June 1, 2007
Anna Christopher, NPR



June 1, 2007; Washington, D.C. – Elizabeth Edwards, attorney, author and wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, discusses her health, her husband and his hair on the popular NPR news quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!®, airing this weekend. Mrs. Edwards is the special guest on the program’s “Not My Job” segment, for which she answers three questions about celebrity rehab facilities.

Said Peter Sagal, host of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!: "Elizabeth Edwards proved herself to be gracious, charming, funny, and not at all phased by being confronted by questions about something she knew nothing about. In what pundits of the future will call the Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me! Presidential Spousal Primary, Mrs. Edwards completely dominated her competition, which, so far, hasn’t showed up yet.”

Leading up to the “Not My Job” segment, Mrs. Edwards joked about her husband’s controversial $400 haircut saying, “Since he makes mistakes like the haircut, I don’t have to worry about humanizing my husband.” She adds: “he doesn’t use any hair products at all. He doesn’t even use conditioner.”

Playing a game called “You’re Rich, Famous, and Hoovering the Entire Output of the Cali Cartel Up Your Surgically Altered Nose,” Mrs. Edwards – who says she does not drink alcohol – is quizzed about the services available at high-end alcohol and drug treatment centers frequented by celebrities. An excerpt:

MR. SAGAL: All right, ready to play, Mrs. Edwards?

MS. EDWARDS: I’m ready.

MR. SAGAL: All right. First we take you to the famous Promises Center in Malibu where Lindsay Lohan will be heading soon to pay $49,000 a month to sober up. Among the things –

MS. EDWARDS: That haircut’s looking cheap.

MR. SAGAL: Isn’t it though? Who knew what a bargain it was?

Mrs. Edwards joins fellow esteemed “Not My Job” alums, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who answered questions about the habits of famous rock stars; White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, quizzed about the lifestyles of Russia’s ultra-rich; and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who correctly answered questions about Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine.

Now in its tenth year, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! offers a contemporary twist on the old-time radio quiz show, mining NPR news stories for its questions. The program is hosted by Peter Sagal, an award-winning playwright, and features NPR newscaster Carl Kasell as official judge and scorekeeper. Mrs. Edwards’ appearance on the program airs this weekend, June 2 and 3, on NPR member stations nationwide. (For stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org/stations). The program will also be available as a free podcast on www.NPR.org.

Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! airs on more than 400 NPR member stations, reaching 2.3 million listeners weekly. It has also ranked among the “Most Downloaded” podcasts on iTunes and other directories since its launch in February 2006.

The show is produced by NPR and Chicago Public Radio; Doug Berman is Executive Producer.


PETER SAGAL: And now the game where we reward people for their victories over obstacles in life by throwing something at them that they are totally unprepared for, questions about things they know nothing about.

Our guest today, Elizabeth Edwards, is a lawyer and a law professor. She is the author of a best-selling memoir, and of course, she is also married to John Edwards, a former senator, and a Democratic candidate for president. Elizabeth Edwards, welcome to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.”

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: It is fantastic to be with you.

MR. SAGAL: It’s great to have you. Thank you so much.


MR. SAGAL: Okay, you knew we were going to do this. Let’s just get it out of the way quickly. How much do you pay for your haircuts? (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: What I understand is I pay more than you do.

MR. SAGAL: Apparently, yes. (Laughter, cheers.) Actually, I have got a great deal. I just go down to my local shoeshine guy – buffy. (Laughter.) He costs me five dollars plus tip. (Laughter.) So I have got to say, though, I mean, I had always assumed that one of the things that a candidate’s wife does, particularly an accomplished candidate’s wife, such as yourself, is to keep the candidate, the husband from doing the dumb things that will make them look bad. Did you somehow miss this one? (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: He did it in California.

MR. SAGAL: Exactly.

AMY DICKINSON: That explains it.

MR. SAGAL: We knew that when he got the $400 haircut, you must have been nowhere around.

MS. EDWARDS: And I understands are less for crazy in California. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: Apparently. Can I ask what did you say – what did you say to your husband when you heard that he had paid $400 for a haircut and it hit the news.

MS. EDWARDS: He was making so much noise, it was hard to be heard. He was not happy about it – (laughter) – both the cost and the news.

