Chatological Humor: Eating While Chatting? That's Okay. (UPDATED 9.12.08)
aka Tuesdays With Moron

Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 9, 2008 12:00 PM

Daily Updates: WED | THURS | FRI

Gene Weingarten's humor column, Below the Beltway, appears every Sunday in The Washington Post magazine. It is syndicated nationally by the Washington Post Writers Group.

At one time or another, Below the Beltway has managed to offend persons of both sexes as well as individuals belonging to every religious, ethnic, regional, political and socioeconomic group. If you know of a group we have missed, please write in and the situation will be promptly rectified. "Rectified" is a funny word.

On Tuesdays at noon, Weingarten is online to take your questions and abuse. He will chat about anything. Although this chat is updated regularly throughout the week, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

This Week's Poll: MEN | WOMEN

Important, secret note to readers: The management of The Washington Post apparently does not know this chat exists, or it would have been shut down long ago. Please do not tell them. Thank you.

Weingarten is also the author of "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death" and co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

P.S. If composing your questions in Microsoft Word please turn off the Smart Quotes functionality. I haven't the time to edit them out. -- Liz


Gene Weingarten: Good afternoon.

So, white women voters: The polls say 20 percent of you have shifted to McCain now that he has placed a white woman on the ticket, even if that white woman would put the cause of women back a few decades. You want to explain yourselves, white women voters? We are all ears.

(I'm guessing not many of you 20 percent are within the reach of these pixels.)

Okay, okay, this is probably just a momentary emotional convention bounce in a highly volatile election year. So relax, everyone. The only thing we know for absolute certain is this -- in the end, this thing is going to be decided by idiots.

Follow my thinking here:

We are presented with two tickets that offer the voters as clear a choice as any we've had in most of our lifetimes. On one side there is a ticket that is pretty darn conservative, on the other, one that is pretty darn liberal. At the top, it's youth v. experience. Pro-choice v. anti-abortion. Universal health care v. no universal health care. Stay in Iraq v. Leave Iraq. School vouchers v. No school vouchers. Gun control v. No Gun Control. It's black v. white. (Literally, too!)

You would think that with so clear a choice, everyone would have made up his or her mind by now. For example, everyone YOU know has made up his mind. But, nope:

There remains, as there always remains, a gradually dwindling core of people who are undecided. The undecideds! They just can't figure this durn thang out! Or they haven't thought much about it, what with one thing or another. The Undecideds are like The Undead: sightless, thoughtless, zombie-like, wandering the Earth, arms extended, staggering, drooling, trying to find the voting booth where they will bump into one lever or the other.

In the end, these are the folks who will decide this thing. Isn't that comforting?


Now, I am not one to criticize anyone else's voice. But after a week long search to discover What Sarah Palin Sounds like, and with the help of some friends, I have now figured it out. Sarah Palin is Principal Victoria.


In The Gene Pool last week I called for poetry about Palin. This rather remarkable piece was produced seriatim by GaryL1. Only lightly edited, it is a fine bit of doggerel despite a rather abrupt rupture of rhyme scheme midway through:

The Ballad of John McCain

In order to steal
the votes of the lasses
I'll choose a young woman
with schoolteacher's glasses

She governs a state.
She's a much-breeding mother.
Flies airplanes with one hand,
shoots wolves with the other.

She can bring down a moose
using rifle or pistol,
While arranging a love match
'tween Levi and Bristol.

Denies global warming.
(Al Gore couldn't fool her!)
It's not getting warmer,
the earth's getting cooler!

A conservative Christian
determined to win,
she wears her poor babe
like a flag lapel pin.

All-in-all, she's my pick,
I do really love her
She makes my heart tick,
Only Cindy's above her.

We'll reach across aisles
with tooth-sharpened smiles
To the folks that we savaged
and the country we ravaged.

Her baby, my scars,
and the stripes and the stars
proudly waving, we'll win
the White House and then

I'll be freed from my demon
ambition and die,
leaving Sarah the Pit Bull.
-Good luck! And good bye!


This exciting page was brought to my attention by John Maynard, my friend at Newseum.


Here is the sweet Clip Of the Day, courtesy Heather Moline.

And here is the sour Clip of the Day, courtesy Henry Chen. I'd like to call it wretched excess, but it's better described as self parody.

Please take today's poll (MEN | WOMEN). Mens' predilections, and women's assessment of men's predilections seem to jibe nicely. The best single result is with the battery and the tongue. Boys do it, and girls don't, in roughly equal majorities. Not very surprising news there, I'd say. Remember the Dave Barry column in which he discussed the three men who suffered serious injury one day because they decided, while a little drunk, to see what would happen if they went down a ski jump in a canoe?

