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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. Hey there, Georgia. I'll take a bite of your juicy peach.


KURTIS: I'm Bill Kurtis.


KURTIS: And here is your host at the Johnny Mercer Theatre in Savannah, Ga., Peter Sagal.


Thank you, everybody. Thank you, Savannah.


SAGAL: Thank you. It is such a pleasure to be making our debut in Savannah. Of course, it's the city famous for, among other things, being the setting of the book and film "Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil." Now this is, of course, a public radio crowd. We're not as young as we once were. So for us, it's going to be more like 9 p.m. in the Garden of Good and Evil.


SAGAL: But first, this last week, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams delivered the Democratic response to the State of the Union, and it seems it didn't go well. And I'm saying this because, apparently, the only talk show she could get booked on after it was this one.


SAGAL: Ms. Abrams will be joining us later to play Not My Job. But first, it's your turn. Give us a call and play our games. 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.

HEATHER MIDFIELD: Hello, Savannah, Ga. This is Heather Midfield (ph) from Austin, Texas.

SAGAL: Hey there, Heather. It's good to hear from you. What do you do there in Austin?

MIDFIELD: I work for a private (ph) company, also known as a paperwork factory.

SAGAL: I understand.

MIDFIELD: I also play competitive women's kickball in the summertime.

SAGAL: Of course you do.


SAGAL: Everybody in Austin is obligated by city ordinance...

MO ROCCA: Mandatory.

SAGAL: ...To have a weird hobby.


SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Heather. Let me introduce you to our panel this week. First up is a writer and performer who you last saw as Mike Pence on "The President Show." It's Peter Grosz.


MIDFIELD: Hi, Peter.

GROSZ: How are you?


SAGAL: Next, it's a feature writer for the Style section of The Washington Post. It's Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Hello, Heather.

MIDFIELD: Hi, Roxanne.


SAGAL: And finally, a correspondent for "CBS Sunday Morning" and host of the new podcast Mobituaries, available wherever you get your podcasts, it's Mo Rocca.



SAGAL: Heather, you're going to play Who's Bill This Time. Bill Kurtis is going to read you three quotations from the week's news. You know this. Your job - correctly identify or explain just two of them. Do that, you'll win our prize - the voice of anyone you might choose from our show on your voicemail. You ready to play?

MIDFIELD: I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right, your first quote is a bit of poetry we all heard on Tuesday night.

KURTIS: If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.


SAGAL: That was just one of the verses dropped by master MC Donald Trump...


SAGAL: ...During what speech?

MIDFIELD: The State of the Union address.

SAGAL: The State of the Union, Heather, yes.


SAGAL: I know. It happened this week. It seems crazy. All that hype and the delay, and in the end, it was so boring and disappointing - the State of the Union - that you half-expected Adam Levine to come out in the middle and take his shirt off.


GROSZ: That would've been a vast improvement.

SAGAL: The speech did make history. Somebody analyzed it and found all the words that had never before been said in a State of the Union address in all our history. For example, and this is real, bloodthirsty, chilling, fentanyl, heartache, freeloading, sadistic, venomous and kissing.


SAGAL: All true. Weird he said all those things, but President Trump still hasn't said Tiffany, though. I don't know.


ROCCA: Poor Tiffany. Poor Tiffany.

GROSZ: She was there.

SAGAL: She was there.

GROSZ: She was there. She was behind, you know, one of the distinguished guests in the box. And I literally was like, oh, right, Tiffany, which I think is the same reaction that he had.


SAGAL: And for all the, you know, challenges and vitriol, there were some bipartisan moments. For example, many of the Democrats wore white, and all of the Republicans were white.


ROBERTS: To be fair, Peter, they did wear different colored ties.

SAGAL: That's - the Republicans did. It was a rainbow of Caucasians. It was amazing.


GROSZ: I was wondering, like, why is he making this rhyme? It's, like, very Dr. Seussian - like, elementary school rhyme. And then I thought, like, oh, I bet this is how his advisers explain things to him.


GROSZ: And he was like, those rhymes - I always get it when they make the rhymes.


SAGAL: All right, your next quote is from a woman named Shalewa Sharpe. It's on Twitter.

KURTIS: When we said more black faces in government, we should have been more specific.