MR. SAGAL: Right. Let me – I wanted to ask you about that because just your role as a candidate’s wife, as is more and more common these days of course – you of course, a remarkably accomplished person in your own right.

MS. EDWARDS: You’re saying this before you batter me to death. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: I know, exactly, we’re buttering you up. No, my question is, how does someone such as yourself play the role of the candidate and hopefully, from your perspective, the office holder’s wife. Do you have to find the right role for yourself? Do you worry about that?

MS. EDWARDS: I don’t worry about it. I mean, as long as you’re yourself during the process, you figure people will make their decision about whether they can tolerate you or not. (Chuckles.) If they can tolerate you as you are, then you can keep being that way, and if they can’t, then you find out pretty early.

MR. SAGAL: I know that Michelle Obama, Barrack Obama’s wife, seems to have hit upon actually going out in public and insulting her husband – (laughter) – in mild ways, you know. Oh, that Barrack Obama, he never does this right. Ha, ha. (Laughter.) And this apparently is successful it humanizes him, makes her look good. Have you thought about that?

MS. EDWARDS: Since he makes mistakes like the haircut, I don’t have to worry about humanizing my husband. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: Your husband, Mr. Edwards, of course, a very successful lawyer, an extraordinary gifted public speaker, very persuasive. Is there anything he couldn’t convince you to do?

MS. EDWARDS: (Laughter.) There is not a chance in the world I’m answer that. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: All right. (Laughter) Now you have been married for a long time, you and Mr. Edwards, or Senator Edwards. And we understand that your first date was at a fast-food restaurant.

MS. EDWARDS: Well, our first anniversary was at a fast-food restaurant. Our first date was a – at one of the Holiday Inn lounge with a strobe ball and a disk jockey. I couldn’t hear a word he said the entire time. It was maybe the worst date I had in the previous 10 years. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: Really.

MS. EDWARDS: Yeah, but he kissed me on the forehead at the end of the date and he won me over. Amy can tell you, this is – it’s those sweet gestures men never do that actually win you over.

MR. SAGAL: So wait a minute. You’re telling me that you had this wonderful date – I mean, I’m sorry; you tell me you have this terrible date. You’re sitting there, my god, this is terrible. But the fact that he kissed you on the forehead turned you around on this guy.

MS. EDWARDS: It did. Well, you know, it was a sweet gesture and a promise of sweet things to come.

MS. DICKINSON: It offsets the disco ball nicely I think. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: All right, so you marry him.

P. J. O’ROURKE: Of course in the dim light, which is disco ball, he might have just missed, you know. (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: And the last 30 years have been a mistake then. (Laughter.)


MR. SAGAL: Well, speaking of that, speaking of that – so – all right, so fine, you come around, he kissed you on the forehead. You’re like, okay – you marry him, and then for your first anniversary he takes you to a Wendy’s.

MS. EDWARDS: (Chuckles.)

MR. SAGAL: It was a Wendy’s right.

MS. EDWARDS: A Wendy’s.

MR. SAGAL: At that point you’re thinking, okay, maybe I was misled by the kiss in the forehead. (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: Yeah, no. That has pretty much been the tone for our entire marriage. We had a one-night honeymoon and an anniversary at Wendy’s and really every subsequent anniversary at Wendy’s. But I wouldn’t trade the last 30 years.

MR. SAGAL: Of course not. Given the nature of our show, can you tell us something about him that most people don’t know or wouldn’t guess, something that is juicy? (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: He doesn’t use any hair products at all.

MR. SAGAL: I’m sorry, I would like you tell me something true. (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: He doesn’t even use conditioner.


MS. EDWARDS: He only uses shampoo. He doesn’t use any hair product.

MR. SAGAL: That is amazing.

MS. EDWARDS: I know. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: Wow. Does that mean when you sort of touch it, does it, like, make a hollow noise?

MS. EDWARDS: (Chuckles.) Like when you bump on it, there is an echo?

MR. SAGAL: Yeah, exactly.

MS. EDWARDS: No. (Chuckles.)

MS. DICKINSON: You have to understand that Peter is unusually fascinated by hair. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: I know.