Same impulse.

The Comic Pick of the Week is Wednesday's Rhymes With Orange. First Runner-Up: Monday's Pearls. Honorables: Monday's Speed Bump, Thursday's Orange, Thursday's Sally Forth, Friday's Doonesbury.


Alexandria, Va.: It's my daughter's birthday. Would you write her a poem? We like the double-dactyl style you do so well. Her name is Lily, and she thinks poo is hilarious.

Gene Weingarten: People like you make me sick. Sure you WANT a poem. Join the club, pal. But that's where your part of the deal ends for you, doesn't it, daddy-o? Are you ready to deliver any pertinent information to INFORM a poem? No. "Write me a poem, rhyme-boy, but don't expect me to, like, give you any help." You're like the ignoramuses in the audience yelling at Dylan to sing "Free Bird."

It is sicking how fine artists such as myself are treated by the unwashed multitudes.

Higgledy Piggledy
What is her age? We have
Nary a clue.

Hair color? Mystery!
Ditto, ethnicity.
Garbage in, garbage out:
Lily likes poo.


Alameda, Calif.: Last week's comments about smells evoking emotions made me think about how certain sounds do the same for me. For example, a vacuum cleaner sounds angry to me because our house was generally a mess and cleaning only happened in chaotic fits. My wife thinks it sounds pleasant and comforting because her single mom spent a lot of time away from home working and cleaning was a "together" activity they did when she was home. Any sounds that have a feel for you?

Gene Weingarten: I don't like dogs screaming in pain.

Hey, in the Gene Pool yesterday, when I asked for things that make people's skin crawl, several people mentioned two pieces of Styrofoam rubbing together.

Also, two people said that the feel of a popsicle stick in their mouth makes their mouth feel terribly dry and crackly. One person said for the same reason, she can't cook with a wooden spoon.


Lin, KS: In the intro, the link for Monday's Speed Bump is a repeat of the link for Monday's Pearls. It's fixed now. My bad.

Gene Weingarten: Okay.


Commando: I'm under no delusions about my marvelously human husband, but I know he's unlikely to wear his underpants two days in a row. He's usually more than happy just to go without.

But pee in the sink? Please, one night after he over-indulged, I had to body check him to prevent him from peeing on my entire shoe wardrobe.

The sink looks downright polite after that.

Gene Weingarten: I'm not sure I've ever been loaded enough to pee in a closet. Ever.

This does remind me of the great "gold urinal" joke.

Man comes home stinking drunk. His wife accuses him of seeing another woman, but he shwearsh he was at a nightclub alone.

Yeah, what nightclub.

"I don' remember," the guy says, but it was on 14th Street an' they had gold carpeting, an' gold shot glasses an' even a solid-gold urinal."

He passes out but the wife is still really suspicious. So she starts calling nightclubs on 14th street asking about gold carpeting. Finally one place says, yeah, they have gold colored carpeting.

"Uh, do you have gold colored shot glasses, too?"

"Matter of fact, we do."

"And, uh, do you by any chance have a solid-gold urinal?"

She hears the man cover his phone and shout out to someone else: "Hey, Louis, I think we have a lead on the guy who peed in your saxophone."


Nine volt on the tongue: I wonder how many women who put the battery on their tongues have brothers? I'm one of the minority who had, and I think I can safely say that I never, ever would have done it if my brother hadn't dared me to.

Gene Weingarten: I bet you are onto something there.


Onthethro, NE: Gene, Your link last week to a Sunday "Pickles" comic strip (whose punchline referenced the bathroom necessities "one" and "two") has led me to ask...what about "three," which, umm, combines a one and a two? Let's face it, this often occurs. This has long been an inside joke between my betrothed and me. Say we're watching TV and a commercial comes on. If one of us so much as rises from the sofa, the other will invariably arch his or her eyebrow and suggestively ask, "Number three?" Therefore I ask: have we created the newest catchphrase for the 21st century?

Gene Weingarten: I think it's funnier to think that a "three" is a male orgasm.


Fred from New Orleans: Hello Gene,

Back from the evacuation and waiting on Ike. Missed your last Tuesday chat and I just hope that we will talk about something funny today. Not politics--not that politics can't be funny.

Great poll, more in line from what I would want from you.

I do have an observation/question for you and the audience. Can your spouse, specifically the female, side tolerate a small picture of dear old mum on the night stand?

