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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Sat April 20, 2013
Al Gore Plays Not My Job: Extended Cut
A shorter version of this segment was originally broadcast on Feb. 14, 2013.
Since Al Gore's term as the 45th vice president of the United States ended in 2001, he has starred in an Oscar-winning documentary, won a Grammy Award and received the Nobel Peace Prize. But obviously he won't be satisfied until he wins the NPR news quiz, so we've invited him to play a game called "Maybe you can beat Bill Clinton at this."
Back in 2011, Clinton appeared on Wait Wait and correctly answered three questions about the My Little Pony children's TV show. We're going to ask Gore three questions about actual little ponies.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Vice President Al Gore joined us along with Luke Burbank, Brian Babylon and Roxanne Roberts in February of this year to talk about his new book, "The Future."
CARL KASELL: Here's an extended version of our interview with him with some material we've never broadcast before.
SAGAL: So we're just going to get settled here. You heard the voices a moment ago of our panel today. We have - Mr. Luke Burbank is here.
LUKE BURBANK: Mr. Gore.
SAGAL: We have, Roxanne Roberts is here.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: Wait, you can't say Mr. Gore.
BURBANK: Mr. Vice President.
ROBERTS: Yeah, but you...
BURBANK: Excuse me, Mr. Vice President.
ROBERTS: What do you like to be called?
AL GORE: Actually, the proper designation is, Your Adequacy.
SAGAL: We were wondering about that.
SAGAL: We all remember 2000 and the somewhat disappointing result for you.
GORE: Somewhat disappointing?
SAGAL: I was pleased to see that you got a medal for participation, though, which I thought was...
SAGAL: ...very kind of the Supreme Court.
GORE: Yeah, this self-esteem movement has really gotten out of hand.
SAGAL: I have a serious question about this because I read...
GORE: Now, that's hard to believe.
SAGAL: I know. I do.
SAGAL: It is. But I read that soon after the election or the Supreme Court decision or whatever you want to call it, you had a meeting with soon-to-be President Bush in the Oval Office, so I guess it must've been after his inauguration. What was that meeting like?
GORE: No. Actually, we did not meet in the Oval Office until quite a few years later. We had a brief meeting during the transition period after the Supreme Court decision at the VP house. And, you know, it was a perfectly pleasant meeting. I mean, I did a lot of research, and I did confirm that there's no intermediate step between a final Supreme Court decision and violent revolution.
GORE: And after withdrawal, it was a very cordial meeting.
SAGAL: Really? He was nice?
GORE: Yeah, yeah, I was, too.
SAGAL: Which I'm sure everybody appreciated. So we wanted to go back a little bit into the life and legend of Al Gore. We've all heard some of the stories. We know, for example, that your college roommate at Harvard was Tommy Lee Jones.
SAGAL: But we understand that you guys were pretty competitive at Harvard. Is that true?
GORE: That is true.
SAGAL: Well, how did you express that competitive spirit?
GORE: Well, in multiple ways. Well, gosh, I can't tell all these stories, for God's sake.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Just one of them.
SAGAL: Just one of them.
GORE: We were both Southern boys, and at one point when we were freshmen, we got into a knife-throwing contest.
SAGAL: Like all Southern boys do.
GORE: Well, you can't, you know, if you can't go hunting, you might as well, and I shudder to this day to see the results of that knife-throwing contest on a particular tree in the Harvard yard. It did...
GORE: ...survive. That's the good news. But, yeah, we were quite competitive.
SAGAL: Only at Harvard would you walk by a couple of guys chucking knives at a tree, and one of them becomes vice president, and the other's...
SAGAL: ...nominated for an Oscar.
BURBANK: I know.
SAGAL: So I want to ask you, just between us, you must've looked...
SAGAL: Nobody listens to this thing. During the Bush administration, there must've been times when you said to yourself or at least said to the TV screen, told ya.
GORE: No. I, mean, look, I'm sorry to be serious on you too much, but...
SAGAL: I'm so surprised that that's your choice, but go on.
GORE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I mean, they used to say, when I was vice president, how do you tell the difference between Al Gore and a room full of Secret Service agents? He's the stiff one, but...
SAGAL: We didn't realize you heard that. I'm feeling bad now.
SAGAL: Actually, I do want to ask you about that because you did have that reputation, and you were a national figure for so long, and people made these jokes about you. And did that every bother you speaking to someone who makes jokes about national figures?
GORE: Oh, no.
SAGAL: Really, honestly?
GORE: Oh, no.
BRIAN BABYLON: Because you're a very funny guy. You just made three quality jokes just in the five minutes.