MS. DICKINSON: You know, you have just got to –

MS. EDWARDS: That is why – that is why I handed that one up to him.

MR. SAGAL: I appreciate that.

MS. DICKINSON: Yeah, just go with it.

MR. SAGAL: Enough about him; let’s talk about you. (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: Finally.

MR. SAGAL: I did want to ask how is your health? How are you feeling these days?

MS. EDWARDS: I’m feeling great. You know, except for, like, too many hotdogs at the baseball end-of-season picnics.

MR. SAGAL: Sure. One of the odd things of course about your personal situation is that your illness became national news, which is not, shall we say, a typical experience for anybody. Was that difficult? I mean, you have written about it now of course in your own book.

MS. EDWARDS: I have, but, I mean, I honestly did not expect the – all of the attention that it got. We knew there were people who were curious because John had canceled an event in Iowa to come back and be with me for some testing, and so people were curious, so we just decided to go ahead an announce it. We did not expect it to be teased every six or seven minutes on CNN prior to that. And it just got a lot more attention than we though– it doesn’t bother me. We have been living in the public eye for a while now.

MR. SAGAL: Wow. I mean, I know. At the same time, you have got some awfully personally questions from some people. If I had been in your situation, I would be in jail for trying to strangle Katie Couric with her own lavalier mike. (Laughter.)

MR. KASELL: You would have to get in line for that one.

MR. SAGAL: Yeah, I guess so. But, I mean, and people have criticized your husband and they have criticized you. That must be sometimes difficult to take. They don’t know you or –

MS. EDWARDS: Except that they don’t know me, you know, so you can let it roll off you. You’re going to get criticism from a lot of quarters. The great thing has been that people who have actually been in my situation, those are the people whose opinions matter to me and they have been unbelievably supportive. Unless you have been here, know what it is like to try to decide with real meaning how you’re going to spend the rest of your life, you know, with some appreciation that that is not an unlimited period of time, it’s hard to know what decision you would make. Even the people who have been critical, I honestly think if they were in the same situation would decide to embrace the life that they have chosen just as hard as we have embraced ours.

MR. SAGAL: And are your kids enjoying it because I know you have two young children, as well as a daughter in college?

MS. EDWARDS: The children enjoy the traveling; they enjoy the people. They do not enjoy the speeches. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: Oh, of course not. Gosh, I can’t imagine anything my children would hate more than having to sit still and listen to me. (Laughter.) I mean, they’ve never done it so – (laughter) – if they ever did it they wouldn’t enjoy it.

MS. DICKINSON: How would they know?

MR. SAGAL: Exactly. Wow, well, it must be fun.

MS. EDWARDS: And they’re perplexed by the fact that anyone would applaud their father. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: That, yeah. Well, Elizabeth Edwards, we’re delighted to have you with us and we have, in fact, invited you here to play a game we’re calling –

MR. KASELL: You’re rich, Famous, and Hoovering the Entire Output of the Cali Cartel Up Your Surgically Altered Nose.



MR. SAGAL: This week, actress Lindsay Lohan – (laughter) – became the latest celebutante to check into rehab. And just in time for that, this month’s issue of Blender magazine gave us a rundown of all the places the upper crust go to get clean. We’re going to ask you three questions about the treatment centers of the rich and famous. Answer two of these questions right, you’ll win our price. Carl, who is Elizabeth Edwards playing for?

MR. KASELL: Peter, she is playing for Scott Lonaconus of Thompsonville, Michigan.

MR. SAGAL: All right, ready to play, Mrs. Edwards?

MS. EDWARDS: I’m ready.

MR. SAGAL: All right. First we take you to the famous Promises Center in Malibu where Lindsay Lohan will be heading soon to pay $49,000 a month to sober up. Among the things –

MS. EDWARDS: That haircut’s looking cheap. (Laughter, applause.)

MR. SAGAL: Isn’t it though? Who knew what a bargain it was? (Laughter, applause.) Among the things that Promises offers is what kind of therapy: A, equine therapy, described by the admissions counselor as, quote, “therapy in the presence of a horse” – (laughter) – B, what they call daily’s therapy in which the celebrity is shown film of what they looked like the day they entered the treatment facility – (laughter) – or C, aura massage therapy, in which new age specialists color correct the patient’s energy field. (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: I sure would like to do Scott justice on this, but it can’t be the horse, right?

