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World Leader Pretend

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago this is WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. And here's your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in Chicago, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. Thanks everybody. One of the things we pride ourselves here at WAIT WAIT is opening a window to the world for you, the listeners.

KURTIS: And then scaring you so much you slam it shut and go back to binge watching "Cold Case Files" on Netflix. I'll tell you what, that's a quality program.


SAGAL: The first thing you need to know about world leaders is how to imitate them. Here's guest panelist Rosie Perez with some useful advice from a show we did in May.


KURTIS: Just because we have the best hammer, doesn't mean that every problem is a nail.

SAGAL: That was somebody saying just because you have a really big Army and an Air Force and some cool bombs that fly by themselves, you shouldn't always use them. Who was it?

REBECCA CROSE: (Laughter) I don't know.


SAGAL: That's surprising only because Bill's impression was so accurate.


AMY DICKINSON: It was scary.

ALONZO BODDEN: Yeah. It was like being in the room.

SAGAL: It really was.

>>DICKINSON. It really was. Yeah.

CROSE: My guess is it would be President Obama.

SAGAL: Yes it is President Obama.


SAGAL: The commander-in-chief, once again, attended a commencement at West Point. He likes to go there 'cause those are the only students he can order to let him do keg stands.


ROSIE PEREZ: I just want to make a comment on your impersonation of the president.

SAGAL: Yeah.

PEREZ: Next time, use a lot of pauses and a lot of uh. And then you'll be right on.


SAGAL: So hold on I - this - I think, Rosie...

PEREZ: Am I right?

DICKINSON: You should do it.

SAGAL: I think the nation clamors, Rosie, for your impression of President Obama right now.

DICKINSON: Can you do it?

PEREZ: Me doing an impersonation of the president? Come on.


SAGAL: Yes we can.


KURTIS: Every great country needs a great adversary, just like Spiderman and Giant Spider-Eating Birdman. Here's WAIT WAIT's coverage of America's most sinister opponent, Vladimir Putin.


CARL KASELL, BYLINE: Your humble servant was not elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to someone.

SAGAL: That was somebody explaining why he wasn't going to be pleasant to President Obama this week. Who is it?

BENNETT ULMER: Would that have been Vladimir Putin?

SAGAL: Yes, indeed, Vladimir Putin.


SAGAL: A lot of Putin fans here, that's great. He does look good with his shirt off.

ADAM FELBER: Yeah, he does.

SAGAL: Mr. Putin, to use the delicate, subtle language of diplomacy, is a pain in the ass. He is blocking the UN from taking action on Syria. He gave asylum to Edward Snowden. Now, of course, he's hosting President Obama and other world leaders at the G-20 summit. He made his distaste for us known by having Obama sit at the small nations' table.


SAGAL: That's a card table they set up in the kitchen near the main banquet. That was OK, but it really bothered Obama when he had to make the toast with grape juice. That was like...


FELBER: Putin's a killer, but now he's settling for being just a needler, right?

SAGAL: Yeah.

FELBER: But with Obama right now, he's sort of like (speaking in Russian accent) you have something on your shirt, made you look.


FELBER: (Speaking in Russian accent) Also, by the way, I not only have Snowden, I got your nose.


SAGAL: One problem for America right now is that Putin has been - his government has been cracking down on gays and lesbians in Russia. This is surprising coming from a man who often has himself photographed shirtless standing next to bears.


SAGAL: People want to punish Russia for their new homophobic laws by taking away the Winter Olympics that'll be coming up in, like, February of next year. But is there any better punishment for a homophobic country than making them host the Winter Olympics?


SAGAL: You know, 'cause you know what they say, if they outlaw homosexuality, then only outlaws will compete in ice dancing.


BODDEN: That's really going to be great, isn't it, just to have ice dancing, figure skating, just the whole program over there? And it's just knowing it's going to drive him crazy.

SAGAL: He'll be sitting there in the welcoming sign going (speaking in Russian accent) what is with all these spangles.


NEKO CASE: (Speaking in Russian accent) Why am I wearing this singlet again?

FELBER: (Speaking in Russian accent) I always find myself in this singlet at the end of the day.


CASE: (Speaking in Russian accent) It's binding, but I am so aware of myself as man.


CASE: I don't understand my feelings.

SAGAL: This is a very touching scenario we've come up with. I'm imaging Vladimir Putin standing there in his, you know, palatial apartments holding up, you know, Johnny Weir's stolen outfit up to his neck. And a tear comes to his eye, you know, and you flashback to his father saying, no, put away skates, you to be...


SAGAL: Adam, Vladimir Putin has been busy doing things like invading Ukraine and lying about invading Ukraine.

FELBER: Not an invasion, a visits, a visit.

SAGAL: Oh, look, I brought tanks.

FELBER: Picnic tanks.


FELBER: It's why we cover them in gingham. Picnic. Sorry.

SAGAL: Anyway, so he's been doing all that. But according to the official Russian news agency, he still had time, that guy, to do what last week?

FELBER: He still had time to knit in a reclining position.


SAGAL: No. I'm sure he did all those things too.

FELBER: He still had time.

SAGAL: We imagine that he'll be called Vlad and be to former Soviet states what the Cookie Monster is to cookies.

FELBER: He made a puppet of himself. He puppeted.

SAGAL: I'll give it to you. He basically invented a puppet for a Russian kids TV show.


SAGAL: The show is called "Good Night Little Ones," which sounds really sinister if you imagine Vladimir Putin saying it.


FELBER: Whispering it to Ukraine as he pushes a button.



SAGAL: It is the longest-running kids TV show in Russia. And Putin called them up and made a suggestion for a new puppet.


SAGAL: Suggestion, in this case, meaning thing you get killed if you don't do.

FELBER: (Speaking in Russian accent) Fantastic suggestion for puppet. We make it now.

SAGAL: Yes. Exactly. We're not sure of the specifics of the new puppet, but President Putin, in his generosity, is donating excess chest hair to weave him. And there will be this weird episode where the Putin puppet invites all the other puppets over for a chicken dinner and no one can find big bird.

(LAUGHTER) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.