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Bluff The Listener

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Helen Hong, Dulce Sloan and Maz Jobrani. And here again is your host, who CNN is now projecting to be too close to call...


KURTIS: ...Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff The Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi. You are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

BETH GRIMES: Hi. This is Beth Grimes (ph) from Tucson, Ariz.

SAGAL: Hey. How are things in Tucson, Beth?

GRIMES: Things are hot. I just moved down here from Flagstaff, and I'm not really feeling it right now, so...

SAGAL: Oh, yeah. Flagstaff, which, if people haven't been there, is this beautiful town, but it's very high, so it's not as hot as the rest of Arizona.

GRIMES: Yeah, it's a big difference.

SAGAL: Well, Tucson is actually one of my favorite places, so you are lucky. There's beautiful deserts and mountains. And if you need to, it's relatively easy to flee to the border.

MAZ JOBRANI: (Laughter).

GRIMES: This is true.

SAGAL: Beth, welcome to our show. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Beth's topic?

KURTIS: Stand up and probably be counted.

SAGAL: We're not the only ones in the world voting this week. We are just the worst at it.

HELEN HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Our panelists are going to tell you about another election that happened that you may or may not have heard about. Pick the real one, you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

GRIMES: Absolutely.

SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Maz Jobrani.

JOBRANI: In 2016, when Constantin Petrescu (ph) ran for governor in the region of Transylvania in Romania, no one knew who he was. Given his low profile and his lack of support, he lost in a landslide. Four years later, he tried to run again but was told that election losers must wait 10 years before they can reenter the race. So Petrescu found a loophole and ran his deceased great-great-grandfather, who is possibly the most famous Transylvanian of all time, Count Dracula.

HONG: (Laughter).

JOBRANI: And he won. Election officials didn't know about the loophole in the law, which doesn't designate that you actually have to be alive to contend in an election. Says Petrescu, (imitating The Count) most places indicate age limits on how young or old you have to be to run for office, but the Transylvania election guide does not specify, so you could be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or dead.

HONG: (Laughter).

JOBRANI: The count got an overwhelming victory, beating his opponents with 85% of the total votes. Most people claim they were so fed up with the corruption in Transylvanian politics that they felt voting for a dead famous person couldn't make things any worse. Now that the count is the governor, the question remains if official business will have to be handled after sunset but before sunrise.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Dracula himself - or his remains - gets elected to office in Transylvania. Your next story of an election elsewhere comes from Helen Hong.

HONG: There's no shortage of drama taking place amongst lovers of the belly-baring half-shirts known as crop tops. The unofficial national association, known as Crop Top Life United, voted this week to allow full-length tops at their monthly gatherings, or crop top-athons. The move is enraging some die-hard crop-toppers.

Are you freaking kidding me, complained one longtime member wearing a loose T-shirt sheared to just under his armpits. The whole reason why I joined Crop Top Life United was to be around people like me who hate long-ass shirts. Now we're letting long-ass shirts join the club?

The proposal to allow, quote, "longs" at the monthly gatherings was put forward by the group's secretary treasurer, Raquel Sanchez (ph). Sometimes it's just too darn cold to have my bellybutton out, she stated. A handful of outraged midriff-barers is considering cutting off from the group and starting a new organization tentatively named Keep It Short For Real.

SAGAL: The national association of crop top wearers decides in an election to allow in full-length tops. Your last story of voting variation comes from Dulce Sloan.

DULCE SLOAN: Everyone loves a rags to riches story, but what about rags to a political position? That is exactly what happened to Marina Udgodskaya, a woman who works at city hall in the small Russian town of Povalikhino. The incumbent mayor, Nikolai Loktev, was running for reelection and needed an opponent to give the illusion that the election was fair, but he couldn't find anyone to run against him. So he found a last resort - a choice that usually lives in the realm of '80 sitcoms. A la "Who's The Boss?" he asked the cleaning lady.

JOBRANI: (Laughter).

SLOAN: But democracy came and bit Loktev in the ass when Udgodskaya won. She didn't even campaign. The people in the town just knew who she was, and they kind of liked her. And she only agreed to run to help her boss. Now her salary has doubled to 29,000 rubles, or $380 a month. And her first duty as mayor is to find a new cleaning lady.

JOBRANI: (Laughter).

SAGAL: All right. Here are your choices of an interesting election that we heard about this week. Was it, from Maz Jobrani, the corpse of Dracula himself elected to office in lieu of his descendant, who couldn't win as a living person; from Helen Hong, the group that celebrates crop tops voting to allow in people who like to cover their navels with full-length tops; or, from Dulce Sloan, a cleaning lady picked to be the losing candidate in a mayoral election in Russia actually wins it? Which of these was the real story of an election we found in the news this week?

GRIMES: I'm going to have to go with Dulce's story.

SAGAL: Of the Russian election.


SAGAL: All right. That's your choice - is Dulce's story of the election in Russia that was won by the patsy who was chosen just to put on a show. Well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke to a reporter who covered the real story.

ANDREW KRAMER: He expected to win this election by appointing his cleaning lady to be the fake opposition in an election. And she won the election.


SAGAL: That was Andrew Kramer. He's a reporter for The New York Times in Moscow, Russia. And, indeed, you got it right. Of course, Dulce was telling the truth because in Russia, (imitating Russian accent) cleaning lady wins.

I'm sorry. That was terrible.


SAGAL: Nonetheless, you have won. You've won our prize. You've won a point for Dulce. And you get to choose any voice on the show you might like on your voicemail. Congratulations.

GRIMES: Thank you.

SAGAL: Beth, thank you so much for giving us a call and playing.

GRIMES: Bye-bye.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.


THE RADIANTS: (Singing) Voice your choice. Tell me, who do you love? Voice your choice. Girl, yeah. Voice your choice. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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