MR. SAGAL: Well, I mean –

MS. EDWARDS: I mean, it can’t be the horse.

MR. SAGAL: So you think it’s not the horse, okay.

MS. EDWARDS: Yeah. It seems to the most effective would be to show them what they looked like, but that just seems too obvious. And it is Malibu – (laughter) – so I’m kind of thinking that it must be number three. It must be that aura –

MR. SAGAL: You think people are paying $49,000 a month to have somebody massage their auras? (Laughter.)


MR. SAGAL: All right, that’s your choice: aura massage therapy?

MS. EDWARDS: I don’t know. Yeah, I – sure.

MR. SAGAL: Sure. Yes.

MS. EDWARDS: Let’s do aura massage therapy.

MR. SAGAL: No, it was the horse.



MR. SAGAL: It was the equine – (laughter) – equine therapy. They ride horses or do something with horses and it makes them feel better. (Laughter.) I don’t know how. Patients, guests there also enjoy yoga, acupuncture, gourmet food.

MS. EDWARDS: Now, I would have gone for the yoga and acupuncture, but the horses.

MR. SAGAL: Horses was just too much.

MS. EDWARDS: I apologize to Scott.

MR. SAGAL: All right, you have two more chances here, two more chances here.

MR. O’ROURKE: I’ve actually ridden a horse drunk. (Laughter).

MS. EDWARDS: Why doesn’t that surprise us?

MR. SAGAL: I was about to say –

MR. O’ROURKE: It’s just one of those Republican things that you do, you know? (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: And then I want to invite you to mule days in Benson where that’s –

MR. O’ROURKE: There you go, yeah. Yeah, you’re not getting me on one of those sober, I’ll tell you. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: All right, you have two more chances here. We have faith. We’re moving off now to Antigua’s Crossroads Center, founded by none other than Eric Clapton. And despite costing $19,500 a month – relative bargain – offering hot tubs, again, acupuncture, yoga, gourmet food, they say they are tough on their clients. They force their guests to do what? A, they’re only allowed to drink tap water, no matter how much they complain; B, they have to make their own bed; or C, they cannot take calls from their agents, publicists, or stylists?

MS. EDWARDS: Hmm. Logic does not seem to be serving me very well here. So let’s see, the tap water seems a little silly, but so did the horse. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: Well, I guess you just have to ask, if you were trying to sober up, trying to break the addiction, what would be most useful? Does that help at all?

MS. EDWARDS: I think not getting the calls would be the most useful. So I’m going to go with logic again and I would say not getting the calls.

MR. SAGAL: You’re going to go with logic again, not getting the calls from your publicists, agent, or stylist.

MS. EDWARDS: Or stylist.

MS. EDWARDS: That tone is not – (laughter).

MR. : You’re tipping your pitch here, Peter.

MS. EDWARDS: (Inaudible, cross talk.)

MR. SAGAL: Well, you know –

MS. EDWARDS: So I’m thinking that can’t be it now. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: Well, the choices are not being allowed to drink bottled water, tap water only; having to make your own bed; or you can’t take calls from your agents, publicists or stylists.

MS. EDWARDS: Now, I’ve eliminated the third one because you were clearly unhappy with that choice. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: I was still stinging about your comments about my hair, really. No, that’s fine. That’s fine. So, of the other two then?

MS. EDWARDS: Okay, so they’re making their own – how about making their own beds?

MR. SAGAL: Making their own beds?

MS. EDWARDS: If it’s good enough for my children, it’s good enough for them.

MR. SAGAL: Very good, that’s the answer, yes. (Applause.) They have to make their own bed. This is not as harsh – as harsh as it sounds. (Laughter.) As the slightly more downscale Impact Center in Pasadena, California, where people like Leif Garrett have had to scrub their own toilets. (Laughter.)

MS. DICKINSON: Just Leif Garrett – oh, that takes me back.

MS. EDWARDS: Yes, it does, doesn’t it?