When I unpacked I found a small pix of my late mother, sharply attired in her Marine Corp uniform circa 1945. I put it on the night stand next to ME. Spouse was rather adamant that I remove the pix to my office or other place. So the temporary comprise is that I turned the pix around. I suppose I will move it to a different place in the name of marital harmony.

Loving spouse did love her late MIL so that is not the issue. And since you did not ask but are about to do so, no, it would make no difference to me if she put a pix of her mother next to the bed.

What say you Gene and others?



Gene Weingarten: So mom is watching you have sex?

Your wife is right. You are lucky she didn't leave you.


Bethesda, Md.: If you're going to link to Monday's Pearls Before Swine, you also have to link to Monday's Hi and Lois. Coincidence?

Gene Weingarten: Wow. I did not know.

No, this is clear collusion. And it makes both of them funnier.


Undecided: "We are presented with two tickets that offer the voters as clear a choice as any we've had in most of our lifetimes. On one side there is a ticket that is pretty darn conservative, on the other, one that is pretty darn liberal. At the top, it's youth v. experience. Pro-choice v. anti-abortion. Universal health care v. no universal health care. Stay in Iraq v. Leave Iraq. School vouchers v. No school vouchers. Gun control v. No Gun Control. It's black v. white. (Literally, too!)"

Do you not think it is possible for an intelligent person to agree with your position on some, but not all, of these issues?

For instance, Obama now says that we need to stay in Iraq (at least for a while). Is he an idiot?

Gene Weingarten: I do. I think that is the Great Fallacy in my argument, but I am not man enough to admit it.


Washington, D.C.: OK, I have an etiquette question that I need your advice on. Is it OK to leave your cart in line at the grocery store while you go back and get something else, and then expect to get back in line where you were? I've always been under the impression that if you leave the line, you leave it and then get back in at the end -- that's what I've been doing. Apparently, not everyone thinks this, as evidenced by the argument I got into at the store last night. Have I been wrong on this? Is it actually OK to leave your cart as a placeholder in line while you go off and do more shopping? Can I start doing this everywhere I go?

Gene Weingarten: I contend it is okay only in very specific circumstances:

1. There is ZERO chance your cart will get to the cashier before you get back. Because that merits corporal punishment.

2. You seek and receive specific permission from the person behind you. At the very least this person needs notification that you have not disappeared, and that you will be right back. This person must agree to push your cart forward should the need arise.


Kensington, Md: Gene, as a white woman, I can't explain the Palin bump at all. She terrifies me, not just as a religous extremist, but also as a moron. Really dumb. So she's a right-wing idiot. Oh, and a compulsive liar. And a bit of a thief.

Gene Weingarten: See next post.


Huh?: "even if that white woman would put the cause of women back a few decades"

I suppose you're talking about the killing of unborn children, half of whom will grown up to be women.


Gene Weingarten: So, there's that.


Arlington, Va.: Admit it, when the century turned the Red Sox took over the Yankees spot and the Yankees are now playing the role of the Red Sox. Year after year the Red Sox pour young talent through their system and have won 2 of the past 4 World Series. They are definitely contending again this year and look like they will be in good shape for the post season.

Meanwhile the Yankee$ go out and sign aging over priced free agents for a while and build a team with NO HEART. So then they decide "we are going to build from within." One problem, they didn't do all the hard work to DRAFT the talent. So they have over rated players (I really need to hear more about the Joba rules, he is SOOOO much better than say Jon Lester of the Red Sox) and then cry about injuries when they fall short (wow, no one else had any injuries...and if you spend over $200 million you might want to have some depth). They essentially believe it is their birth right to be the best. Sorry, it is not the case.

I am so happy they are closing out that toilet of a stadium with a failure of a season. It is over. They are so last century.

Your thoughts?

Gene Weingarten: Hey, I'm publishing it. That must mean something.


Palin pain: I'm a white woman. While there is no way I was ever going to vote for McCain, I'm pretty horrified about the reaction to Palin. I really think the teenage pregnancy frenzy drowned out more important news, such as how she is completely and totally unqualified.

I'm very, very scared. The last two elections have proved Americans are stupid enough to fall for gimmicks and spin, no matter what the real issues or factual information is.

Please say something to make me feel better. I want to go hide in bed for 2 months...and then hope I can get out. E.J. Dionne: Pulling the Curtain on Palin, (Post, Sept. 8)

Gene Weingarten: This'll do it.


Alexandria, Va.: Gene Weingarten: I'm not sure I've ever been loaded enough to pee in a closet. Ever.

