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Not My Job: Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo Gets Quizzed On Actual Islands

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


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: So we're spending our time this week talking to people about things other than the presidential election. And it's been great. I feel better than I have in 16 months.

KURTIS: Last spring, we went to Providence, R.I. And we actually got to talk to the governor. It was easy. It's a pretty small state, so we just waited until she walked by.


KURTIS: Peter asked her about how she prepared for her first debate.


SAGAL: Did you do the whole practice thing, where you had people stand in for your opponents and they attacked you, and you had to deal with it?

GINA RAIMONDO: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

SAGAL: Right.

RAIMONDO: Mostly people looking down at me.

SAGAL: Really? You're not a very tall governor.

RAIMONDO: No, I'm not...

SAGAL: Yeah.

RAIMONDO: ...A very tall governor.

SAGAL: Well, you're - it's appropriate for the state, I guess.

RAIMONDO: Exactly.


SAGAL: I want to ask you about something because I've spent a lot of time in New England. And there are all these stereotypes. There's, you know, Vermont - there are all these liberals. In New Hampshire, there are these libertarians. In Maine, they're flinty lobstermen. Massachusetts - they're smug jerks. But...


SAGAL: I know this. I get around. But what is the Rhode Island stereotype?

RAIMONDO: Well, you know, it's - we're a feisty bunch. We're a unique, little state - big things...

SAGAL: Yeah.

RAIMONDO: ...Little governor, big plans.



MO ROCCA: Didn't Massachusetts try to invade Rhode Island at one point?

RAIMONDO: No, that's a myth.

ROCCA: Is that right?

SAGAL: It's a myth? It's not true?

ROCCA: Somebody told me that.

RAIMONDO: No, I don't actually - I don't know. I don't know.


RAIMONDO: I've learned, as governor, if you say it with authority...


RAIMONDO: ...People believe it.


PETER GROSZ: Oh, that's good.

ROCCA: I have two Rhode Island factoids. Rhode Island has, of all the 50 states in the union - has the highest percentage of Catholics. And it has the highest rate of alcoholism of all 50 states.


ROCCA: I'm not drawing a connection between the two, but...

SAGAL: No, no, no, it just happens to be true.

ROCCA: ...Those are my two statistics I know.

SAGAL: Yeah.

RAIMONDO: I am one of those.


RAIMONDO: And that would be Catholic.


SAGAL: That would be Catholic, I see. We know you married out of state, shall we say.

RAIMONDO: I did. I did, which was a source of controversy in my house at the time.

SAGAL: Really?

RAIMONDO: Absolutely. He had two strikes against him. He wasn't from Rhode Island. And he wasn't Italian.

SAGAL: Oh, that's terrible.

RAIMONDO: That was real - he was from the Midwest and German.


SAGAL: Oh, no.


GROSZ: He might as well have been, like, a Martian or something.

SAGAL: I know.


RAIMONDO: Absolutely.


RAIMONDO: But my brother helped him out. Andy came to my house. And for the first five times, my mother called him Anthony - trying to will him to be Italian.


ROCCA: To Italianize him.

GROSZ: Oh, that's amazing.

ROCCA: That's hysterical.

RAIMONDO: And it was Easter dinner. And my mother did what she always does - made an amazing meal with five courses - antipasto, pasta, lamb, everything. So anyway, Andy starts eating like crazy. His plan was to eat his way into my family.


RAIMONDO: He ate everything - more than I've ever seen him eat. And after the pasta, then the food came out.



RAIMONDO: And he turns over. And he says, honey, I can't eat anymore. And my brother taps him on the shoulder and says, you want to marry her? Keep eating.


SAGAL: This is actually relevant. But - so your husband - I'm sure he didn't sign up for this when you got married. But he's, like, the first dude of Rhode Island.

RAIMONDO: He is. And he's great at it.

SAGAL: So what duties have you given to your first - what is he called? Is it the first guy?

ROCCA: First gentleman.

SAGAL: First gentleman?

RAIMONDO: Yeah, first gentleman. We call him first gentleman.

SAGAL: And what duties does he have?

RAIMONDO: He's been amazing so far. I couldn't do it without him. And our two little kids, by the way, the first - I guess the first first kids...

ROCCA: They're little roadies.

RAIMONDO: ...Cece (ph) and Tommy - they're little roadies. He's taken on the issue of food insecurity, so...



RAIMONDO: ...It's a great issue.

SAGAL: Food insecurity, like, oh, my God, I don't think I can eat all this food.



SAGAL: You mentioned getting people to visit Rhode Island.


SAGAL: And there was this...


SAGAL: Recently, the Rhode Island Board of Tourism or...


SAGAL: ...Something like that...


SAGAL: ...Came up with a slogan to induce people to visit this vacation paradise.


