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Who's Carl This Time?

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell, and here's your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Oh, good to be back with you. Oh, thank you. It is going to be a great show for you today. We've got "The Dude" himself, actor Jeff Bridges coming in to play our game later. But first, it just so happens that this month marks the 15th anniversary of our show. We premiered in January of 1998.


SAGAL: We're very happy. Thank you. Now, those early shows back then, 15 years ago, immediately struck a chord with listeners. What you're about to hear are some actual comments that were sent in from those early listeners.

KASELL: Listening to WAIT WAIT last Saturday actually caused me to feel depressed all day.


SAGAL: Here's another real comment.

KASELL: I'm certain the builders of the Titanic were proud to launch what they thought was a great ship.


KASELL: But even they had to admit something was wrong after it sank.


SAGAL: And the last one is probably our favorite that we got back then.

KASELL: The premier of WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! was the worst piece of radio I have ever heard, period.


SAGAL: But I want you to keep in mind, that listener hadn't yet heard today's show.


SAGAL: So let's get things started. Give us a call; the number is 1-888-Wait-Wait, that's 1-888-924-8924. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!.

MADELINE MACKIE: Hi, this is Madeline Mackie and I'm calling from Laramie, Wyoming.

SAGAL: Hey, Laramie, Wyoming, a beautiful place.

MACKIE: Yes, it is. It's gorgeous.

SAGAL: What do you do there?

MACKIE: I am in grad school, studying to be an archeologist.

SAGAL: An archeologist?


SAGAL: So you're, like, going around and digging up ancient creatures there in the plains of Wyoming?

MACKIE: Something like that.

SAGAL: If you dig down in Wyoming, what do you find?

MACKIE: There's a lot of Native Americans and ancient buffalo and cool stuff.


SAGAL: Well, Madeline, let me introduce you to our panel this week. First, say hello to a columnist and editor for the Houston Chronicle, Ms. Kyrie O'Connor.


KYRIE O'CONNOR: Hi, Madeline.

MACKIE: Hi, nice to meet you.

SAGAL: Next, a writer for "Real Time with Bill Maher," Mr. Adam Felber is here.


ADAM FELBER: Charmed, Madeline.

MACKIE: Nice to meet you.

SAGAL: And lastly, it's a comedian performing at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas January 25th and 26th, Paula Poundstone.




SAGAL: Now, Madeline, you're going to play Who's Carl This Time. Of course, Carl Kasell will start us off for the year with three quotations from the week's news. If you can correctly identify or explain just two of them, you'll win our prize, Carl's voice on your voicemail. Are you ready to go?

MACKIE: Yep, I'm ready.

SAGAL: Let us do this thing. Here's your first quote.

KASELL: What if the treasury secretary gets thirsty on the way to stash it in the Federal Reserve and he deposits the wrong coin in the soda machine?

SAGAL: That was a writer from Wired magazine, worried about what new denomination of U.S. currency that everybody was talking about this week?

MACKIE: The trillion-dollar coin.

SAGAL: The trillion-dollar coin.


SAGAL: Yes, of course.


SAGAL: The Republicans are saying they will not raise the debt ceiling in a couple of months, unless they get huge budget cuts in return. And if they don't raise the ceiling, the country will default on its debt, and we will get evicted from North America and have to move back in with Britain.


FELBER: Five hundred billion.

POUNDSTONE: I don't understand. You know, and maybe this doesn't bode well for my chances of winning today, but this is the first I've heard of the trillion-dollar coin.


SAGAL: Well, let me explain.


SAGAL: As it turns out, there's an obscure law that gives the treasury secretary the power to mint commemorative platinum coins in any denomination he wants. So, the idea goes, why not make one platinum coin worth $1 trillion. You put it in the bank and instantly, you've got $1 trillion in your account to pay your bills with.

POUNDSTONE: Who came up with the idea?

SAGAL: This is...

POUNDSTONE: Because if it wasn't my son, I'm blown away.


