No. 416: "Key Words"

No. 416: "Key Words"

No. 416: "Key Words"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
April 14 2000 3:00 AM

No. 416: "Key Words"

Fill in the blank as congressman David Dreier, a California Republican, responds to demonstrators: "A few thousand people bused to Washington today by the A.F.L.-C.I.O. can't change the fact that the sky is blue, the earth is round and ___________ is the key to the United States creating 20 million new jobs." 


Send your answer by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to

Wednesday's Question (No. 415)—"States? Right.":

On Wednesday, 36 governors will deliver a blistering attack on a congressional proposal that "would substantially interfere with state sovereignty." What proposal?

"Powerball USA."—Evan Cornog


"President Kofi Annan."—David Feige

"Alternate-day-of-week executions."—Larry Amoros

"Congress, at the gentle prodding of Ralph Reed, has passed a non-binding resolution urging New Hampshire to change its motto from 'Live Free or Die' to 'Where Do You Want To Go Today?' "—John Leary

"Oh, something something education something welfare something. Look, there's a dog on television that can play the accordion!"—Tim Carvell


Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

In his elegant book A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government Garry Wills challenges many national myths—that the minutemen, not the Continental Army, won the Revolutionary War; that checks and balances were intended to make government inefficient; that the giant stone heads of Dolly Madison that dot our seacoast were placed there by space aliens. (While he doesn't argue this last point explicitly, his implication is clear. Particularly when you don an aluminum foil hat.) Wills also refutes the idea of state sovereignty, quoting President Lincoln:

Our states have neither more nor less power than that reserved to them in the Union by the Constitution—no one of them ever having been a state out of Union. The original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their British colonial dependence; and the new ones each came into the Union directly from a condition of dependence, excepting Texas. And even Texas, in its temporary independence, was never designated a state.


It is impressive that Lincoln wrote these words without ever seeing the legislators' cafeteria in the Austin Statehouse on all-you-can-eat ribs night, perhaps the most powerful argument against state sovereignty. On the other hand, he couldn't have foreseen Monkey Rodeo, where these little monkeys in cowboy hats ride these big dogs: It's just so cute. Surely any state that could produce such a spectacle deserves sovereignty. Perhaps they could be ruled by Queen Monkey and dot the Gulf Coast with giant stone statues of their simian monarch, when the saucers return and share this wondrous technology, which, if I grasp Wills' thesis—and I don't—is what the founding fathers intended.

Unleash the Power of the Internet and Shopping Especially Shopping—Who Doesn't Like Shopping?—Answer

The governors detest—entirely as a matter of principle—the Internet tax commission's report that proposes continuing the tax-free status of online sales. This has nothing to do with money. There are lofty issues here. I really mean it.

The tax exemption would be limited to businesses that operate only online. That is, it would include Amazon but not Barnes and Noble, which has actual stores.


The governors, Democrats and Republicans, most of whom have reputations as tax-cutters, signed a letter saying that Congress should not interfere with a state's right to set tax policy. In other words, it's the states, not Congress, that should not tax the Net.

"The U.S. Constitution was very clear in both ensuring state sovereignty and creating a critical balance between federal and state authority," the letter reads in part. "And that goes double when you're downloading porn," it does not add.

Among the nonsignatories—the Bush brothers, New York's Pataki, California's Davis, and Virginia's Gilmore, the head of the tax commission.

Sorry Extra

Which of the following apologies are authentic and which are merely long overdue?

  1. "It's an error that we regret."—Century Strategies is sorry Ralph Reed was lobbying Gov. Bush's campaign while he was one of its advisers.
  2. "Sorry about the CDs."—Rex Reed is sorry that Ralph Reed's mischief has recalled his to mind.
  3. [We regret the] "isolated instances of inadequately documented expenditures and other record-keeping issues."—David Ventker, a director of the charity Operation Smile, probably feels pretty bad about the "assembly-line medicine" that caused all the dead and mutilated kids. You can tell. If you read between the lines.
  4. "This was a catastrophic systems failure."—A senior official of something or other is sorry about that computer failure that kept him from checking those spy satellite photos. But wouldn't it be funny if it were some actress you disliked apologizing for her Oscar dress? How comical that would be!
  5. "Sorry I had the cops stop and frisk you black folks for being—wadda ya call it?—black."—Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, but he stresses that the thousands of people stopped really did look just like the suspect who waswadda ya call itblack. Coulda been twins. Thousands and thousands of twins.
  6. "Sorry we air such crap."—Some guy at Fox TV, but he was paid to say this to perpetuate the myth that by comparison the stuff they're producing at the other networks is like ancient Athens or something.
  7. "The government is done fighting the workers and now we're going to help them."—(If all else fails.) Energy Secretary Bill Richardson feels awful about the horrible diseases workers got at the nuclear weapons plants. The radiation, the toxic chemicalsterrible!


1, 3, 4, and 7 are pretty much authentic.

Common Denominator

The 13th Amendment.