SAGAL: And can you tell me what that slogan was, Governor Raimondo?

RAIMONDO: Yeah, I can tell you it wasn't so hot. It wasn't too hot.


SAGAL: No, no, no...


SAGAL: It was - I feel we should share this with the people of America. The slogan was cooler and warmer.

RAIMONDO: Exactly.

SAGAL: All right. Did this come across your desk one day?


SAGAL: Did - oh, and governor, here's the new slogan.

RAIMONDO: Yeah, exactly. You know, not too cool...

SAGAL: And what did you say?

RAIMONDO: Not too cool, not too warm - I thought it was just right. But it really didn't work.

SAGAL: Really?

ROCCA: Is that - sorry, is that a menopause thing or something?

SAGAL: I don't know.


SAGAL: Cooler and warmer?


SAGAL: So have you come up with a new slogan?

RAIMONDO: No, we're deciding to go no slogan.

SAGAL: No slogan.


SAGAL: I have to say I love that you came up with this slogan. And everybody didn't like it. And you were like, fine, we won't have a slogan.


SAGAL: It's like Rhode Island - the passive-aggressive state.



SAGAL: Well, Governor Raimondo, we are delighted to talk to you. We've asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: You Call That An Island? This Is An Island.


SAGAL: So we've only been here for a little while. But we can't help noticing this Rhode Island of yours - not an island. So we're going to ask you three questions about real islands. Get two right - you'll win our prize, Carl Kasell's voice on the voicemail of one of our listeners. Bill, who is the governor of Rhode Island playing for?

KURTIS: Dan Booth of Providence, R.I.

RAIMONDO: All right, Dan.


SAGAL: So you ready to do this?

RAIMONDO: I'll do my best, Dan.

SAGAL: All right, here is your first question.


SAGAL: A place called Vulcan Island is quite unique in the world. Why? A, at 20 square feet, it's the smallest inhabited island in the world because of one man who sleeps there standing up, B, it's an island within a lake within an island within a lake within an island within the Pacific Ocean, or C, it started as a high school paper mache volcano that escaped to sea?


RAIMONDO: Oh, my gosh. Sorry about this, Dan. I don't know how we're going to do. I will go with B.

SAGAL: You're going to go with B, it was an island within a lake within an island within a lake within an island?


SAGAL: You're right.



SAGAL: That's what it is.


SAGAL: You'll find Vulcan Point Island or Vulcan Point Rock in a crater lake within an island within a lake within an island in the Philippine archipelago.


ROCCA: That's neat.

SAGAL: All right. Here's your next question, governor.


SAGAL: The best-known island in the world is, of course, "Gilligan's Island."



SAGAL: Not everyone found it funny, though, as in which of these examples? A, the inventor of the coconut radio, who felt the show unfairly disparaged his very real product...


SAGAL: ...B, in the 1960s, when it was first broadcast, many people did not realize that "Gilligan's Island" was fiction and regularly contacted the U.S. Coast Guard to help the people stranded there...


SAGAL: ...In 2013, psychologists reported on Gilligan's disease, sufferers of which had had the theme song in their head nonstop since 1966?


RAIMONDO: Oh, my God.

GROSZ: That's hard. That's hard.

RAIMONDO: Let's see, that's a tough one. I think I'm going to go with B again.

SAGAL: You're going to go with B - that people called the Coast Guard?

GROSZ: Yeah.


SAGAL: Yes, that is right.


SAGAL: All right. Last question. You can be perfect. There is an island in a lake near Mexico City that's rather famous and somewhat creepy. Why? A, because of a population of wild roosters in a hot thermal geyser, fully cooked chickens often shoot into the air...


ROCCA: That's service.

SAGAL: ...B, all the trees and bushes are covered with hanging children's dolls staring at you with their sightless eyes, or C, a rotating crew of musicians make sure that there is a bagpipe always playing on this island 24/7, 365.

RAIMONDO: Wow, well, B is too creepy to pick...

ROCCA: No, no...

RAIMONDO: ...So I'm going to pick C.

SAGAL: No, it was B.


ROCCA: It's B.

SAGAL: Pretty loud person...

ROCCA: It's like a Dia de los Muertos kind of thing.

SAGAL: Apparently, this guy, for some reason, was - just started hanging children's dolls all over this island. It's apparently really creepy.


SAGAL: Yeah.

DICKINSON: 'Cause it doesn't sound creepy at all.



SAGAL: Bill, how did Governor Raimondo do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Governor, on this show, 2 counts out of 3 is a win.



SAGAL: Gina Raimondo is the governor of the great state of Rhode Island, pound-for-pound the finest state in the union. Governor Raimondo, what a pleasure to talk to you. Your governor, ladies and gentlemen. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.