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Who's Bill This Time?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The following program was taped before an audience of no one.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. (Singing) Jingle Bills, jingle Bills, jingle all the Bills...

Bill Kurtis. And here is your host, a man as fertile as the plains of Kansas, Peter Sagal.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill. And thanks as always to our fake audience, which this week are all the people in my head telling me that, yes, my new baby son is, in fact, the finest, most beautiful child to ever be born. It is true. I was out for a couple of weeks because my wife and I had a baby. Both are doing fine, and it'll just be seven short years until he's the perfect age to appreciate the humor on this show.

In the meantime, my sincere thanks to Maz Jobrani, who did such a great job filling in for me that I told the baby he'd have to change his own diapers and ran back before anybody got any ideas. But if you've been waiting to call in to our show until I was too sleep-deprived to make any sense at all, now's your chance. The number is 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Let's welcome our first listener contestant.

Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

PATTY SCARFF: Hi, this is Patty Scarff from Kalamazoo, Mich.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Kalamazoo? We once had a fine time there doing our show about six or seven years ago.

SCARFF: Oh, they're delightful. A bit cold, but it's winter in Michigan.

SAGAL: And what do you do there?

SCARFF: I sell alcohol.

SAGAL: What a great...

PETER GROSZ: Yay.

SAGAL: ...Business to be in now.

HELEN HONG: Wow.

GROSZ: So you're a first responder.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARFF: More or less.

SAGAL: You're a frontline worker handling...

GROSZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...The catastrophe.

SCARFF: I do bring much-needed supplies.

SAGAL: Yeah.

HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Well, Patty, welcome to our show. Let me introduce you to our panel this week. First up, it's an actor and writer you might remember from his role as Mike Pence on "The President Show," which is now streaming on CBS All Access. It's Peter Grosz.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

GROSZ: Hello. Thank you for your service.

SAGAL: Next, a comedian who can be seen in the CBS comedy "The Unicorn," season one, on Netflix and the host of the trivia podcast Go Fact Yourself on the Maximum Fun network. It's Helen Hong.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

HONG: Patty, you're doing God's work. Thank you.

SAGAL: And an author and humorist on a leave of absence to spend more time with his beard - it's Tom Bodett.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

TOM BODETT: Hello, Patty.

SAGAL: So, Patty, you're going to play Who's Bill this time? Bill Kurtis is going to read you three quotations we found in the week's news. If you can correctly identify or explain just two of them, you will win our prize - any voice from our show you might choose on your voicemail. You ready to go?

SCARFF: Let's do it.

SAGAL: Let's do it. Here is your first quote.

KURTIS: You didn't flinch.

SAGAL: That was Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York on Monday talking to the first American to get what this week?

SCARFF: The coronavirus vaccine.

SAGAL: Yes, the coronavirus...

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: ...Vaccine...

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: ...The only liquid more valuable in this crisis than alcohol. The coronavirus vaccines...

GROSZ: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...Were finally delivered this week, with news channels showing live shots of planes carrying it, landing at airports, UPS trucks waiting to, you know, carry it away. We all remember where we were when the first crates of vaccines were delivered. We were at home, where we have been for nine months.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But finally, on Monday, we got to watch as the first health care workers got their shots. They were smiling. They rubbed their arms. Then they slowly transformed into vampires. Dammit, we really should not have rushed this.

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: You know what? I was really reticent about getting it. But then I saw online they gave it to Ian McKellen, Sir Ian McKellen. And if it's good enough for Gandalf, all right, sign...

GROSZ: Wait a minute. Gandalf doesn't need the vaccine.

HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Yes...

GROSZ: Can't he just, like, pound his...

HONG: White sword.

GROSZ: ...Walking stick into the ground? Yes. You shall not infect...

SAGAL: Yeah.

GROSZ: ...Me.

SAGAL: Now, right now, of course, as I'm sure you all saw on TV, the vaccine is going to medical professionals, other frontline workers. That's terrible for us normals. We'll be last in line. And what if when we get the vaccine, all they have left is, like, the marked down, irregular vaccines? Like, wait - this says it prevents boronabirus (ph).

GROSZ: I'm going to get Walvax (ph).

SAGAL: So most of us will be waiting for months to get this thing we desperately want. It's like a PlayStation 5 that hurts.

BODETT: (Laughter).

GROSZ: It would be interesting if there was a list of everybody in the country, and it was, like, not just by group, but they were, like, OK, first - president, the vice president, then all the way down.

BODETT: (Laughter).

GROSZ: And you could really tell - like, I'm behind this guy named Gary Williams (ph). He lives in Phoenix.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: I guess his - like, his heart is a little worse than mine, so I guess he'll get it before.

BODETT: You call that a heart condition? I'll show you a heart condition.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It'd be worth doing in alphabetical order so that Mark Zuckerberg goes last, I guess.

GROSZ: Oh, that would be fantastic.

SAGAL: The CDC, of course, is working on their messaging to get people to accept the vaccine. We are Americans, after all. We don't like things like vaccines. So they're going to call it the Doritos Modernos Locos (ph) vaccine.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: Modernos Locos.

BODETT: We need new ranch flavor.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I'm not going to get the vaccine. I'm getting the double vaccine with cheese.

GROSZ: Oreo big stuffing.

SAGAL: The double-stuffed vaccine.

GROSZ: Double-stuffed vaccine - I'm getting Pfizer and Moderna.

HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Patty, here is your next quote.

KURTIS: Today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.

SAGAL: That was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Was he speaking this week or six weeks ago...

GROSZ: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...When Joe Biden actually won the election?

SCARFF: Unfortunately, this week.

SAGAL: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: He spoke this week...

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SAGAL: ...Forty days after Mr. Biden won the presidency. He won the presidency again for something like the three dozenth time this week, when the Electoral College formally met and voted. Was Trump talking to Biden when he said, you'll get tired of all the winning?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Like they say, it's not over 'til it's over 42 times in a row. Somewhere, a very hoarse fat lady is saying, what more do you people want?

HONG: (Laughter).

GROSZ: I didn't realize it was 40 days. It was actually 40 days.

SAGAL: It's very biblical. It...

GROSZ: That means that Mitch McConnell - he just gave up being a responsible person for Lent, apparently. He just, like, shifted early.

(LAUGHTER).

SAGAL: Now, of course, with - because the election has actually been over, the president-elect has been naming his cabinet. Former Governor Tom Vilsack was named agriculture secretary, beating out Representative Jerrold Nadler, who, like Tom Vilsack, has a name that sounds like testicles.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But the big news this week was former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He was named secretary of transportation. That is historic. He is the first openly gay cabinet secretary and also the first-ever transportation secretary not old enough to drive.

HONG: (Laughter).

GROSZ: Yeah, it's - he's going to, like, convert, like, electric - it's not going to be any, like, electric buses and stuff. It's going to be all Big Wheels.

(CROSSTALK)

SAGAL: Find out, well, trains in the real world don't have faces on them.

HONG: (Laughter).

GROSZ: I want to ask a serious question...

SAGAL: You may.

GROSZ: ...Of Pete Buttigieg. What qualifies somebody like him, in all seriousness, to be secretary of transportation? Just, like, a general competence? Like, what does it actually take?

SAGAL: Well, first of all...

GROSZ: Because he clearly has no experience.

SAGAL: ...Don't say he doesn't know anything about transportation. That's not true. He's from Indiana. He knows what the American public wants, which is to drive through Indiana as quickly as possible.

HONG: (Laughter).

GROSZ: He's going to raise the speed limit in Indiana to a 100 miles an hour.

SAGAL: No, actually, a number of people pointed this out - that one of the things that qualifies Mayor Pete, or soon-to-be Secretary Pete, to be secretary of transportation - is that he is, in fact, a nerd. He just loves minutiae and policy. One of the things he loved to talk about is about the smart sewage system that they had installed in South Bend. And the idea is anybody who'd get so excited about a smart, digitized sewer system is just the guy to handle, like, complicated, boring infrastructure projects.

GROSZ: Yeah.

BODETT: Is a smart sewage system the same as a sentient sewage system?

HONG: (Laughter) It'll tell you when you need more fiber in your diet (laughter).

GROSZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: Exactly. All right, Patty, we have one more quote for you. Here it is.

KURTIS: It's still beautiful. It's just skinnier and smaller and shorter than normal.

SAGAL: That was a person quoted in The Wall Street Journal describing what they'd be decorating this Christmas thanks to a big shortage of what?

SCARFF: Christmas trees.

SAGAL: Christmas trees.

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SAGAL: There is a big shortage of Christmas tree.

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SAGAL: There's a rush on them. People really want something to celebrate. Christmas trees are selling for as much as $1,800. Trees are...

HONG: What?

SAGAL: ...So hard to find, people are instead putting their ornaments and tinsel on COVID vaccines.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Prices have increased, they say, over 50% percent for the popular Fraser fir and 40% for the slimmer but more particular Niles fir.

GROSZ: There you go.

HONG: Eighteen hundred dollars for a Christmas tree - are you serious?

SAGAL: Yeah. People just want to feel normal. They want to feel Christmassy (ph).

GROSZ: The Christmas tree from the "Peanuts" sold for $5,000.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: That's how...

SAGAL: Oh, my...

GROSZ: That's how in-demand they are.

SAGAL: People are so desperate because they can't get trees that they're doing things - they're, like, putting a red and white suit on a La-Z-Boy and pretending it's Santa Claus. Go ahead, kids - sit in Santa's lap. Hey, pull Santa's handle.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Now, it may seem like a problem, but there is a solution. We use one holiday's problems to solve another's. Remember all those surplus turkeys that no one was buying because Thanksgivings got canceled? Well, introducing the gaily decorated Christmas raw turkey.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Hey, kids, your presents are just inside next to the giblets. Go get them.

HONG: (Laughter).

GROSZ: Yeah, we got a 16-pound tree.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: Normally, we get a 22-pound tree, but there's not many people, so...

SAGAL: Great tree - it'll serve a whole family.

GROSZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: It's amazing. Bill, how did Patty do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Perfect from Kalamazoo - good going, Patty.

SAGAL: Congratulations. Well, do you have a particular cocktail as an alcohol salesperson to celebrate a win?

SCARFF: Yeah, I'm a whiskey drinker, so...

SAGAL: Absolutely - as we all are slowly becoming.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Patty, thank you so much for playing.

SCARFF: Thank you.

BODETT: Thanks, Patty.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

KURTIS: Thank you, Patty.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE HAPPIEST CHRISTMAS TREE")

NAT KING COLE: (Singing) I'm the happiest Christmas tree. Ho, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee (ph). Someone came, and they found me and took me home with them. Oh... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.