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Bluff The Listener


BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Yassir Lester, Tom Papa and Jessi Klein. And here again is your host, the current host of this show, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. 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.

ALEX PALMER: Hey, Peter. This is Alex Palmer from Washington, D.C.

SAGAL: Alex Palmer in Washington - what do you do there?

PALMER: Well, I actually specialize in international election integrity.

SAGAL: Do you really?

TOM PAPA: How do you have the time?

SAGAL: Have you actually considered, like, someone's going to hire you to oversee elections in the United States?

PALMER: You know, I really hope no one does that.


SAGAL: I guess once we have to call you, it's already too late. Well, Alex, welcome to the show. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Alex's topic?

KURTIS: Too late to exit Brexit.

SAGAL: At first, it seemed like Brexit was going great. The U.K. even won the race to invent a new coronavirus variant. But now we're seeing signs that it wasn't maybe such a good idea. Our panelists are going to tell you about that. Pick the one who's telling the truth - you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. Ready to go?


SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Tom Papa.

PAPA: Many Britons wanted to Brexit because it would keep those suspicious foreigners out of their business. But it also, of course, makes it a lot harder to import all kinds of delicious food, leaving them only with jellied eel, spotted dick and canned haggis. So to deal with the looming shortage of prepared foods and also to cut down on wasting the food they have, British authorities have instructed citizens, hey, that use by date - ignore it. Many foods which have exceeded their best before date are still safe to consume weeks and even months later.

Some helpful techniques - look at your potatoes. Are those vines growing out of them or useful handles? Bread - is it stale, or has it just turned into a giant crouton? And milk - what's wrong with a drink you can chew? As opponents of Brexit have been saying for years as they look up from their tea and clotted cream, something just don't smell right.

SAGAL: Britons being told to just ignore those expiration dates on their food. We're sure it's fine. Yes, enjoy it. It just smells a little funny. Your next story of a Brexit problem comes from Jessi Klein.

JESSI KLEIN: The 52% of British citizens who voted for Brexit presumably were hoping for a long-term economic boost. What they didn't bank on, however, was some very unexpected and sobering news out of 10 Downing this week. After months of negotiating, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that, sadly, one of the trade-offs in leaving the EU would be the loss of their distinctively charming British accents, which, as it turns out, were imported and are no longer affordable.

The country let out a collective gasp as they were informed in a national address that effective immediately, the entire nation will have to speak with the cheapest accent available, which unfortunately is Midwestern American. Adding insult to injury, many of their most cherished British expressions, such as knackered, bloody hell, pip pip and chuffed will all have to be swapped for Americanisms like, where's my food? - and how much is that gun?

Millions of Brits are despondent over the loss of their accent, which many counted on for an aura of sophisticated intelligence even when they were doing stupid things like voting for Brexit. The accent was our thing, lamented Thomas Wells (ph), an accountant from Yorkshire. Now we sound completely daft. Unfortunately for Thomas, due to Brexit, daft is now considered an import word, and he had to fill out 50 pages of tariff paperwork to use it.

SAGAL: Britons having to give up their, as it turns out, imported posh accents. Your last story of a Brexorcism (ph) comes from Yassir Lester.

YASSIR LESTER: Like a lot of countries, the U.K. is facing huge vaccine shortages. But unlike a lot of countries, they have a plan. They're using what supply they do have to vaccinate dogs, both those living at home and wild dogs roaming the streets and the countryside - not because dogs are objectively better than humans but to save humans.

Dogs, by nature, are one of the highest aerosol-producing animals on the planet, so allowing their microscopic saliva to fill the air may not stop COVID in its tracks out in the open but, if inhaled by humans, can give them the antibodies needed to fight off more of the virus than they would've without it. Dogs are basically being used as vaccine spreaders thanks to their heavy breathing, which, while disgusting, does hurt less than a shot.

The new protocol, of course, has animal activists, COVID deniers and vaccine chasers equally in an uproar, the deniers being potentially forced to inhale a medication for an illness they do not believe exists, the animal activists upset that the dogs didn't consent to vaccinations and the vaccine chasers furious that they have been denied while, quote, unquote, "some guy's pet" gets the shot before they do.

SAGAL: All right, then. Here are your choices. From Tom Papa, a new policy to just, you know, ignore those expiration dates on your cans and boxes of food - I'm sure they're fine - because they may not be in the supply. From Jessi Klein, Britons having to return their accents from the foreign countries from which they were borrowed. Or from Yassir Lester, vaccinating dogs instead of people so as to spread the vaccine to everybody the dogs slobber on. Which of these is the real story of coping with Brexit?

PALMER: Well, as much as I would like Jessi's story to be true and for some Brits giving up their accent to speak Midwestern, I think I'd probably have to go with the first story about ignoring expiration dates.

SAGAL: Right. So you're going to choose Tom Papa's story about people being encouraged to ignore those pesky and meaningless expiration dates. Well, to bring you the real story, we spoke to someone pretty familiar with it.


EMILY BROAD LEIB: Don't be afraid to taste it and smell it. You know, if it tastes and smells fine, then it's fine.

SAGAL: That was Dr. Emily Broad Leib. She's the director of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, talking about the U.K. plan for old food and assuring you, yeah, it's fine - really. So, yes, Tom had the real story, as you so astutely figured out. You've won our game, the voice of anyone you might choose on your voicemail and also a point for Tom just for calmly telling you the truth.

PALMER: Awesome. Thanks so much, Peter.

SAGAL: Thanks so much for playing.

PALMER: Bye-bye.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.


LYNYRD SKYNYRD: (Singing) Ooh, that smell - can't you smell that smell? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.