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Who's Bill This Time

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

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. Stimulus bill? I'm a stimulating Bill - Bill Kurtis. And here's your host from exactly 6 feet away from me, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: And thanks to Mike, our producer, who is taking the place of an audience this week. We are back in the studio with some of our panelists in their homes. And I've got to say, we're getting a little lonely, so Mike has promised me he'll make us feel just as loved and appreciated as we always are with you thanks to his trusty soundboard.


SAGAL: Thank you, Mike.


SAGAL: Yeah, I got it. Later on, we're going to be talking to fashion guru Tim Gunn. But first, it's your turn to call in with the news. The number is 1-888-WAIT-WAIT - that's 1-888-924-8924. Now let's welcome our first listener contestant.

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

TRACY: Hi, this is Tracy (ph). I'm calling from Rochester, Minn.

SAGAL: Oh, Rochester - I know it well. What do you do there?

TRACY: I am a medical writer and editor.

SAGAL: Oh, do you work at the Mayo Clinic, the famed institution there in Rochester?

TRACY: Right. Yes.

SAGAL: How are things at the Mayo Clinic?

TRACY: They are a little busy right now. Yeah.

SAGAL: I - well, what's going on? I can't imagine why you'd be busy.

TRACY: I think there's something going around (laughter).

SAGAL: How are you coping with social distancing?

TRACY: Well, I've been doing some virtual happy hours with some friends, and that seems to be going pretty well.

SAGAL: Oh, it (laughter) - does it go better as it goes along, Tracy?

TRACY: Absolutely. Yeah, definitely.

NEGIN FARSAD: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Tracy. It's great to talk to you. Let me introduce you to our panel this week, joining us from around the country. First up, a comedian who can be seen losing his mind on Twitter like the rest of us at @atpburke and on his YouTube channel, Adam Burke. It is, of course, Adam Burke.


SAGAL: That's going to age well, the sound effects.

FARSAD: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Next, a columnist for The Progressive magazine and host of the podcast Fake The Nation, which you should subscribe to because what else are you doing with your time right now? It's Negin Farsad.


FARSAD: I feel like I'm on an episode of "The Breakfast Club."

SAGAL: And an actor and writer who directed the upcoming Audible original series "Escape From Virtual Island" featuring Paul Rudd. It comes out April 2. Say hello to Peter Grosz.



TRACY: Hello.


GROSZ: Oh, was that a whistle and a fart - that sound effect?

SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Tracy. You're going to play Who's Bill This Time. Bill Kurtis is going to read you three quotations from this week's news. If you can correctly identify or explain just two of them, you'll win our prize - any voice from our show you may choose on your voicemail. You ready to play?

TRACY: I'm ready.

SAGAL: Here we go. Your first quote is from U.S.A. wrestler Jordan Burroughs.

KURTIS: You going to cry about it or boss up? I'm going to do both.

SAGAL: Mr. Burroughs is one of many athletes who's got mixed emotions about the postponement of what?

TRACY: The Summer Olympics.

SAGAL: Exactly right...


SAGAL: ...The Olympics.


SAGAL: They will not be happening in Tokyo in August as scheduled, which is such a shame because flights to Japan are so cheap right now. At first...


SAGAL: ...Organizers tried to figure out a way to let the games go forward - you know, for example, do wrestling on an honor system. If one guy does a really good move, the other agrees to fall down. The relay races could go forward...

FARSAD: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...Each runner dropping the baton onto a porch and the next coming out of the house to get it. And they actually tried to stage corona-ready events, but it was a disaster when they moved the parallel bars six feet apart. And the dressage horses...


SAGAL: ...Were really not into being ridden by video chat.

GROSZ: One of the events they could have done - they could have, like - everybody could have, like, run the running races individually or swam the swimming races individually. And then at the end, they'd be, like, all right. We tallied all the numbers.


GROSZ: This is the person who won.

SAGAL: The problem is all the pools are closed. People would have to, like, do it in their bathtubs, you see?

GROSZ: Oh, I think Rand Paul found a way to go swimming while he was getting tested for the coronavirus. I really...

FARSAD: (Laughter).

GROSZ: I feel like everybody could get in on that.

FARSAD: Although I feel like - I'm really disappointed. I feel, like, there's a missed opportunity. Like, we could see a lot of these hard-body athletes competing totally covered in Saran Wrap. That's something I want to see, you know?

SAGAL: Negin, I didn't know that sort of thing about you, and I'm not sure if I wanted to.

FARSAD: (Laughter).

SAGAL: It's good they canceled it because even if they tried to pull it off, nobody's in the mood. I mean, prizes would have had to be bronze, silver and a roll of toilet paper.

ADAM BURKE: (Laughter).

GROSZ: Yeah.

FARSAD: (Laughter).

BURKE: Can we just do the games that we're all playing in our house?

SAGAL: Like what?

BURKE: You know, like...

GROSZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: What, Adam?

BURKE: ...Just trying to get popcorn into the dog's mouth, you know?

SAGAL: Oh, yes.


BURKE: From 50 yards.