GORE: Well, I benefit from low expectations, but...
SAGAL: No, when you were here...
SAGAL: ...and all the guys going, oh...
GORE: One of the lines was that Al Gore is so boring that his Secret Service code name was Al Gore.
SAGAL: But haven't you ever wanted to, like, you know, just go out there and cut it up? And, you know, it never bothered...
GORE: Excuse me, I'm doing WAIT, WAIT...DON'T TELL M E!
SAGAL: That's true, that's true.
SAGAL: We're doing what we can for you. I have to say I've been reading your book this week. You have a new book called The Future...and it's not just about climate change, although that plays a part. It's about a lot of other trends that you see happening in the world. Not many of them are very good. Can you tell us some good things that are going to happen in the future?
GORE: Yeah, there are a lot of good things in it, and some reviewers have said I'm overly optimistic. All of these drivers of global change are right about bring both opportunity and some perils. And the underlying theme is that we, as human beings, have to be conscious and participate in making choices. And we, as Americans, particularly, have to rise to the occasion because there is no other country that can provide leadership in the world at a time when leadership is greatly needed.
POUNDSTONE: Don't you think he sounded like a politician there?
SAGAL: You just did.
SAGAL: You didn't take a breath during that whole thing.
GORE: I calculated that that was my 20 seconds to make the pitch to get people to buy my new book.
SAGAL: I understand that.
SAGAL: I appreciate it.
GORE: Enough with the frivolity already. Buy the book.
SAGAL: Let's sell some books.
SAGAL: The book is written from the perspective of a deeply engaged researcher who's deeply engaged with all these people and all these things that you spend your life deeply engaged with. But don't you think you should've peppered it with some, like, personal anecdotes just to make it a little more spicy? I mean, I'm just saying.
GORE: Well, excuse me, but you appear to be too deeply engaged with the deeply engaged research...
GORE: ...to have noticed the personal anecdotes that are in the book. Did you not read about my experiences with the chicken houses?
SAGAL: I may have been skimming through that part.
GORE: I, I, I, I.
POUNDSTONE: Hey, chicken houses?
SAGAL: What happened with chicken houses?
POUNDSTONE: What about them?
GORE: We had on our family farm chicken...
GORE: ...houses. And all of a sudden, we had automated chicken houses, two houses with 5,000 chickens each, and one person collects the eggs from all the chickens. And when the chickens are put into the chicken houses, they have to have a social life, so the roosters were drugged and put every 15 square feet. And when they aroused from their drug-induced torpor, then the social life of the chicken house really got going.
GORE: The only place where the chickens could lay their eggs was on top of the conveyor belt. So one person could collect the eggs from 10,000 chickens.
SAGAL: I'm sure that, you know, watching the drugged roosters gaze at the chickens actually prepared you for the Clinton White House.
GORE: Now, that...
POUNDSTONE: You made him stop talking.
SAGAL: I know.
SAGAL: Are you going to let some time go by? Are you going to write another book? A sequel to "The Future" called, like, "See"?
POUNDSTONE: Told ya?
SAGAL: Or "OK, I Wasn't Quite Right About That"?
BABYLON: He could do a sequel to "Charlotte's Web"?
BABYLON: Why not?
SAGAL: That's a random thing to say, Brian.
BABYLON: Yeah, that's in my line.
SAGAL: Why not? Well, I'll ask you that. Well, you've done so much. You now have this book. What is next for you?
GORE: Well, speaking of "Charlotte's Web"...
BABYLON: Thank you.
GORE: Do you know about spider goats?
GORE: We don't know about spider goats.
Well, this is a passage in the book.
SAGAL: Oh, oh.
SAGAL: You did that to me on purpose.
GORE: They are now taking the jeans...
GORE: ...from orb-weaving spiders and splicing them into goats and making spider goats.
BABYLON: And they save...
GORE: And they look like goats.
BABYLON: ...old cities.
SAGAL: Oh, thank God.
GORE: But they secrete the spider silk in their milk through their udders, where it is strained and captured and sold as an industrial commodity. Isn't that fascinating?
SAGAL: I would love to get you high, Mr. Vice President.
SAGAL: Is that part of the...
GORE: Do you know...
GORE: ...(unintelligible) farmers...
GORE: ...who are having trouble with their dairy cattle.
GORE: Because when they force feed them and use the automatic milking machines...
GORE: ...their estracycles are speeded up...
GORE: ...(unintelligible) the pollution.
GORE: They put digital devices in their cows so that when they come in heat, they kept the farmers. And it is the first known example of interspecies sexton.
SAGAL: There, you...