MR. SAGAL: All right, now, you’re one for two with one to go. You get this, you will win it all. We take you now to what Blender magazine describes as the Rehab of Last Resort – (laughter) – the place you go where everything has failed. It is what? A, Thamkrabok Monastery in Thailand, where Buddhist monks force patients to drink an herbal medicine which induces projectile vomiting – (laughter) – B, Rough Rider Hunters Camp and Sobriety Center in Darby, Montana, where you have to stay sober because you won’t eat if you can’t shoot straight – (laughter) – or C, the Center of Higher Consciousness in Miami, Florida, where Jackie Stallone, Sly’s mother and a well known psychic, lectures you every day for six hours about the right way of living. (Laughter.)

MR. O’ROURKE: Ooh. Scared straight.

MS. EDWARDS: I have to say, that last one sounds like the place of last resort, but – (laughter) –

MR. SAGAL: You think so. You know you’ve hit bottom where you’re throwing yourself upon the mercy of Jackie Stallone.

MS. EDWARDS: For six straight hours, yeah. I’d like to do Scott justice in this. So we have Thailand, which I’m thinking is not it.

MR. SAGAL: Thamkrabok Monastery in Thailand.

MS. EDWARDS: Yeah. Well, I’m trying to – having listened to this show for so many years, I’m trying to listen to your voice more than listen to the answers – (laughter) – to be perfectly frank.

MR. SAGAL: Oh, I’m not on your side, Mrs. Edwards, I think. (Laughter.) No, I am, I am actually, but I have to play the role of the neutral observer.

MS. EDWARDS: Yeah, I know. I just can’t see the handing a bunch of drunks guns. (Laughter.)

MR. O’ROURKE: Wait a minute.

MR. SAGAL: That’s the platform of the Republican Party right there, isn’t it?

MR. O’ROURKE: I have stayed perfectly non-partisan the entire – that was – I try to save my political venom for an after election year, I didn’t have to expend it in 2007. But when you’re talking about drunks with guns, cutting pretty close to the knuckle there. (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: Listen, I have my medals from my years taking riflery at military bases.

MR. O’ROURKE: I think it scares me in a wife. (Laughter.) My wife happens to be a pretty good shot, too, and I find that just terrifying. (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: So the place of last resort. I’ll go with the guns.

MR. SAGAL: You’re going to go with the guns? You’re going to go with the Rough Rider Hunters Camp and Sobriety Center in Darby, Montana? (Laughter.)

MS. EDWARDS: Okay, that was really not a good tone of voice. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: I’m all self-conscious now, or I’m more self-conscious now, to be more precise. But all right, so okay, well, you have to make a choice.

MS. EDWARDS: Okay, so I didn’t like the way you talked about Miami – (laughter) – and I didn’t like – so I’m back to the choice I eliminated first and so we’re back at the monastery in Thailand.

MR. SAGAL: You’re going to choose –

MS. EDWARDS: And that’ll be my – I’ll stick with that now.

MR. SAGAL: All right, the monastery in Thailand. You’re right. Congratulations. (Laughter, applause.) Guests sleep on steel beds, six to a room. They’re encouraged to go native, shave their heads, wear pink pajamas and plastic sandals, though foreigners are allowed a mosquito net, just to be slightly more comfortable.

MR. KASELL: Sounds like spring break in Kabul – (laughter) – including the projectile vomiting. (Laughter.)

MR. O’ROURKE: Not many of us came back much better for that.

MR. SAGAL: Carl, how did Elizabeth Edwards do on our quiz?

MR. KASELL: Peter, she read you better than anybody else out there. (Laughter.)

MR. SAGAL: Wow, I feel naked.

MS. EDWARDS: I’ve been listening for a very long time.

MR. KASELL: Well, Elizabeth Edwards, you had two correct answers, so you win our prize for Scott Lonaconus and congratulations.

MR. SAGAL: Well done. (Applause.) Congratulations, that’s well done. Elizabeth Edwards is an attorney, the author of the memoir “Saving Graces” – I’m sorry, I’ll say that again. Elizabeth Edwards is an attorney, the author of the memoir “Saving Graces,” and, of course, the wife of former senator and 2008 presidential candidate, John Edwards. Elizabeth Edwards, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck and be well.

MS. EDWARDS: Thank you so much. (Applause.)