Bluff The Listener
Friday, May 16, 2014
Our panelists tell three stories about a politician trying to avoid a scandal by issuing a statement.
CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME! the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Roxanne Roberts, Mo Rocca and Paula Poundstone. And here again is your host at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Carl. Right now, it is 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!
CASEY HARRIS: Hi, this is Casey Harris (ph), and I'm from Denver, Colo.
SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Denver?
HARRIS: Yep. Actually calling from Palo Alto, Calif., though.
SAGAL: You're just trying to confuse me. What are you doing? Why are you traveling around - is someone looking for you?
MO ROCCA: She's on the lam.
SAGAL: If you're fleeing the authorities, don't say where you're calling from.
SAGAL: Casey, we are delighted to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Casey's topic?
KASELL: I Am Not A Crook.
SAGAL: As every politician knows, getting ahead of a scandal by releasing an official statement denying all charges is the best way to really screw it up. This week, we read a story about a politician trying to avoid a career-ending fiasco by issuing such a strong statement. Guess the true story, you will win Carl's voice on your home voicemail. You ready to play?
SAGAL: First, let's hear from Mo Rocca.
ROCCA: Florida Democrat Joe Garcia was caught on video by C-SPAN picking his ear, then putting his finger in his mouth and eating it.
ROCCA: I know, gross. To be fair, it was a congressional hearing.
ROCCA: And Garcia is known for his earmarks.
ROCCA: And let's face it, it would've been a lot worse if he'd been picking his nose. Before his career goes down the eustachian tubes, Garcia released this statement: "I scratched my ear and noticed I had a hangnail. My mom always told me to keep my fingers out of my mouth, and now I know why," end quote. The biggest shocker? The guy picking his ear and eating it wasn't Congressman Henry Waxman.
SAGAL: The congressman denies dining on his own earwax on C-SPAN. Your next story of a political scandal not involving Kerry Washington comes from Roxanne Roberts.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: For months, Idaho statesman reporters badgered Democratic congressional candidate Dwayne Peterson about the contents of a storage locker outside of Boise. And for months, the former county prosecutor refused to comment. Guns? Drugs? A body? The rumors got so bad that Peterson finally called a press conference last week, when he revealed the locker contained every single episode of the soap opera "All My Children."
ROBERTS: Every hour since the show debuted in 1970 until the final goodbye in 2011, all lovingly preserved on thousands of VHS tapes.
ROBERTS: What can I say? I fell in love with Pine Valley, he told reporters. Turns out he got hooked during his junior year in high school, when he stayed home for two months with a bad case of mono. He began taping the show every day and didn't stop for 40 years.
ROBERTS: Quote, "After a brutal day of law school accord, I found Erica Kane and her fake drama very relaxing." Peterson...
ROBERTS: Peterson said he thought discussing his secret hobby would be a distraction from his platform of guns, guns and more guns.
SAGAL: An Idaho politician...
SAGAL: ...Denies that there's anything more scandalous in his storage locker than the collected episodes of a soap opera. Your last story of a politician in hot water comes from Paula Poundstone.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: The journalists at U.S. Congressman Al Boyne's recent press conference were few but lucky. It seems that two years of fundraising earned the students at Goldenview Middle School in San Bernardino, Calif., a class trip of a lifetime to Washington, D.C., where they struck it rich by snagging a tour of the nation's capital from their own U.S. congressman, Al Boyne.
I never claimed to know all of the facts about the sites I showed the students, defended Boyne. What I wanted to do was give them a sense of what America is all about. Does it really matter that Martha Washington didn't design the Washington Monument?
POUNDSTONE: The important thing is that girls know they can marry a great man, and they could build a monument to them if they want.
POUNDSTONE: And that the government doesn't have to to pay for everything. I have daughters. That's what I want for them. Is it true you told the students that Abraham Lincoln is buried beneath the Lincoln Monument? asked Max Waylon (ph) of the San Bernardino Gazette. Do you know that he isn't? snapped Boyne.
POUNDSTONE: The congressman went on to explain that although the students missed an opportunity to observe a session of the Supreme Court because Boyne got them lost, he was proud to get lost in our nation's capital. It just goes to reinforce the fact that I am not a Washington insider.
POUNDSTONE: And besides, I told them if the city hadn't been designed by a French guy, we wouldn't be in this mess.
SAGAL: So here are your choices. One of these was a politician issuing a strong defense. Was it from Mo Rocca, a congressman saying no, he did not - even though it appeared he did - eat his own earwax on C-SPAN; from Roxanne Roberts, a politician saying that all he kept in his storage locker was just every single episode of a 40-year-long run of a soap opera; or from Paula Poundstone, a politician - a congressman defending, with pride, his ignorance of everything about Washington, D.C.? Which of these was the real denial in the news?
HARRIS: I think I'm going to have to go with the congressman picking his ear and eating it, unfortunately.
SAGAL: You think?
SAGAL: It's a little distasteful, but you're going to pick that one, as it were.
HARRIS: Yes - picking it. Yes.
SAGAL: You're picking that one. Well, we spoke to a journalist who was absolutely on top of this breaking scandal.
RACHEL STOLTZFOOS: Congressman Joe Garcia is seen picking something out of his ear, studying it, and then putting it in his mouth. And it's gross.
SAGAL: That was Rachel Stoltzfoos. She's a reporter for the Daily Caller. Congratulations, Casey. You got it right. He was talking about the congressman.
HARRIS: Thank you.
SAGAL: We want to say, we watched this carefully; carefully, we watched this video. And we feel that he has a case to make that there were two unrelated acts - the picking of the ear, and the placing of the finger in the mouth, could have been, indeed, unrelated acts. I think it really depends upon what the meaning of pick is.
SAGAL: Nonetheless, you've earned a point for Mo Rocca. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your voicemail. Well done.
HARRIS: All right. Thank you.
SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing, Casey.
HARRIS: Thank you.
(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.View this story on npr.org