Nick Thune took the long way to stand-up comedy, performing Enrique Iglesias cover songs and making a stop in rehab before graduating from high school. On The Gist, he explains why he’s not scared of silence on stage and what made him ditch his guitar. His new special, Nick Thune: Good Guy, is streaming now on Seeso. In the Spiel, asking much of Steven Mnuchin and parrying with Rick Perry.
President Donald J. Trump was voted into office by an impatient electorate that had no ability to measure his rhetoric against a political record. Slate political writer Will Saletan predicts that national impatience will not be kind to Mr. Trump. Saletan is the author of Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War. U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., joined dozens of his colleagues boycotting the inauguration. He explains what Democrats can do to draw attention to Mr. Trump's conflicts of interest. Michael Waldman penned two inaugural addresses for former President Bill Clinton. Waldman says Mr. Trump’s speech was remarkable for what it didn’t include: any mention of the Constitution, liberty, or democracy. “Which is something that presidents do," Waldman said. "It’s almost like a religious incantation in these speeches.”For the Spiel, some non-Trump news. How Gambia got its groove and the fight against fake news in Sweden.
You didn’t have to agree with William F. Buckley to marvel at his intellect, his swiftness, and his wit. Starting in 1966, Buckley got to show off his skills every week on Firing Line, his pioneering television show devoted to debate. Heather Hendershot watched nearly 1,500 episodes of the show, and though she still doesn’t agree with Buckley, she admires how he created a place for high-minded argument. Hendershot is the author of Open to Debate: How William F. Buckley Put Liberal America on the Firing Line. For the Spiel, is the circus shutting down or will confirmation hearings be going for a bit longer?
     
On every major piece of legislation in the Obama era, congressional Republicans have thrown up roadblocks and been reluctant to compromise. Can Democrats do the same in the age of Trump? Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and The Atlantic looks at the options facing the Congressional opposition and the future of everyone’s favorite obstructionist tool, the filibuster. In the Spiel, why we don’t judge presidents based on their inauguration’s Nielsen ratings.
     
So, who is Donald Trump’s most troubling Cabinet pick? Is it Jeff Sessions, who received an 11 percent score on civil rights issues from the NAACP? Or Rex Tillerson, who was unprepared for questions about Vladimir Putin’s regime? Or Ben Carson, who didn’t seem to know anything about the mandate of Housing and Urban Development? Slate’s chief political correspondent weighs in on the first week of hearings for Trump’s Cabinet picks. In the Spiel, it’s Lobstar time again. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at Slate.com/gistplus.
This week, race was front and center at the confirmation hearing for Trump’s attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions. Cory Booker and the head of the NAACP testified that Sessions’ history of alleged racist comments and his voting record suggested he could not fairly uphold the rights of all Americans. The Alabama senator fired back that he was not a racist and had fought to honor historical figures like Rosa Parks. The whole affair raised questions about how to discuss race, “whiteness,” and issues of identity politics in the Trump era. Marc Lamont Hill is a professor at Morehouse College, a frequent commentator on CNN, and a host for BET News. His new book is Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond. In the Spiel, Kellyanne Conway’s war on the media. Today’s sponsor:LifeAfter. What happens to our digital lives when we’re gone? LifeAfter, a new series from GE Podcast Theater and Panoply, the creators of last year’s award-winning The Message, explores these very questions. Listen and download LifeAfter wherever you find your podcasts. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at Slate.com/gistplus.
Between the shady unverified intelligence dossier, Trump’s strange press conference, and the Rex Tillerson hearings, this has been a head-spinning 24 hours. We called up Slate’s War Stories correspondent Fred Kaplan to make sense of it all. Kaplan is most recently the author of Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War. In the Spiel, an analysis of President Obama’s farewell and the meaning of activism. Today’s sponsor:Policy Genius. Shop and compare all the top-rated life insurance companies in one place. Go to PolicyGenius.comtoday to save over 70 percent off other prices for life insurance. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.
If you’ve been reading the Onion the past eight years, you know that Vice President Joe Biden is a hair metal–loving party machine. He’s set up a fog machine at the State of the Union address. He’s regaled crowds with stories from his historic summer of ’87. And he’s been busted many, many times for his shady side hustles. Chad Nackers, head writer at the Onion, talks about how his site created a whole new character to satirize Obama’s tee-totaling vice-president, and the delicate balancing act of finding jokes that don’t normalize the next president. For the Spiel, don’t worry, the Amazon Echo won’t turn on you, Space Odyssey–style. It’ll just order stuff you don’t want. Today’s sponsors: Indochino, the company that’s reinventing men’s fashion. Go to Indochino.com to get any premium suit for just $389, plus free shipping, when you use promo code gist at checkout. Rocket Mortgage from Quicken Loans. When it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender, work with one that has your best interests in mind. Use Rocket Mortgage for a transparent, trustworthy home loan process that’s completely online at QuickenLoans.com/gist. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.
Are millennials really less money-focused than their forebears were? Do the kings of finance obsess over money because society doesn’t give them another way to measure their success? How can we make ditch-digging meaningful work? On The Gist, behavioral economist and Wall Street Journal columnistDan Ariely weighs in; think of him as the Dear Abby for the smartphone set. Ariely is the author of Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations. For the Spiel, surely the glitz and glamour of the Golden Globes will stop Trump! Right? Today’s sponsors: ZipRecruiter. Post your job listing to all the top job sites with a single click. Try it for free by going to ZipRecruiter.com/gist. And by Lifeafter. What happens to our digital lives when we’re gone? LifeAfter, a new series from GE Podcast Theater and Panoply, the creators of last year’s award-winning The Message, explores these very questions. Listen and download LifeAfter wherever you find your podcasts.
The National Institutes of Health used to have blanket advice for parents: Don’t give peanuts or peanut products to children under the age of 4. The result? Between 2003 and 2014, it seems likely more Americas were killed by bad advice about peanuts than by acts of terrorism. Why did it take so long to change these guidelines? Marion Nestle says we know very little about the science of food allergies. She’s the author of Food Politics. In the Spiel, explaining hacking in a way even Donald Trump would understand. Sponsors: What happens to our digital lives when we’re gone? LifeAfter, a new series from General Electric Podcast Theater and Panoply, the creators of last year’s award-winning The Message, explores these very questions. Listen and download LifeAfter wherever you find your podcasts. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.