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Who's Bill This Time

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. Count me; I'm your provisional billet (ph). I'm Bill Kurtis. And here's your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill. Thank you, everybody. Thank you so much.


SAGAL: I'm really glad to see you, too. We have a very fine show for you today. Later on, we're going to be talking to singer Sarah Brightman, the most famous soprano in the world who didn't have anybody whacked. A quick note - obviously we're going to be talking about the midterm elections, but we cannot talk about what happened in Florida because as of showtime, they have no idea who won.


SAGAL: Can you believe it? We are going to have another recount in Florida.


SAGAL: If we're going to be 2000 again, can I at least have my hair back?


SAGAL: We will offer you a decisive verdict, win or lose, when you play our game, so give us a call. The number is 1-888-WAITWAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Let's welcome our first listener contestant. Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

REBECCA READER: Hello, this is Rebecca Reader.

SAGAL: Hey, Rebecca, where you calling from?

READER: Columbus, Ohio.

SAGAL: Oh, we love Columbus. We were just there last year. What's up there?

READER: Well, I work at the library, you know...


LUKE BURBANK: Is that why you're being so quiet, Rebecca?


READER: It is.

SAGAL: Yeah. Well, Rebecca, welcome to our show. Let me introduce you to our panel this week. First up, it's a features writer for the Style section of The Washington Post. It's Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Hello, Rebecca.

READER: Hello, Roxanne.


SAGAL: Next, it's the host of the public radio variety show Live Wire and the podcast Too Beautiful to Live. It's Luke Burbank.

BURBANK: Hey, Rebecca.


SAGAL: And it's a comedian doing her regular gig New Year's Eve at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco. And her new podcast is Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone. It's Paula Poundstone.

POUNDSTONE: Hey, Rebecca.


SAGAL: So, Rebecca, welcome to our show. You're going to start us off of course with Who's Bill This Time. Bill Kurtis is going to read for you three quotations from this week's news. If you can correctly identify or explain just two of them, you'll win our prize, any voice from our show that you might choose on your voicemail. Are you ready to go?

READER: I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right, here's your first quote. It's someone saying what big lesson he learned from Tuesday's midterms.

KURTIS: I think people like me.

SAGAL: Who took that message away from the results on Tuesday?

READER: I'm just going to have to say it might be Donald J. Trump.

SAGAL: You're right...


SAGAL: ...Donald J. Trump.


SAGAL: America sent a stunning rebuke to President Trump this week. OK, it wasn't a stunning rebuke because a bunch of his candidates won. Basically the GOP kept the Senate, but the Dems swept the congressional elections, which means that things from here on out are just going to get worse. It's like our government just got divorced and Democrats got the House.


SAGAL: And they're telling us, America, sweetie, mommy and daddy - we're going to be splitting up, and it is totally your fault.


BURBANK: I don't want to go to the Senate this weekend. They smoke cigarettes and use bad words.

SAGAL: Exactly.


SAGAL: As for Democrats, they did well, but they're all still sad because their dreamboat candidate, Beto O'Rourke, lost in Texas. Though he may have been beaten by Ted Cruz, at least voters confirmed once and for all politics is not a beauty contest.


BURBANK: He's so dreamy.

SAGAL: He is very dreamy.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, he is.

SAGAL: Here's the thing, though, and I noticed it this week. When Republicans win, they say, we won, and the Democrats say, yeah, you won. When Democrats win, the Republicans say, we won again, and Democrats say, oh, my God, maybe you did. And they feel bad.


SAGAL: And they sit around and they, like, journal things like, what is victory? I don't know.


POUNDSTONE: You know, years ago, when Clinton won his first presidency...

SAGAL: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: ...I was at the hotel in downtown LA that the Democrats had the party at. And so, you know, I was watching the TV, and the returns come in. It's like, Clinton won. And I swear; I've never seen a more inept group of partiers in my life. They had no experience in winning. They had absolutely no idea what to do. They were like, oh. That was it.


BURBANK: I'm starting to wonder if it's the greatest system where you basically vote people out of office and then you just let them stay in power for two months and hope they don't burn everything down. Like, if you get fired from a Quizno's, that's your last day.

SAGAL: Right.


BURBANK: 'Cause they don't want you to steal lunch meat.

SAGAL: Yeah.

BURBANK: And in this case, the lunch meat is democracy.

SAGAL: I know. Rebecca, here's your next quote. It's from someone reacting to the big news on Wednesday.

KURTIS: Acosta - I hardly knew her.

SAGAL: That was journalist Shuja Haider responding to news that CNN's correspondent Jim Acosta had been banned from where?

READER: White House press corps.

SAGAL: The White House, yes.