SAGAL: You know what's so weird about this is that it reminds everybody that a lot of money doesn't have to look like what we think a lot of money looks like, right?

POUNDSTONE: Yeah. It is going to screw up those crime series shows on television, where they have like the kidnapper and the government marks the money and they open the briefcase and it's got all this stacks.

SAGAL: Exactly.

POUNDSTONE: Instead, it's just going to be a little coin purse.


SAGAL: Madeline, your next quote comes from a climatologist quoted in National Hog Farmer magazine.


KASELL: It was off the chart.

SAGAL: You can imagine how we felt when we found that in our copy of National Hog Farmer.


SAGAL: That climatologist, Deke Arndt, was referring to the extreme what experienced in 2012?


SAGAL: Yes, indeed, the heat.



SAGAL: The record books have closed on 2012 and we can now say officially it was the hottest year ever, as the New York Times said it, it wasn't even close. It was so hot that even comedians are now answering the question "How hot was it" by saying, "What's the matter with you? Haven't you been outside? It was very hot. It's very serious."


SAGAL: It's been getting hotter so consistently that they now say that no one under the age of 27 has ever experienced in their lifetimes a colder than average month. This is tragic, but those people have also never experience a good Woody Allen movie, and they seem to be surviving.


SAGAL: In Australia, where it is summer now, of course, the heat is so extreme that meteorologists have had to add new colors to the weather maps. That's true. Because the red wasn't enough any more, they had to move on to, like, flammable purple. It's so hot there they're just throwing the shrimps outside. There's no need for a barbie.


FELBER: And the shrimps come running back in, going, like, are you crazy?

O'CONNOR: It's so hot out there.


FELBER: Kangaroos are filling their pouches with ice.

SAGAL: Oh, it's terrible. It's so hot in Australia the dingo had to blow on my baby before he ate it. It was terrible.


SAGAL: Here, Madeline, is your last quote.

KASELL: Genghis Kahn, Nickelback, head lice, root canals, colonoscopies, and Donald Trump.

SAGAL: That's a list of things that are, according to a poll released this week, more popular than what?

MACKIE: What Carl did on his winter break.



SAGAL: Let's leave Carl's private life out of it.


SAGAL: So, no, I want to...

FELBER: We just became Match Game.


SAGAL: Exactly. Let's have Carl read the list again, and I want you to keep in mind, these are things that according to a recent poll released this week are more popular than something. Here we go.

KASELL: Genghis Kahn, Nickelback, head lice, root canals, colonoscopies, and Donald Trump.

SAGAL: All of those things are more popular with the public than what?

MACKIE: Our government. I have no idea.

SAGAL: Yes, Congress.




SAGAL: You were thinking to yourself, I'm not going to say the government, that's too obvious. And beating our Congress, also, in terms of popularity with the public are the NFL replacement refs, carnies and France.


SAGAL: But Congress...

FELBER: Carnies?

POUNDSTONE: Are they unpopular?

SAGAL: Apparently.


SAGAL: I do want to let you all know, and if there are any congress people listening, they do remain more popular than the Kardashians...


SAGAL: ...Lindsay Lohan, gonorrhea...


POUNDSTONE: And why are people upset with gonorrhea?


FELBER: Here you go again, Poundstone.

POUNDSTONE: No, Kim Kardashian did come in lower than Congress did she not?

SAGAL: Yes, which is weird.

POUNDSTONE: OK, all right.

SAGAL: Because a lot of people watch...

POUNDSTONE: But that's not weird at all. That Kim Kardashian would be lower than Congress?

SAGAL: More people watch the Kardashians on TV than watch Congress.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, but it's to know where they are so you can avoid them.


SAGAL: Carl, how did Madeline do on our quiz?

KASELL: Madeline, you had three correct answers, so I'll be doing the message on your voicemail or home answering machine.

SAGAL: Well done.


SAGAL: Thanks for playing, Madeline.

MACKIE: Thank you.

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