Not My Job: Consultant James Carville Gets Quizzed On Couples

Sep 28, 2013
Originally published on January 2, 2014 12:48 pm

James Carville is a Democratic political consultant, a TV pundit, and one half of the most famous mixed marriage in the country — his wife is Republican consultant Mary Matalin.

We've invited him to play a game called "You're like two peas in a pod!" Three questions about freakishly similar couples.

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And now the game where those who are successful at something important try not to fail at something stupid.


SAGAL: James Carville is a political consultant, a TV pundit, and one half of the most famous mixed marriage in the country along with Republican consultant Mary Matalin. He is a proud graduate of LSU here in Baton Rouge...


SAGAL: And we are pleased to have him here. James Carville, welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

JAMES CARVILLE: (Unintelligible).


SAGAL: So this whole ragin' Cajun thing you've got going, not an act. You're from around here, right?

CARVILLE: Yeah. Well, my mother is from Avoyelles Parish, which is famous because the sheriff once spent time in his own jail.

SAGAL: Did he really?



CARVILLE: A legendary man named Potch Didier was the sheriff, and he was sentenced to jail. He spent time in his own jail in Avoyelles.

SAGAL: I'm sure that made some unusual - around here only in that he was caught.


CARVILLE: Yeah, he was caught. He probably made a mistake or two along the way, you know. And I grew up about 20, 25 miles south of here, right on the river.

SAGAL: Right. Where did you grow up?

CARVILLE: I grew up in Carville, Louisiana.

SAGAL: You grew up in Carville, Louisiana?


SAGAL: Is everybody here from a town with the same name as they are?


CARVILLE: Well, actually what happened is it used to be called (unintelligible), and my great-grandmother was the postmistress, and my grandfather was the postmaster, and the mail kept getting mixed up. So the post office named it Carville after him. And my daddy was the postmaster. So I come from a long line of bureaucrats.

SAGAL: I see.


SAGAL: So how did you - now you came here to Baton Rouge, went to LSU.

CARVILLE: I did, I did. I went for about 13 years or so. I loved it.


SAGAL: We should say that that's because you also went to the law school, as well.

CARVILLE: I did, and I had a - I went in the Marine Corps. I took a little break. And I had some difficulties with my grades sometimes.

SAGAL: Did you really?

CARVILLE: Oh, you know.

SAGAL: Really, was it so hard for you at LSU that you thought the Marine Corps would be an easier time?


CARVILLE: Well, I had to balance, you know, the French Quarter and the bingo and the tiger and the Cotton Club, and there was a lot of temptations around here, you know.


SAGAL: I can imagine.

BRIAN BABYLON: Hey, Peter, I have a question. So when you came from Carville to the - I guess Baton Rouge would be the big city...


BABYLON: Was it like - was it mind-blowing? How did you relate to that?

CARVILLE: All right, (unintelligible) I grew up like 20, 25, 20, 25 miles south of here, but when I came to LSU, I went to Catholic school, and then I came to LSU, and you just - the visuals for a guy like me were stunning, you know.


CARVILLE: And I didn't say - I didn't call much. I didn't say no to much. I pretty much, you know, took the whole thing in.

SAGAL: Yeah, you weren't saving yourself for...

CARVILLE: No, no, no, no, none of that stuff.

SAGAL: You weren't preserving your virtue in any way.

CARVILLE: I always joke with my children, I tell them that, you know, daddy had a 4.0 on graduation day, and they go oh, dad, you didn't. I said sure I did. It was my blood alcohol level.



SAGAL: So if I understand the story, you came back from the Marine Corps, you became a lawyer in Baton Rouge...

CARVILLE: Yeah, that's a rough definition of what I was. But I did, I went to law school, and I passed the bar.

SAGAL: Well, you became well-known to the American public not just because of the Clinton campaign in 1992, where you helped him get elected president, but also the movie that came out, "The War Room," that kind of made you into a celebrity. What was it like in those early days working with Clinton, I mean before he became, you know, Bill Clinton as we all know him now?

CARVILLE: Well, you know, first of all, you know, I went to work, and the next thing you know, you know, Gennifer Flowers, and then we had the draft story, and then we had this. I mean, we kind of went from one crisis to another. But then you (unintelligible) to New Hampshire, like you talk about Vermont, it was so cold. This is a true story.

SAGAL: How cold was it?

CARVILLE: I will tell you how cold it was.

SAGAL: Please do.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you. The people from Arkansas were up there, and they decided that they were going to roast a pig. They love pigs in Arkansas, you know, razorback. And it was so cold the fire couldn't thaw the pig.


CARVILLE: That's how cold it was.

SAGAL: That's pretty cold.

CARVILLE: Yeah, that was cold when the fire can't thaw the pig. That's how cold...

