No. 397: "Pro-Procrastination"

No. 397: "Pro-Procrastination"

No. 397: "Pro-Procrastination"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
March 10 2000 3:00 AM

No. 397: "Pro-Procrastination"

"This is going to cost $30 billion, and there has been no national debate," said Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, listing two of the reasons President Clinton should delay a decision on deploying a national missile-defense system. What is another of Biden's objections?

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Send your answer by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to newsquiz@slate.com.

Wednesday's Question (No. 396)—"True Concessions":

Praising his supporters for all they'd accomplished, Bill Bradley said: "Despite our lack of victory tonight, there's so much that every one of you who became a part of our campaign has to be proud of." Like what?

"Free doughnuts and coffee in the staff room?"—Steven Kiefer

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"No one has shown any of our colons on television."—Greg Diamond

"By their joining the rolls of the unemployed tomorrow, perhaps Greenspan will keep rates where they are."—Brooke Saucier

"We did not stoop to the level of the corrupt and venal politics of my opponent, whom we will wholeheartedly support in the November race."—Daniel Barenholtz

"Helping to raise awareness of … you know, helping to shape the national debate on ... hmm. Collaborative solving of the New York Times Sunday crossword?"—Francis Heaney

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Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Much was made of Bill Bradley's years as a successful basketball player (as opposed to his years as a lackluster senator) being comically inappropriate preparation for the presidency, as if it were presumptuous for any athlete even to consider such an office. This seems slightly priggish. After all, Congress includes former actors, an exterminator, and a topless dancer. (Or perhaps Sen. Trent Lott only dreamed of being a topless dancer, and in any case, that's between him and his therapist, and as long as he stays on his medication, it's not any of our business, not that he's on any medication or seeing a therapist. And not that he shouldn't. And soon.) Of course, the occupation most of our presidents practiced before ascending to the White House was lawyer, a dismal fact that no doubt explains a great deal. The World Book Encyclopedia, in all its prissy glory, lists Thomas Jefferson as "planter"—so much more genteel than "slave driver" and more hoity-toity than its characterization of James Buchanan as "farmer," which, presumably, is a planter who actually plants. Zachary Taylor is called a soldier, and Andrew Johnson is called a tailor rather than the uglier things he'd be called after taking office. Woodrow Wilson is an educator, ever so much grander than teacher. Harding is an editor; Hoover, an engineer; and Truman, a businessman. For extra credit, what was JFK's pre-politics occupation? (See below for answer.)

Pride of (Second) Place Answer

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Bradley urged his supporters to take pride in the fact that: "We've shaped the national debate in this campaign. We've brought core Democratic issues to the floor."

Among the issues Bradley thinks of himself as raising—health insurance and campaign-finance reform. A little more credibly, he also mentions racial justice and children living in poverty. (He is, apparently, for the first, against the second.)

Still, about the dead one should speak only good. And when he dies, I will, the fatuous old blowhard.

Ann Gavaghan Sends Us to the Countryside for Re-education Extra

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The Taiwanese presidential election is on March 18, China's threatening to drop bombs, and all we can talk about is McCain and Bradley? Let's get some world perspective into News Quiz and make fun of Lien Chan's ass for a change.

Augmented Quotations Extra

(Each final sentence added by News Quiz.)

  • "Single mothers can pay a higher marginal rate than the prosperous. And I intend to keep it that way!"—Giddy with victory, G.W. Bush talks taxes.
  • "I propose boosting the federal investment in technology research so that we can create gun detectors that scan city streets and pinpoint guns, reducing the need for stop and frisk. And some kind of education ray, reducing the need for decent schools."—Hillary Clinton suggests space-age solutions to recalcitrant social problems.
  • "David feels the book impugns his integrity to a level that's not true. Here in Hollywood, we prefer that lies be kept more within the kind of truish range."—Terry Press, David Geffen's press agent, disdains a new biography of his boss.
  • "I don't trust the police, and I don't think people can depend on them for protection or to solve a crime. And, surprisingly, I live in neither New York nor Los Angeles!"—Kyoto food vendor Toshiji Okada becomes a global citizen.
  • "China now has the best human rights situation in its history. And our pizza—mamma mia, she's-a good!"—Shen Guofang, China's deputy representative to the United Nations assesses his nation's progress in various areas.
  • "I believe our nation is chosen by God. And my necktie was selected by the angel Gabriel."—At the Simon Weisenthal Center, a yarmulke-wearing G.W. Bush offers his vision for a new theocratic America.

Brown & Williamson Tobacco Songbook Extra

Dial (800) 578-7453, and Brown & Williamson Tobacco will play you an amusing song about smoking and ask you to devise a better one, a challenge taken up by those below. By which I mean by those who've died of lung cancer with a song on their lips. And also by quiz participants:

Oh, the tobacco plant is a lovely plant
To a lonely rebellious teen
I hope I can quit someday and not have to
Press the button for my own morphine.
Colleen Werthmann

Oh we grow this wonderful plant
It only killed my aunt
It really ain't so bad
It only killed my dad.
Sophie Pollitt-Cohen

The tobacco plant's a hardworking plant
that'll make you look cool in her eyes.
Until the hike to the curb makes you wheeze and pant
and you begin to metastasize!
Beth Sherman

Puff the magic ciggy,
But wait a minute, son,
You cannot enjoy a drag
Until you're twenty-one.
Tamara Glenny

There's a tobacco rep who's sure all that's filtered is pure,
But he's building a stairway to cancer.
Now he tells the House committee that blackened lungs are pretty,
And he's building a stairway to cancer.
—Francis Heaney

This young man, he smoked one,
He'll smoke more before he's done,
'Cause a puff-puff's not enough, since that nicotine's
Addictive to adults (and teens).
ibid.

Smoke, smoke, smoke that fag
French it through your nose.
Ignoring, ignoring, ignoring, ignoring
Cardio-pulmonary woes.
Ken Richardson

Oh, what a beautiful morning
Oh, what a beautiful day,
We've got a glorious feeling,
Three thousands kids took up smoking today!
Gary Drevitch

Extra Credit Answer

Babe Magnet. No, no, no—the World Book lists JFK's job as "author."

Teddy Roosevelt, same thing.

Common Denominator

Apparently Bradley spent some time playing professional basketball.