No. 421: "From TV to Shining TV"

No. 421: "From TV to Shining TV"

No. 421: "From TV to Shining TV"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
April 25 2000 3:00 AM

No. 421: "From TV to Shining TV"

Complete this remark Attorney General Janet Reno made at Saturday morning's press conference, while little Elián was on a plane headed for Andrews Air Force Base to be reunited with his father: "One of the beauties of television is that it _______________."


Send your answer by noon ET Tuesday to

Thursday's Question (No. 420)—"Rush to Judgment":

In this klassic komedy multiple-choice question, you provide the "c," just like a pro.

Addressing the Supreme Court Wednesday, Solicitor General Seth Waxman said, "[It] has proven workable, and its benefits to the administration of justice have been repeatedly emphasized by this court."


"It" is:

a) A little catnap while some gasbag lawyer is yakking away.

b) The swift execution of inmates who get "too sassy."

c) _____________ .


"The rights of kidnapped 6-year-olds to be hidden by fishermen in the closets of the homes of their great uncles without being bothered by a lot of jackbooted thugs enforcing some stupid 'law.' "—Chris Kelly

"Seating of jurors who can tell a guilty man 'just by lookin at 'im.' "—Charles Star

"Pasties and G-strings, already reducing crime after just a few weeks."—Colin Rafferty

"Have no idea, but just wanted to tip my hat to the tremendous improvements in bowling technology that we enjoy today."—Barbara Lippert


"And now, for my next trick, I will blindly open the dictionary and point to a random word and somehow incorporate it into an answer to this question. See if you can spot it: frequent breaks to view porn on the Internet, including Scalia's favorite site, 'Hot Antiferromagnetic Teens.' "—Francis Heaney

Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Despite frequent entreaties, the Supreme Court continues to prohibit the televising of its arguments. English journalists faced a similar problem in the 18th century when the House of Commons forbade the reporting of its speeches. This stricture was circumvented by the Gentleman's Magazine, which ran a regular feature called "Debates in the Senate of Magna Lilliputia" using satirical and easily recognizable names. For a two-and-a-half-year stretch, Dr. Johnson wrote the feature himself—nearly half a million words—without ever sitting in the gallery, relying on the cursory notes assistants provided him. His speed of composition was astonishing: He often turned out 1,800 words in an hour. Even more amazing was the quality of the writing. Johnson, then in his early 30s, daily composed entire speeches for the greatest orators of his era, speeches that were by all accounts brilliantly articulate and that were never disavowed by those to whom they were more or less attributed. He was also praised for his evenhandedness, putting eloquent words in the mouths of his political foes as well as his allies. "That is not quite true," he demurred. "I saved appearances tolerably well; but I took particular care that the Whig dogs should not have the best of it."


Something similar could be tried on Court TV. Each night, they could re-create that day's Supreme Court arguments using transcripts and actors. There would be room for a certain amount of dramatic range and editorializing—"Rehnquist" could wear something far more baroque than his Gilbert and Sullivan robes; "Scalia" could be given a saucy French accent; "Thomas" could doze openly like the dormouse at the mad tea party. Or actual human actors could be abandoned in favor of talented performing dogs, with off-camera voice-over. And way over in the corner, we'd see a little Dahlia Lithwick, peering out from behind a column.

You Have the Right To Remain for This Answer

The Miranda warning.

The 34-year old announcement of a suspect's rights to silence and to be represented by an attorney faces a challenge from a rarely invoked 1968 law by which Congress sought to overturn it.

Court-watchers notebook: The New York Times ran a full page of highlights from the arguments, during which eight of the nine justices questioned the attorneys. Characteristically silent—or perhaps asleep, or maybe dead (I've not seen him in a clinical setting)—throughout, Justice Thomas.

Augmented Quotations Extra

(Each final sentence added by News Quiz.)

"He was a very, very religious man. He was a man that I had conversations about Jesus, about God with. He was a man who stole $2 million from the members of his own union, most of whom make under $20,000 a year, so you see, God, like me, is anti-union."—Rudolph Giuliani discusses convicted felon Charles Hughes, about the only man in the labor movement who will even talk to him.

"Tell me the sense of a system where it is easier to get a marriage license than it is to get a hunting or a driver's license. You get your gun, drive to the church, and you can't even shoot the bride; she's long gone: It's nuts!"—Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating discusses his state's marriage training programs.

"Sometimes you grow up with an insatiable greed for things, for material things. So you either rob every cafeteria worker and crossing guard in your union or run for governor of Louisiana, for which you don't even need a license."—Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Magner discusses Gov. Edwin Edwards, on trial again.

"He had a history of compromising a large number of machines. But I think a lot of them were drunk and kind of, you know, asking for it, like those cafeteria workers and crossing guards."—Computer security expert Joel de la Garza discusses "Mafiaboy," the kid who shut down Yahoo!, et al.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Monkey Ongoing Extra

Dead at 27, Michael, a lowland gorilla, one of only two of his species to have learned human language. A resident of the Gorilla Foundation near San Francisco, Michael mastered more than 500 gestures in American Sign Language. "He had a great facility with gestural communication and was a talented artist," said Francine Patterson, president of the foundation. Michael is survived by Koko, the other gorilla linguist.

What were Michael's last words?

(I don't want to tease you to a frenzied state of anti-climax, so let me be frank: No one knows what his last words were. Participants are invited to speculate irresponsibly. Responses to run Thursday.)

Common Denominator

Naked under black robes.