SAGAL: Well, the 2021 Olympics - they're going to try to do them then - will be different in some ways. But Team USA will as always win basketball. They'll just send the Utah Jazz. Nobody will come near them.


GROSZ: Yeah, there you go, soundy (ph).

SAGAL: All right. Here, Tracy, is your next quote.

KURTIS: The bill should include funds to buy bored people Nintendo Switches.

SAGAL: That was writer Libby Watson commenting on what bill Congress finally agreed to this week?

TRACY: The relief package.

SAGAL: Exactly right...


SAGAL: ...The big relief bill. Congress this week passed a $2 trillion relief bill. That's trillion with a T. That stands for, you're tucking kidding me.

BURKE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: It took some doing. The first version of the bill...

FARSAD: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...Would have created a $500 billion fund that the administration could have handed out as they liked. They wouldn't even have had to reveal what they did with it till the end of the year. When asked who would oversee the program, the president said, quote, "I will be the oversight," unquote. As in, he'll take all the money so he can look it over.


SAGAL: So they put in some safeguards. There will be an oversight committee. And they even wrote in a rule that money can't go to any company owned by the president or his family and - they wrote this in specifically - his son-in-law.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: It's weird - a bill out of Congress, hundreds of pages in technical language, and on page eight, somebody scrawls, not you, Jared.


BURKE: It's nice. On the one hand, it's good that it's helping people. On the other hand, it kind of feels like a mafia boss just tucking wads of cash into your shirt and going, don't worry about it, kid. Just look the other way.

SAGAL: It's like when somebody crashes your car and destroys it. You're, like, you ruined my car. And they just pull out a - like, a sheaf of bills.

BURKE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: They're, like, how much is it going to take? Two hundred? You look like a guy (ph)...

BURKE: Yeah (laughter). I could use a new car anyway. But I know this is really hard on a lot of people, and I'm not trying to minimize that, but we are sort of uniquely prepared for this. We've all kind of been self-isolating anyway.

SAGAL: It's true.

BURKE: We have Netflix. Can you imagine if this happened in the early '80s...

SAGAL: We'd have nothing.

BURKE: ...How screwed we would be?

GROSZ: I wonder if the coronavirus was, like, sentient, it would be, like, but I thought this is what you all wanted.


GROSZ: You're all staying at home anyway and ordering everything to be delivered and keeping apart from each other. You didn't? I'm so sorry.


SAGAL: That's true. All right, Tracy. We have one more quote for you. Here it is.

KURTIS: I'm married to a let's-circle-back guy. Who knew?

SAGAL: There was a woman named Laura Norkin (ph) who learned that her husband says that phrase all the time because he, like a lot of us, has to do what?

TRACY: Telework.

SAGAL: Exactly right.


SAGAL: He has to work from home...


SAGAL: ...Virtual assistant. Those of us who are lucky enough to still have jobs have now learned how tricky it is to do all of your meetings remotely from home. For one thing, you have to pretend to pay attention. There will be an Oscar category this year for Best Hiding That You're Actually Reading Twitter In Another Window.

GROSZ: Won by a white person.

FARSAD: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Most likely, yes. People, of course, are constantly being interrupted at their meetings by kids or pets or the hostage escaping from the basement. And even worse, people's partners...

FARSAD: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...Are finding out what they are like at work, like you heard. You've been together 15 years, and all of a sudden, you find out you live with someone who likes to start business meetings with emotional check-ins.


SAGAL: And...

FARSAD: You also have - everyone also looks really ridiculous because they're business on top and, like, horrible beltless pant on the bottom (laughter).

GROSZ: Oh, yes. That's...

BURKE: See, I've been doing this the wrong way round. I've been going shirtless and then just pressed pants.


BURKE: I love that this has turned parents into the monster in the closet.

SAGAL: It's true.


SAGAL: There's somebody in the closet, and he's talking about third-quarter projections. One fun thing is we're all getting to see what news anchors' homes look like. Anderson Cooper, for example, apparently lives in Downton Abbey. Who knew? And Wolf Blitzer...


SAGAL: ...Lives in an actual wolf den. But the best part is they all have to do...

GROSZ: Wolf Blitzer lives in the studio. I have not seen Wolf Blitzer at home. There are a few people who are at home, and then a few people that are, like, I guess forced at gunpoint or something to go into the regular studios. It's a little crazy.

SAGAL: I don't know, actually. I made that up. It's a joke. I don't know if Wolf Blitzer has a home. I think when he's done, they just stand him in the corner, and he stays there silently until it's his next show.

GROSZ: Yeah.


SAGAL: Bill, how did Tracy do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Tracy did well enough to put it on the closed circuit at Mayo. What a pleasure to watch, Tracy.


KURTIS: You got every one right.

SAGAL: Thank you, Tracy, for playing. And thank you for the work you do up there at the Mayo Clinic. It's important.

TRACY: Thanks so much.


FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: (Singing) It's business, it's business time. I know what you're trying to say. You're trying to say it's time for business, it's business time. Oh, it's business... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.