SAGAL: Well, look at that. You know what? I don't know if you gave us a footnote, but we covered that on this show. So...
GORE: If you had really read the book, you...
SAGAL: All right. And one more question, have you ever heard - this is a fairly important question. Have you ever heard comedian, Ed Helms, do his gay Al Gore impression?
GORE: No, I would love to.
SAGAL: Well, what do you know? We just happened to have some tape of him doing it on this show.
SAGAL: We heard that you do - and I don't how you come up with this - a gay Al Gore.
ED HELMS: Right. If I were elected president...
HELMS: I would make absolutely certain that patent leather stiletto heels came in men's sizes.
GORE: Oh, that's very funny, very funny.
SAGAL: I want to say one thing, and I say this in all honesty, that if America had heard you giggle like that just once before the 2000 election...
GORE: ...not only would you have been president, they would've changed the Constitution so that you would still be president at this time.
SAGAL: Well, Al Gore, we have invited you here to play a game we're calling?
KASELL: Maybe You Can Beat Bill Clinton at This.
SAGAL: You may remember that your former boss, Bill Clinton, came on this show and correctly answered three questions about the children's TV show, "My Little Pony."
SAGAL: Well, Al Gore, we are going to ask you about actual little ponies.
SAGAL: Answer two of these questions correctly, you'll win our game. Answer three of them correctly, you'll never have to play second banana to that guy again.
SAGAL: Ready to play?
GORE: I'm ready.
SAGAL: But first, who is Al Gore playing for, Carl?
KASELL: Peter, he's playing for Elliott Laipsen Brown of Minneapolis.
SAGAL: There you go.
SAGAL: Now, are you ready?
GORE: OK, Elliott. I'm trying to get you Carl's voice on your answering machine.
SAGAL: Well done.
GORE: And I'm ready.
SAGAL: Here we go. Here's your first question: Shetland ponies have made their way to Hollywood starring in which of these films? Was it A: "The Adventures of Ragtime," which more than one reviewer described as "Home Alone" but with a Shetland pony.
SAGAL: B, "Holy Shetland," an early 60's sitcom about a pony that dresses like a nun and teaches at a Catholic school, or C, "Yay or Neigh," a documentary about the first Shetland pony elected to the British Parliament.
GORE: Are those the only three choices?
SAGAL: They are, in fact, the only choices.
GORE: Oh, I'm going with A.
SAGAL: A, "The Adventures of Ragtime," "Home Alone" but with a Shetland pony?
SAGAL: Yes, you're right, exactly right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: "The Adventures of Ragtime," a fine film. Second question, doing very well so far. Shetland ponies have caused problems, though, as in which of these real incidents. Was it A, in 2011, one farmer complained that his horses had developed, quote, "self-image issues" because they constantly compared themselves to his tiny Shetland pony.
SAGAL: In 2009, a Shetland pony in England prompted several calls to authorities from people who thought it was a regular pony, which had sunk in the mud.
SAGAL: Or C, The infamous Shetland Seven, a gang of robbers who rode ponies to and from their crimes?
GORE: I'm going with B.
SAGAL: You're going to go with B, the Shetland pony in England. Yes, that's right. That's the right answer.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Whoa. Rocking it through this. All right. Here's your last question. Get this right, and you're perfect. Of course, advertisers have tried to capitalize on the adorable use of Shetland ponies as in which of these: A, A tourism ad for Scotland which showed Shetland ponies in sweaters that, quote, "wouldn't seem out of place in any trendy city hangout." B, A Burger King ad that said, if we were going to use horse meat, wouldn't we use adorable horse meat?
SAGAL: Or C, A Go-Daddy ad in which a nerdy teen made out with a Shetland pony?
GORE: Wow, that's a tough one. I'll go with A.
SAGAL: You're going to go with A, a tourism ad for Scotland with Shetland ponies in sweaters.
GORE: I've actually seen that ad.
SAGAL: Then you know you're right. Very good.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Wow. Carl, how did former Vice President Gore do on our quiz?
KASELL: Al Gore, you had three correct answers, a perfect game, perfect score, so you win for Elliott Laipsen Brown.
SAGAL: Well done.
BURBANK: Well, sort of, Mr. Vice President, because the Republicans have challenged the results of this quiz.
BURBANK: It's going to be kind of quiet out in the courts.
GORE: Oh, you're not going to recount this.
SAGAL: Yeah, we are.
GORE: Al Gore is the former vice president. He starred in an Oscar-winning film, and he's the author of the new book, "The Future." Vice President Gore, thank you so much for joining us.
BABYLON: What a joy to talk to you.
(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.