Who's Bill This Time
BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. Is this heaven? No, it's Bill Kurtis.
KURTIS: And here is your host at the Des Moines Civic Center in Des Moines, Iowa, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
SAGAL: Thanks, everybody - so great to be back here in the absolute epicenter of American politics, the place where it happens, the Parthenon of modern democracy, Des Moines, Iowa, in January of an election year.
SAGAL: That is not slush on the sidewalks. That's freedom.
SAGAL: Later on, we're going to be talking to Olivia Nuzzi, a reporter who's famous for, among other things, being Rudy Giuliani's favorite person to butt-dial. But we want you to call us on purpose. The number to be carefully dialed is 1-888-WAIT-WAIT - that's 1-888-924-8924. It's time to welcome our first listener contestant.
Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
JEREMY BRIDGEMAN: Hello, Peter. This is Jeremy Bridgeman calling from Monroe, Conn.
SAGAL: Oh, OK. How are things in Monroe, Conn., Jeremy?
BRIDGEMAN: They're great. We've got a little snow cover, but that should all be melted away this weekend.
SAGAL: Yeah. And what do you do there?
BRIDGEMAN: I am a public relations consultant turned stay-at-home dad.
SAGAL: Oh, really? So you...
BRIDGEMAN: I am.
SAGAL: You did the thing of quitting your job to be home with your kids. How do you...
BRIDGEMAN: I did. I married an amazing woman with an amazing career, and it made the most sense for me to step away and stay home with the two small kids.
SAGAL: And good for you. And do you find...
SAGAL: That's great. Do you find that rewarding - or more so than your job?
BRIDGEMAN: More so, yes. Although I would say the clients are just as difficult.
SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Jeremy. Let me introduce you to our panel this week. First, it's a comedian and host of the podcast Fake the Nation. You can see her at the University of Iowa on February 22 because she just can't get enough of Iowa - Negin Farsad.
NEGIN FARSAD: Hello.
SAGAL: Next up, it's the author of The New York Times best-selling "Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving" and host of the Mobituaries podcast. It's Mo Rocca.
MO ROCCA: Hi, Jeremy.
SAGAL: And a comedian you can see in Northampton, Mass., at the John M. Green Hall at Smith College on March 14 - you can hear her anytime you want on her podcast Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone. It's Paula Poundstone.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Hey, Jeremy.
SAGAL: So, Jeremy, welcome to the show. You're, of course, going to play Who's Bill This Time. Bill Kurtis is going to read you three quotations from this week's news. Your job, of course - identify or explain just two of them. Do that, you'll win our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?
SAGAL: All right. Let's do it. Here is your first quote.
KURTIS: All persons are commanded to keep silence on pain of imprisonment.
SAGAL: That's how we began every day of the big trial which started this week. What's the trial?
BRIDGEMAN: The impeachment of our current president.
SAGAL: That's exactly right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Donald - the impeachment of Donald John Trump. The Democrats began presenting their case to the Senate with all the solemnity and seriousness of purpose the occasion demanded. And, of course, it won't make any difference at all. It's like the passengers on the Titanic arguing they should stay afloat.
SAGAL: But if it's really just going to be a show trial, why not make it a better show? How about some music? "Impeaching With The Stars" - Adam Schiff doing the bossa nova, Mitch McConnell in a revealing ball gown.
SAGAL: You know what? Let's not make it a show.
SAGAL: So it's actually - as I'm sure you've seen, it's just people talking endlessly. The days have lasted as many as 12 hours. And this is in front of an audience whose average age is so high, Senator Bernie Sanders is known as that whippersnapper.
SAGAL: And this is true - due to ancient Senate rules, the only refreshments that are allowed on the floor are water and milk.
SAGAL: Why milk, you might ask. Well, it's important their bones stay strong for when they fall asleep and slump to the floor.
ROCCA: And is that true, that it's only water and milk?
SAGAL: Water and milk are the only beverages. They're also allowed to have candy - the only food that's allowed...
POUNDSTONE: You have candy in a drawer.
SAGAL: Yeah. Imagine the sound of, like, 100 90-year-olds all unwrapping Jolly Ranchers.
