9:30pm

Fri February 15, 2013
Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Al Gore Plays Not My Job

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 10:35 am

Since Al Gore's term as the 45th vice president of the United States ended in 2001, he has starred in an Oscar-winning documentary, won a Grammy Award and received the Nobel Peace Prize. But obviously he won't be satisfied until he wins the NPR news quiz, so we've invited him to play a game called "Maybe you can beat Bill Clinton at this."

Back in 2011, Clinton appeared on Wait Wait and correctly answered three questions about the My Little Pony children's TV show. We're going to ask Gore three questions about actual little ponies.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

And now, the game where we ask unimportant people about important things. No, wait a minute, that's the rest of the show. This part's different. Al Gore served as the 45th Vice President of the United States. And since he left that office, he has starred in an Oscar-winning documentary and won a Grammy and the Nobel Peace Prize. I guess he just...

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: I guess he just still wasn't satisfied until he won our game, so we're pleased to welcome him now. Al Gore, welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

(APPLAUSE)

AL GORE: Thank you. Thank you.

SAGAL: So you have won an Oscar and a Grammy and an Emmy, which I didn't mention, and a Nobel Prize. Tell me, Mr. Gore, is there anything you haven't won?

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Well, you know, I was disappointed about the Heisman for each of the last few years.

SAGAL: You were disappointed about the Heisman. Yeah, I don't know. I think if Manti Te'o could have been a finalist, I think you could have been.

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Yeah.

SAGAL: It does seem that, you know, we all remember 2000 and the somewhat disappointing result for you.

GORE: Somewhat disappointing.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I was pleased to see that you got a medal for participation, though, which I thought was very kind of the Supreme Court.

GORE: Yeah, this self-esteem movement has really gotten out of hand.

SAGAL: I have a serious question about this because I read...

GORE: That's hard to believe.

SAGAL: I know. I do.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I read that soon after the election, or the Supreme Court decision, or whatever you want to call it, you had a meeting with soon to be President Bush, in the Oval Office. So I guess it must have been after his inauguration. What was that meeting like?

GORE: No, actually, we did not meet in the Oval Office until quite a few years later. We had a brief meeting during the transition period, after the Supreme Court decision, at the VP house. And, you know, it was a perfectly pleasant meeting. I mean, I did a lot of research and I did confirm that there's no intermediate step between a final Supreme Court decision and violent revolution.

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: It was a very cordial meeting.

SAGAL: Really? He was nice.

GORE: Yeah, yeah, I was, too.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Which I'm sure everybody appreciated. So we wanted to go back a little bit into the life and legend of Al Gore. We've all heard some of the stories. We know, for example, that your college roommate at Harvard was Tommy Lee Jones.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: But we understand that you guys were pretty competitive at Harvard. Is that true?

GORE: That is true.

SAGAL: Well, how did you express that competitive spirit?

GORE: Well, in multiple ways. Well, gosh, I can't tell all these stories, for god's sake.

(LAUGHTER)

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Just one of them.

SAGAL: Just one of them.

GORE: We were both southern boys. And at one point, when we were freshmen, we got into a knife throwing contest.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIAN BABYLON: Like all southern boys do.

GORE: Well, if you can't, you know, if you can't go hunting, then you might as well. And I shudder to this day to see the results of that knife throwing contest on a particular tree in the Harvard yard.

SAGAL: Really?

GORE: It did survive, that's the good news. But, yeah, we were quite competitive. True story.

BABYLON: You know what, that might be the new Olympic competition.

SAGAL: Absolutely.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BABYLON: Knife chucking.

LUKE BURBANK: Only at Harvard would you walk by a couple of guys chucking knives at a tree and one of them becomes vice president and the other is nominated for an Oscar.

SAGAL: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: I want to ask you, it's just between us. You must have looked...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Nobody listens to this thing. During the Bush administration, there must have been times when you said to yourself, or at least said to the TV screen "told you." Just a little?

GORE: No. I mean, look, I'm sorry to be serious on you too much, but...

SAGAL: I'm so surprised that that's your choice, but go on.

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I know. I mean they used to say during - when I was vice president, how do you tell the difference between Al Gore and a room full of Secret Service agents? He's the stiff one.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: We didn't realize you heard that. I'm feeling bad now.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Actually, I do want to ask you about that, because you did have that reputation. And you were a national figure for so long and people made these jokes about you. Did they ever bother you? Speaking as someone who makes jokes about national figures.

GORE: Oh, no.

SAGAL: Really? Honestly?

GORE: Oh, no.

BABYLON: Because you're a very funny guy. You just made three quality jokes, just in the five minutes.

GORE: Well, I benefit from low expectations but...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: When you were hearing all the guys going...

GORE: You know, one of the lines was that Al Gore is so boring that his Secret Service code name was Al Gore.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Haven't you ever wanted to like, you know, just go out there and cut it up and you know? It never bothered...

GORE: Excuse me; I'm doing WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

SAGAL: That's true. That's true. We're doing what we can for you.

(LAUGHTER)

BABYLON: I've been waiting to ask you this question for a while, Al Gore. Should I feel bad when it's a nice warm day in December in Chicago?

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Yeah. I love these jokes about global warming, I really do.