I had several friends in college that peed on their sleeping roommates thinking they were in the bathroom.

Gene Weingarten: Wow.


Underwe, AR: I think you left important info. out of the two-day question-- does it involve sleeping in the underwear, and then keeping it on for another day, or taking it off, showering, and then putting it back on? The former is a symptom of a lazy comfort, the latter of laundry emergency.

Gene Weingarten: This is a good point.

I have done the first, I think never the second. Or, not since college.


Rockville, Va.: Now that I think of it, there are three things that I should have sent in to your Gene Pool yesterday under "things that make me crazy." All three are annoying people who I see virtually every morning when I'm trying to watch the morning news.

(1) That annoyingly perky redhead who shills for The Room Store.

(2) "Mr. Opportunity" the Honda cartoon guy.

(3) Lisa Baden - traffic person on WJLA channel 7 news. The only reason I stick with WJLA is because the rest of the news team is far superior to what is offered on channels 4, 5, or 9. But Lisa baden is truly the most anoying person on local news in this town.

Gene Weingarten: I LIKE Lisa Baden. She's chirpy and seems to know she's kitsch.


The article by the lady WAITING for the ring: Is it OK that I hate her?

I just really can't believe that anyone would be that pathetic. And actually be proud of being that pathetic. An engagement watch team? Her poor co-workers. One Ring Circus, (Post Magazine, Sept. 7)

Gene Weingarten: Okay, I have received many posts about this magazine piece, and this is one of the kinder ones. I thought the story was unforgettable, if not entirely in a good way. I read it twice.

I think Rachel Beckman is a talented young writer. There are excellent lines in this article, and original observations; she is a naturally gifted essayist, and is going to get even better.

Sometimes, in trying to deliver a compelling and funny narrative, with a compelling and funny voice, writers don't realize that they are misrepresenting themselves, creating a distorted image of who they really are. This has happened to me many times, and I think that happened here.


MoCo: "There remains, as there always remains, a gradually dwindling core of people who are undecided. The undecideds! They just can't figure this durn thang out!"

I'm undecided. Seriously. I so dislike both candidates that I can't decide which one I like the least. I'm probably going to lodge a protest vote for the Libertarians. Don't worry though - I live in Maryland. My vote is already counted as Democrat. Thank you electoral college for rendering my vote moot.

I'm also a white woman, leaning conservative. Palin's selection didn't change anything.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Brooklyn, N.Y.: The problem with eating on the can is not so much that it is gross, but that it reduces you from human to eating/crapping machine. Heck, why not just skip the middle man and flush the food down the loo?

And what would be the reason for eating on the can? That you don't have time to eat or that you don't have time to defecate? You need to seriously reevaluate your priorities in life if you don't have time for one or both of these activities.

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, this is one bit of grossness with which I cannot identify.


Speaking of the killing of unborn children: Did you see the Daily Show segment last week where Samantha Bee went around the GOP convention and tried to get delegates to use the word "choice" to describe Bristol Palin's pregnancy? It was hysterical.

Gene Weingarten: It was. Liz, can you find this?


Unalaska, WA: So, what exactly was Sarah Palin's talent offering in the beauty contest?

Knife throwing?

I'm guessing it wasn't foreign policy.

Gene Weingarten: She ripped a moose's throat open with her teeth.


Delusion, AL: The women's "one night stand" answers are fascinating. Currently, of 19 votes, there are 10 "never" and 8 "I doubt it" votes. This will probably get me lynched, but as an adult, professional male with many adult etc. friends across the country, I regret to inform those voters that many of your partners already have cheated on you. More of them will. Yes, even the really upstanding ones. Men just don't view infidelity through the same lens as women.

Gene Weingarten: That's pretty cynical, and I don't think accurate. I think plenty of men are monogamous because they want to be. The key to this question in the poll, I think, was "in a faraway place." I think to many men, the anonymity of being far away confers a sense of anonymity and contributes to temptation.

But that's an awfully broad brush with which you paint, and I don't buy it.

_______________________ Here's that Daily Show Samantha Bee clip. Here's that Daily Show Samantha Bee clip.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you. Quick!


Neuritis and Neuralg, IA: Hey Gene - Back when we were growing up (we're the same age) I seem to recall that every commercial on TV for any over the counter drug advertised that it was good for the treatment of neuritis and neuralgia. We never hear about neuritis and neuralgia any more. Why is that? Have they been cured in our lifetime? Are today's drugs no good for this purpose? Are we more concerned about different common ailments? Or was it all just a bunch of typical advertising jive? That's my guess. What's yours?