SAGAL: I'm actually, I'm curious because...

TOM BODETT: I hope that wasn't a fundraiser.


CARVILLE: I was the only guy in the campaign that would say up in Arkansas.


SAGAL: Well, you guys in Arkansas are Yankees to him. Since 1992, you spent most of your time working as a consultant for campaigns in foreign countries.


SAGAL: How can that be possible? How can a guy from Carville, Louisiana, say, work on an Israeli election?

CARVILLE: Well, I figured the secret out in Israel. We had to concentrate on the Jewish vote.

SAGAL: Oh, yeah, that's very important.


CARVILLE: You know, if you didn't do that, you wasn't going to win.


CARVILLE: Actually, I did a race in Nigeria one time. I said now, we got to get the black for use, you understand, we've got to target this important group here.

SAGAL: And that's how you earn your money.

CARVILLE: I said, that kind of insight you just don't get anywhere.



SAGAL: James Carville, we are delighted to talk to you. We have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

CARL KASELL: You're like two peas in a pod.

SAGAL: OK, you famously have a mixed marriage, Democrat and Republican, hairless and haired. But it turns out there are a lot of couples who are very much alike, maybe even too alike, and we're going to ask you three questions about freakishly similar couples. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl's voice on their home voicemail. Carl, who is James Carville playing for?

KASELL: James Carville is playing for Ann Edelman of Baton Rouge.


CARVILLE: Oh, good. My (unintelligible).

SAGAL: All right, first question, here we go. So if you want to find someone to date who looks like you, who looks like you, you have some options, such as which of these: A, body-type theme nights at your local T.G.I. Fridays, such as Ectomorph Night; B, find Your Facemate, a website that lets you upload a photo so it finds automatically someone who looks like you that you can then date; or C, just attend any comic book convention.


CARVILLE: What was the second one?

SAGAL: The second one is you go to You can upload a picture, and its algorithm finds other people who have uploaded pictures that look like you.

CARVILLE: All right, I'll go with two.

SAGAL: You're going to go with two? You're right, that's the one, find your facemate.



CARVILLE: That's a good sign. We're going to beat Georgia.


SAGAL: Very good, very good, OK. Next question. Donald and Nancy Featherstone are famous for having worn matching clothes every day for the last 33 years: shirts, suits, pajamas, everything. They make it themselves. But that is not the Featherstones' only claim to fame.

How else have they made their mark: A, Donald Featherstone invented the pink plastic lawn Flamingo; B, Nancy Featherstone has won the Coney Island hot dog eating contest six times; or C, they met when he ran her over with his Zamboni machine.


CARVILLE: Again I'm going with logic again, C.

SAGAL: You're going to go for C? Wait a minute, logic leads you.


CARVILLE: Well, it's more logical, she didn't win the Coney Island because it's somebody from Japan that wins it every year.

SAGAL: Yeah. OK. So all right, so you're going to go for the Zamboni.

CARVILLE: I'm going to go for the Zamboni.

SAGAL: No, although that would have been awesome. He's riding along, and he feels a bump, and he looks back, and she's frozen in the ice, and he says how beautiful. No, it was actually, A, Donald Featherstone invented the pink flamingo back in 1957 in his first year out of art school.


SAGAL: That's OK because you've got one more to go. If you get this, you win, all right. This is the deciding vote. Here we go. Husband and wife Michael Roach and Christy McNally were very much in love. So when they got married in 1998 they decided to do what: A, never swallow a piece of food that hadn't been first chewed by the other; B, never be more than 15 feet from each other; C, never speak except in unison?


CARVILLE: B is what?

SAGAL: B is never be more than 15 feet from each other.


SAGAL: You're going to go for B, never be more than 15 feet from each other?


SAGAL: You're right, that's how they did it.



SAGAL: They were never...

CARVILLE: I am pumped. I'm pumped.

SAGAL: They did it; they did it. They stayed within 15 feet of each other all day, all night, every day, every night, and the marriage was very happy until they got divorced in 2010.


SAGAL: So Carl, how did James...?

CARVILLE: I've got - can I tell you one thing?

SAGAL: Tell me one thing.

CARVILLE: He didn't eat a lot of beans.


SAGAL: No, or they didn't mind.

BABYLON: Did they really get divorced?

SAGAL: They really did. Goes to...



SAGAL: They wanted their space, I guess. They decided to go in a different direction. I don't know. Carl, how did James Carville do on our show?

KASELL: James had two correct answers, Peter, so he wins for Ann Edelman, congratulations.

SAGAL: Well done.


SAGAL: James Carville is a professor of Political Science at Tulane University. His latest book, "Love and War," co-authored with wife Mary Matalin will be out in January. James Carville, thank you so much for being on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Thank you so much.


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