Not My Job: Consultant James Carville Gets Quizzed On Couples

Dec 28, 2013

This segment was originally broadcast on Sept. 28, 2013.

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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CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT, WAIT...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News Quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. And here's your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Carl. And thanks everybody. Apparently you listeners like your political operatives to be folksy and sharp-tongued, not to mention sharp-nosed, sharp-lipped, sharp everything else. James Carville looks in person like kissing him would require stitches.

KASELL: So we just talked to him when we went to Baton Rouge in the fall of 2013 and you all, as you might say, wanted to hear it again.

SAGAL: And now the game where those who are successful at something important to 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 the 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: OK. (Unintelligible).


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

CARVILLE: Yeah, oh well, my mother's from (unintelligible).


CARVILLE: Famous because the sheriff wants that time in his own jail.

SAGAL: Did he really?

CARVILLE: Yeah, a legendary man named Potch Didia was the sheriff and he was sentenced to jail. He spent time in his own jail (unintelligible).

SAGAL: I'm sure that makes him 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 was is it used to be called Island 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. And my daddy was a 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.

SAGAL: Yeah.

CARVILLE: 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 - after I went in the Marine Corp I took a little break and I had some difficulties with my grades sometimes.

SAGAL: Did you really?

CARVILLE: You know...

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


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

SAGAL: I can imagine.


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


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

CARVILLE: I grew up like 25 - 20, 25 miles south of here but when I came to LSU - I went to a 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...


CARVILLE: ...pretty much, you know, took the whole thing in.

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

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


SAGAL: No, no, no. 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 Corp, you became a lawyer in Baton Rouge (unintelligible)...

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, then we - I went to work and the next thing you know, you know, Jennifer Flowers and we had the draft story and then we had this. And we kind of went from one crisis to another. But...


CARVILLE: ...then you go up to New Hampshire like (unintelligible) Vermont. It was so cold - this is a true story.

SAGAL: How cold was it?

CARVILLE: I'll tell you how cold it was.

SAGAL: Please do.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you. So 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, Razor Back, and it was so cold the fire couldn't thaw the pig.


SAGAL: 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, working an Israeli election?

CARVILLE: Well, I figured the secret on Israeli.

SAGAL: What?

CARVILLE: We had to concentrate on a Jewish vote.


SAGAL: Oh yeah, that's very important. Because (unintelligible)...

You know, if you didn't do that you wasn't going to win, huh?

CARVILLE: I did a race in Nigeria one time. I said, now we got to get the blacks votes. You understand what I'm talking this...


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

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

SAGAL: I know.



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

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 and you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl's voice on their voicemail. Carl, who is James Carville playing for?

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

SAGAL: All right.

CARVILLE: Oh, good.


SAGAL: (Unintelligible). 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 TGI Fridays such as ectamorph night, B, FindYourFaceMate, 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: I'll go with two.

SAGAL: You're going to go with two? You're right. That's the one. FindYourFaceMate.


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 them themselves. But that is not the Featherstone's 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 hotdog 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 for C, Wait a minute, logic leads you.


CARVILLE: Well, it's more logical - she didn't win the county - 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've 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...


SAGAL: beautiful. No, it was actually A, Donald Featherstone invented the pink flamingo back in 1957...



SAGAL: his first year out of art school. 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 Kristy 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.


SAGAL: B, never be more than 15 feet from each other ever or C, never speak except in unison.


CARVILLE: B is what?

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


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


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


SAGAL: They would never...

CARVILLE: I am pumped. I'm pumped.

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


SAGAL: So Carl, how did James...

CARVILLE: I can tell you one thing.

SAGAL: Tell me one thing.

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


SAGAL: No, or they didn't mind.

BODEN: Did they really get divorced?

SAGAL: They really did.




SAGAL: They wanted their space I guess. They decided to go in a different direction? I don't know.


SAGAL: 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.


SAGAL: His latest book "Love and War" co-author with his wife Mary Matalin. It'll 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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