SAGAL: Ms. Sharpe was commenting on the growing scandal that will apparently end the career of every politician in what state?

MIDFIELD: Virginia.

SAGAL: Yes, Virginia.


SAGAL: What the hell is happening in Virginia?

ROCCA: Oh, my.

SAGAL: It turns out that female members of Congress are not the only group of Democrats that dress alike.


SAGAL: So it began with Governor Ralph Northam. He was elected over a guy who was running on an explicitly racist platform. But it turns out, before you vote, you got to check under the hood.


SAGAL: So somebody found this photograph from the governor's medical school yearbook, and it's a picture of a guy in blackface next to a guy in a Klan outfit. And the governor immediately apologized, even though he said that he did not remember which one was him.

ROCCA: Right.


SAGAL: He can't remember. He must have gotten blackface drunk.


GROSZ: Isn't there a Jeff Foxworthy joke where it's like, if you can't remember if you're the guy under the hood or the guy...

SAGAL: Yeah.

GROSZ: ...Wearing blackface, you might be a racist.

SAGAL: Exactly.


ROBERTS: I found this astounding for so many reasons. First of all, I was shocked that medical schools had yearbooks.


ROBERTS: I mean, who's got the time, right? And then, I was also stunned - the press conference - the disastrous press conference he had the next day where he said, you know, it's really hard to get shoe polish off your skin.

SAGAL: Oh, God. So the press conference - he comes on and says, by the way...

ROCCA: Oh, my God.

SAGAL: He says, I was wrong. It wasn't me in those photos. I was wrong. But he says, I did put shoe polish on my face to impersonate Michael Jackson at a dance contest. And somebody says, can you still moonwalk? And he says, I would, but my wife just told me it's not the right moment.



SAGAL: All right, but that - he's the governor. This is the governor.

ROCCA: Can I just say Florida must be sighing relief right now?


SAGAL: So the Democratic lieutenant governor, who would take over if Northam resigns - in the middle of the night, he says, I just want you all to know that the sexual assault accusation against me is totally bogus. And everybody's like, what sexual assault accusation?


SAGAL: And he's like, this one. Everybody talk about it for a week. And then - we're not done - the attorney general said, yeah, I did blackface, too. And a prominent Republican says, I edited a yearbook filled with racist photos. And so seriously, at this point, Virginia is changing its name to East West Virginia.


SAGAL: So, Heather, your last quote is from a critique of a new play that the author hopes to debut in New York City soon.

KURTIS: It was long-winded and meandering. Thankfully, none of it was rapped.

SAGAL: So that was The New Yorker talking about a play that was written just because the play's author hates what so much?

MIDFIELD: "Hamilton."

SAGAL: Yes, "Hamilton."


SAGAL: Very good.


SAGAL: Now, I know you're shocked. You may have thought it was actually illegal to dislike "Hamilton." And while you're not right, you should be.


SAGAL: A writer named Ishmael Reed really hates the musical "Hamilton" because he says that by making Hamilton himself a cool hip-hop, verse-dropping immigrant hero, it covers up Hamilton's real life as a slave owner and generally bad guy.

So Ishmael Reed wrote a play called "The Haunting Of Lin-Manuel Miranda," in which the author of "Hamilton," played by an actor - you know, that's the most beloved musical of modern times - is - he's visited by ghosts of people from history telling him how wrong he is.


SAGAL: That's the play. In the end, of course, we guess he'd be visited by a Ghost of Lin-Manuel Future who says, don't worry about all this, I am so rich.


GROSZ: Is it being produced, or it's just...

SAGAL: No. He - they did a reading, which The New Yorker attended. They're hoping for backing so they can produce this play to appeal to the vast...

GROSZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...Potential audience of people who hate "Hamilton."

GROSZ: I wonder if his other play is, like, Puppies Suck.


ROCCA: Well, I loved his Maria von Trapp is a [expletive].


SAGAL: Or his great earlier musical from the '70s, Get Down From There, Fiddler.


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

KURTIS: Well, first of all, she's a great sport. And, Heather, how did you know that all those answers were right? You're a winner.

SAGAL: Congratulations, Heather.

MIDFIELD: Thanks, y'all.


GROSZ: Bye, Heather.

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

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