SAGAL: I'm sure you do.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I have to say, I've been reading your book this week. You have a new book called "The Future," and it's not just about climate change, although that plays a part. It's about a lot of other trends that you see happening in the world. Not many of them are very good. Can you tell us some good things that are going to happen in the future?

GORE: Yeah, there are a lot of good things in it. And some reviewers have said I'm overly optimistic. All of these drivers of global change are right about bring both opportunity and some perils. And the underlying theme is that we as human beings have to be conscious and participate in making choices.

And we as Americans particularly have to rise to the occasion because there is no other country that can provide leadership in the world at a time when leadership is greatly needed.

SAGAL: Well...

ROBERTS: Don't you think he sounded like a politician there?

SAGAL: You just did.

ROBERTS: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You didn't take a breath during that whole thing.

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: I calculated that that was my 20 seconds to make the pitch to get people to buy my new book.

SAGAL: I understand that.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: I appreciate it.

GORE: Enough with the frivolity already, buy my book.

SAGAL: Sell some books. I mean, it does seem that you've made a career of delivering, well, bad news, or at least urging us to take action to avoid disaster. You ever think of doing something a little lighter in your public career?

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Well, that's really the reason why I accepted your invitation to come on the show.

SAGAL: I understand.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right, and one more question. Have you ever heard - this is a fairly important question. Have you ever heard comedian Ed Helms do his gay Al Gore impression?

GORE: No, I would love to.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, what do you know, we just happen to have some tape of him doing it on this show.

ED HELMS: Yeah.

SAGAL: We heard that you do, and I don't know how you come up with this, a gay Al Gore.

(LAUGHTER)

HELMS: Right. If I were elected president...

(LAUGHTER)

HELMS: I would make absolutely certain that patent leather stiletto heels came in men's sizes.

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Oh, that's very funny, very funny.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, Al Gore, we have invited you here to play a game we're calling?

CARL KASELL: Maybe you can beat Bill Clinton at this.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You may remember that your former boss Bill Clinton came on this show and correctly answered three questions about the children's TV show "My Little Pony." Well, Al Gore, we are going to ask you about actual little ponies.

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Oh.

SAGAL: Answer two of these questions correctly; you'll win our game. Answer three of them correctly; you'll never have to play second banana to that guy again.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Ready to play?

GORE: I'm ready.

SAGAL: First, who is Al Gore playing for, Carl?

KASELL: Peter, he is playing for Elliott Lapson Brown of Minneapolis.

SAGAL: There you go.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Now, are you ready...

GORE: OK, Elliott, I'm trying to get you Carl's voice on your answering machine.

SAGAL: Well done.

GORE: I'm ready.

SAGAL: Here we go. Here's your first question. Shetland ponies have made their way to Hollywood, starring in which of these films? Was it A: "The Adventures of Ragtime," which more than one reviewer described as "Home Alone" but with a Shetland pony?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: B: "Holy Shetland," an early 60s sitcom about a pony that dresses like a nun and teaches at a Catholic school? Or C: "Yay or Neigh," a documentary about the first Shetland pony elected to the British Parliament?

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Are those the only three choices?

SAGAL: Those are, in fact, the only choices.

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Oh, I'm going with A.

SAGAL: A, "The Adventures of Ragtime." "Home Alone" with a Shetland pony?

GORE: Yeah.

SAGAL: Yes, you're right, exactly right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: A fine film. Second question. Doing very well so far. Shetland ponies have caused problems, though, as in which of these real incidents? Was it A: in 2011, one farmer complained that his horses had developed, quote, self-image issues, because they constantly compared themselves to his tiny Shetland pony?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: In 2009, a Shetland pony in England prompted several calls to authorities from people who thought it was a regular pony which had sunk in the mud?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Or C: the infamous Shetland Seven, a gang of robbers who rode ponies to and from their crimes?

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: I'm going with B.

SAGAL: You're going to go with B, the Shetland pony in England. Yes, that's right. That's the right answer.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Whoa, rocketing through this. All right, here's your last question. Get this right and you're perfect. Of course, advertisers have tried to capitalize on the adorable use of Shetland ponies as in which of these?

A: a tourism ad for Scotland, which showed Shetland ponies in sweaters that, quote, "wouldn't seem out of place in any trendy city hangout." B: A Burger King ad that said: if we were going to use horsemeat, wouldn't we use adorable horsemeat?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Or C: a Go Daddy ad in which a nerdy teen made out with a Shetland pony?

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Wow, that's a tough one. I'll go with A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with A, tourism ad for Scotland with Shetland ponies in sweaters?

GORE: I've actually seen that ad.

SAGAL: Then you know you're right, very good.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Wow. Carl, how did former vice president Gore do on our quiz?

KASELL: Al Gore, you had three correct answers, a perfect game, perfect score, so you win for Elliott Lapson Brown.

SAGAL: Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

BURBANK: Well, sort of, Mr. Vice President, because the Republicans have challenged the results of this quiz.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: It's going to be kind of played out in the courts.

GORE: Oh, you're not going to recount this.

SAGAL: We are.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Justice Scalia is bursting into the theater.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It's terrible. Oh my gosh. Al Gore is the former vice president. He starred in an Oscar-winning film and he's the author of the new book, "The Future." Vice President Gore, thank you so much for joining us. What a joy to talk to you.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.