What Prompted Michelle's Inauguration Eye-Roll?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 23 2013 11:08 AM

Boehner Denies Eye-Roll -Inducing Joke Was About What We All Want To Believe It Was About

President Barack Obama shares a moment with House Speaker John Boehner as first lady Michelle Obama applauds at the Inaugural Luncheon in Statuary Hall on Inauguration Day at the U.S. Capitol building
President Barack Obama shares a moment with House Speaker John Boehner as first lady Michelle Obama applauds at the Inaugural Luncheon in Statuary Hall on Inauguration Day at the U.S. Capitol building

Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images.

Chances are, we'll never know for certain what House Speaker John Boehner said to the president on Inauguration Day to prompt Michelle Obama to roll her eyes and shake her head (setting off one of many fleetingly popular memes of the day), but that won't stop inquiring minds from treating footage of the lunchtime incident as a modern-day Zapruder film. CBS's Inside Edition went ahead and brought in a lip-reading expert to try to solve the mystery:

So what was said? We asked expert lip reader Larry Wenig. Wenig believes John Boehner is asking President Obama whether he had a chance to have a cigarette before the luncheon. ... Our lip reader, Wenig, caught Boehner saying, "Somebody won’t let you do it," referring to Michelle, which prompted the first lady’s big eye-roll.
Advertisement

The president famously quit smoking three years ago (something he's admitted to struggling to stick with), while Boehner is known for being something of a chain smoker. So if nothing else, the alleged joke would certainly appear plausible. But when asked by The Hill's gossip blogger Judy Kurtz if the lip-reader had cracked the code, a spokesman for the House speaker responded with a short and sweet email: "This is not true," effectively ruining everyone's fun.

For those of you who want to play amateur detective, you can check out the moment in question below and take to the Comments with your best guesses. The rest of you, however, should probably get back to trying to solve our other national mystery of the moment: Whether Beyoncé lip-synced or not.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 3:19 PM In Defense of Congress Leaving Town Without a New War Vote
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 5:09 PM Three CEOs Step Down in 30 Minutes
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 5:43 PM Oracle’s Larry Ellison Steps Down, Will Be Replaced by Hurd’n’Catz
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.