SAGAL: He's a White House correspondent. He can no longer get into the White House. On Wednesday, the White House took away Jim Acosta's press credentials saying that he had assaulted a White House intern even though everybody was watching on live TV and saw no such thing. But that just shows how skilled an assassin Jim Acosta is.


SAGAL: This happened - this bizarre thing that the White House decided to lie about happened after Acosta annoyed the president with his questions at this incredibly bizarre postelection press conference. And the president got mad and said to Acosta, quote, "you are a rude, terrible person," unquote, which is like the pot calling the kettle black and then because it's black not allowing it to vote.


BURBANK: That's a concern.

SAGAL: It really is.

ROBERTS: What - but you have not...

SAGAL: Please, Roxanne, fill it in.

ROBERTS: The doctored video. So all the experts - so the White House releases the video saying that we will not tolerate a reporter, you know, manhandling, assaulting our intern. And all the experts agree that they doctored the video.

SAGAL: Yeah, well, it's insane that they're lying about this thing.

ROBERTS: That was on live TV.

SAGAL: Yeah, and they're saying, well, look at the tape. I mean, it's like the Zapruder tape, but that's only if Zapruder had Photoshopped Hillary Clinton shooting from behind the grassy knoll. That's the equivalent.

BURBANK: I think what it really comes down to is, what was the call on the field? Was it a catch?

SAGAL: (Laughter) Yeah, I know.

BURBANK: Because...

SAGAL: Because there has to be enough evidence.

BURBANK: ...You have to basically be able to overturn it. And at this point...

SAGAL: Yeah, I know.

BURBANK: ...I just think unfortunately that's the call they made.

SAGAL: We should say that they had this press conference because the president, as is traditional after a loss like that, wanted to mock all the Republicans who he said lost because they distanced themselves from him or, as he put it, quote, "didn't want the embrace," quote.

BURBANK: Not weird at all.

SAGAL: That's how he put it, which is not only true of those now-former Congress members, but it's also true of Ivanka, Melania and a bust of Betsy Ross in the Blue Room.


POUNDSTONE: Oh, come on. He's been with that bust.


POUNDSTONE: There's no way on earth that guy isn't alone at night with those statues.



SAGAL: Rebecca, here is your last quote.

READER: All right, hit me.

KURTIS: Where the hell is Space Force when you need it most?

SAGAL: That was the reaction on Twitter to the announcement from two Harvard astronomers saying that last year, our solar system might have been visited by what?

READER: Aliens.

SAGAL: Yes, aliens.



SAGAL: Specifically an alien spaceship. The strange object came through the solar system last year. It was called Oumuamua. And it entered the solar system going too fast and at this very strange angle. And it rotated in a weird way. And it looked like nothing we've ever seen before, sort of long and thin, like God's own cigar. So two astronomers at Harvard suggested it might be, in fact, an alien ship. To add to the evidence for this theory, the thing came to our planet, took a look around and got the hell out as fast as it could...


SAGAL: ...Clearly intelligent life.

POUNDSTONE: Peter, how do you know - if it's a thing that came from another planet, how does anybody know its name?

SAGAL: Well, they called it...


SAGAL: Well, we named it.

POUNDSTONE: Oh. Well, who would name - it's a probe. Who would name that Oumuamua? Who...

ROBERTS: Because it's a Hawaiian term.

SAGAL: It's a Hawaiian term.

POUNDSTONE: Well, that doesn't explain it.

ROBERTS: No, I think it...


POUNDSTONE: Let's not keep laying blame on the Hawaiians.

SAGAL: This thing was spotted last year, and people said, well, it's a comet. But it didn't act like a comet. Its trajectory around the sun and out of the solar system was really weird. And these two Harvard astronomers analyzed the data, and they said, we don't think a natural object would move that way. We think it was a kind of spaceship. Specifically, they thought that it was a lightsail ship, which is a kind of space sailboat that uses the light from the sun to propel it.

POUNDSTONE: So a light...

BURBANK: They did hear Jimmy Buffett music playing....


BURBANK: ...As it rounded the Earth. And that was...

SAGAL: Yeah.

BURBANK: ...Also - "Cheeseburger In Paradise."

SAGAL: Plus...

BURBANK: That's a dead giveaway.

SAGAL: The Arecibo telescope was able to see a very rich doctor sitting on it, complaining...


SAGAL: ...About how much it costs to keep up, so clearly a sailboat.

BURBANK: Yeah. You know, best two days of your life as an alien probe...

SAGAL: It really is.

BURBANK: ...The day you buy it and the day you sell it.

SAGAL: It's true. Yeah.


SAGAL: Bill, how did Rebecca do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Rebecca, put a banner up in the library...

POUNDSTONE: There you go.

KURTIS: You got them all right.

SAGAL: Congratulations, Rebecca.


SAGAL: Thanks so much for playing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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