FARSAD: Oh, it's so tough to watch. Like, I - you know, I figured out that Adam Schiff is, like, the Greta Thunberg of impeachment trials...
FARSAD: ...Because he just keeps telling a bunch of truth, so nobody's listening. And I'm pretty sure he has a ponytail in the back.
ROCCA: Can I just get back to the milk for a minute?
ROCCA: I hope they're not warming the milk because warm milk is - puts you to sleep.
SAGAL: Yes. Well, I mean, that's - people have pointed this out, that milk is not known as, so we say, a stimulant.
POUNDSTONE: Ask any calf.
SAGAL: The milk thing dates back to the early days of the government, when there was always a cow on the Senate floor.
SAGAL: That was the refreshment station.
POUNDSTONE: You know what I thought was respectful, though, yesterday? - was during - you know, they're supposed to stay seated, but some of the senators - when they went to suckle, they went into...
POUNDSTONE: ...The cloakroom.
ROCCA: You could spike the milk, but that would make it a white Russian, which is how we got into this mess in the first place.
SAGAL: All right. Your next quote is from veteran political strategist David Axelrod.
KURTIS: If I had to choose just one newspaper, it would be The New York Times and The Washington Post.
SAGAL: Axelrod was apparently a little miffed that in their much-anticipated endorsement of one candidate among the many running for the Democratic nomination, the New York Times endorsed who?
BRIDGEMAN: They endorsed Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.
SAGAL: Yes, exactly. They endorsed two different people.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Forced to choose between a leftist who promises radical change, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, a centrist who eats with a comb...
SAGAL: The New York Times went with both.
ROCCA: I think it was kind of exciting. It's like when Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn tied for the Oscar.
FARSAD: Yeah. Or...
SAGAL: It's exactly like that.
FARSAD: Or it's like...
ROCCA: It's like Gilligan choosing Ginger and Mary Ann.
SAGAL: Exactly right.
SAGAL: Betty and Veronica - you can't - your job is to choose one.
POUNDSTONE: Maybe they're...
FARSAD: This is, like, (unintelligible) recognition in this whole thing. It's just exactly how I recommend restaurants, you know? I just - I'm, like, well, if you want a fancy French, you go to Lafayette, but if you want, like, workaday Italian, you go to Frankie's. You know, like, I...
SAGAL: ...Give people options. We expect more of this new wishy-washy journalism from the Times. Paul Krugman's devastating column, big banks - good thing or bad thing? I don't know.
SAGAL: The crossword - 32 across - whatever works for you. We're good.
SAGAL: All right, Jeremy. Here is your very last quote.
KURTIS: Does anyone else do this? Is it just me?
SAGAL: That was a man named Alex Christofi, who became this week's most hated man on the Internet after he said he does what to books to make them more portable?
BRIDGEMAN: Oh, he murders them by cutting them in half.
SAGAL: That's exactly right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: He's a book murderer.
SAGAL: First of all, to Mr. Christofi, who does this and wondered if it was just you, yes, it is just you.
SAGAL: His tweet included a picture of these big books like "Crime And Punishment" and "Infinite Jest" sliced in half down their spines, which, when you put it that way, sounds bad.
SAGAL: Old-fashioned, traditional book readers were appalled, calling this, quote, "terrorism" and saying, I hate everything about this. Younger people saw this and all got electric shocks when they started sawing through their Kindles.
POUNDSTONE: At first, when you told me that the man sawed through his book in half, I thought you meant...
POUNDSTONE: ...He cut off the top half of it so it read like the Mueller report.
SAGAL: What's he not saying?
FARSAD: I would love to know what this guy's solutions are for other parts of life because, like, it's, like, books are heavy to lug around, so you cut them in half. My baby is getting really heavy.
SAGAL: I don't think you want this guy's solution. I mean, when you think about it, a lot of books might even be better chopped in half. Imagine "War And Peace" without the boring peace part...
SAGAL: "...A Tale Of One City..."
SAGAL: ...Herman Melville's epic, "Dick."
SAGAL: Bill, how did Jeremy do on our quiz?
KURTIS: How did he know the answers to these - all these questions? You did very well, Jeremy - 3 and 0.
BRIDGEMAN: Thank you. Thank you.
SAGAL: Thank you. Bye-bye.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.