So pitted, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: The reporter did not know.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: But eventually got to his real question, asking Bradford if he felt nervous surfing in front of a dam that could burst at any moment and bury him under 1.3 million acre feet of water. Bradford responded by pulling up his shirt and exposing a hakuna matata tattoo.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: It means no worries for the rest of your days, he added without irony.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: The town of Umatilla is enjoying the surge in tourism and actually sees it as a long-term boon to the local economy since once the dam does burst, the three local funeral homes will be doing brisk business dealing with Chasen and his buddies for the foreseeable future.

SAGAL: All right. Surfers taking advantage of a leaking dam on the Columbia River. Your next story from the bridge-and-tunnel crowd comes from Paula Poundstone.

POUNDSTONE: Paramedics in Omaha, Neb., were rushing a man to the hospital, fearing for his life. His heart was racing 200 beats a minute which could mean imminent heart attack or heart failure. Then, fortunately for him, the ambulance hit a pothole, which jolted the patient so hard his heart regained its normal rhythm.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: Dr. Andrew Goldswag of the Nebraska Medicine Health Network said of the man's condition, quote, "one way to treat that is with an electrical shock. Classically, you'll see it on television, the paddles, clear and the big jolt; turns out, you can do that with a pothole."

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: When news of this gets out, Philadelphia's historic cobblestone-paved streets will be jammed with cars filled with drivers and passengers with racing hearts.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: It's heart-healing pothole bounce may frame any move towards an infrastructure bill as an assault on health care interests.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: On the other hand, it could lead to van loads of cardiologists secretly filling potholes in the dead of night.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: A pothole in Omaha saves a man's life when his ambulance hits it and it fixes his heart rate. Your last story of decay being OK comes from Bobcat Goldthwait.

BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: The tiny town of Cresco, Iowa, is enduring what might be legitimately called, politely, a poop storm.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDTHWAIT: Because of recent massive flooding, the century-old sewer system has been overwhelmed and the drains are acting in reverse causing a town-wide crap-tastrophe (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDTHWAIT: Homeowners have strolled into their bathrooms and discovered that their sinks, baths, toilets have become Bellagio-like dancing fountains of waste.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDTHWAIT: A petition has already gathered 1,200 signatures, almost half the population, to change the town's motto to Cresco, Iowa, even worse than before.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDTHWAIT: One resident, who will not be signing the petition, though, is Tonya Ianto (ph) who says the situation is a miracle. Quote, "like Jesus' own septic tank backing up." She walked into her bathroom this week to find her long lost engagement ring had appeared right there on the floor. I can only hope it came from the sink, she said.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right. One of these three things happened. Is it because of a failing dam, a small town on the Columbia River is now a tourist spot being overwhelmed with happy surfers - that's from Luke - from Paula, a pothole saves a man's life as the ambulance hits it and fixes his heart rate, or from Bobcat, a poop storm in Iowa miraculously returns a woman's wedding ring from the depths? Which of these is the real story of an infrastructure failure being a success?

SMITH: Well, I love Paula. And I'm going to go with her story of the pothole.

SAGAL: You're going with Paula's story of the pothole in Omaha.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke to a reporter who covered the real story.

KELSEY STEWART: While in route to the hospital, they hit a pothole, and the jolt returned that patient's heart rate back to normal.

SAGAL: There you go.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: That was Kelsey Stewart who's a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald. Congratulations, Lacy. You got it right. You earned a point for Paula, of course. You have won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Thank you so much for playing, and congratulations.

SMITH: Thank you so much.

SAGAL: Thank you. Take care.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "POTHOLES")

RANDY NEWMAN: (Singing) God bless the pothole down on memory lane. God bless the pothole.

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