Gene Weingarten: What a great question!

And a simple googling doesn't give a good answer.

Near as I can tell, neuritis and neuralgia were catchall terms for "pain in the nerves" that apparently have been replaced by more specific terms: Guillain-Barre, herpes, shingles, trigeminal nerve disorder, fibromyalgia, etc.

Mostly, though, this is the "catchall" designation that every generation of doctors have for vague symptoms that plague symptom-riven people. Back in my mom's day it was "neurasthenia." It means, mostly, "tsk tsk."


Columbia, Md.: Please, just tell me why anyone would pee in a sink. What, you have to go so bad and someone is in the bathroom and you just can't wait for another 30 seconds. The sink is just a fun place to pee. You just want to see if you can watch it go down the drain. I really don't get it and I certainly don't want to be washing my face in a sink a man just peed in. Give me a break. Men really are from a different place aren't they.

Gene Weingarten: After establishing that we had each at some time done the sink thing, my son and and I asked each other "Why?" We came up with the same answer at the same time:

"Because it was there."

Same reason for the 9-volt, which we also had both done.


Who? Who?: OH MY GOD!!!



excuse me, i am going to go brush my teeth.

Gene Weingarten: Many, many more people than you'd think, apparently. This one I don't do. Anyone want to explain this?

Dan said I needed a followup question to the potty question: "If you answered yes, above, was it ever ... fudge?"


Silver Spring, Md.: What kind of man has never peed in the sink or tongued a 9-volt battery?

Gene Weingarten: I could forgive one lapse or the other, but not both.


Boston, Mass.: I loved the anti-wedding article, but when I read the transcript of the chat, all of the hostile responses made my eyes roll right outta my head and down a hill. Really, people? One very funny and cute article about how big weddings suck brings out this much defensiveness? I'll call the wahmbulance for you fools.

I got married on my lunch break in City Hall with three guests, who seemed rather weirded out once they realized how low-key the whole affair was going to be. Sob. Poor me, deprived of swan ice sculptures. How has my marriage survived all these years? Sob. The Anti-Wedding, (Post Magazine, Sept. 7)

Gene Weingarten: Well, think about it. What if you had spent $40,000 on a big ol' ostentatious wedding that you or your parents were still paying off (and maybe secretly regretting) and here flounce in two smart young women who are openly contemptuous of the nature of your choice, and who proceed to plan and execute a cheap, hilarious, unforgettable wedding for two people who loved it and will carry great memories of it for a lifetime? Don't you think you might be a little crabby and over-the-top defensive?

This was a nifty story. I hope it starts a movement.


NY, NY: Gene, you've been the recipient of many a femcomium. How much do you think you really know about women? Please answer with both a percentage (how much you know of everything there is to know) and a percentile (how much you know relative to other dudes). And don't be modest.

Gene Weingarten: Hm.

Well, I haven't had that many sexual partners in my life, so I am deficient in my knowledge of the diversity of women's physical needs and wants and pecadillos and unusualities and thus such. I am not studly and versed in the ways of the mysterious Orient.

I think I've always listened to women, maybe more closely than many men do. And working with Gina Barreca for five years led me (whether I wanted to or not) to think more deeply than some men have thought about what women feel, and why they feel the way they do. Through Gina, I came to understand women, intellectually, more deeply than I had before.

These chats, too. About 60 percent of the chatters are women, and I feel that over the last five years I have had oddly intimate public conversations with them.

So, in conclusion, I know almost nothing about women. But it is more than most men know.


Chantilly, Va.: Once in college, when I was fairly drunk but not "falling down" drunk, I stood at one end of a line of four urinals and tried to hit the bowl at the other end. I seem to recall having been moderately successful. My wife says that this is more disgusting than peeing into the sink, because whatever missed would end up on the floor. I told her that it was evident that she was never in a men's dorm bathroom.

Gene Weingarten: My brother swears that he once witnessed a distance-peeing contest won by the sole female contestant. He was too drunk to remember how she did it, though.


Brooklyn, N.Y.: Listen, you can disagree with Sarah Palin about the issues and the actions she undertook as governor of Alaska or any other public office she's held. You can disagree with her on her published statements or things she utters while running for the office of Vice President. But don't you think we owe it to her -- and ourselves if we want to retain any integrity -- especially if we object to smears about Barack Obama -- to get the facts right about her?

OK. Here we go.

She's not a creationist. She never supported teaching creationism in Alaska schools. She thinks kids should learn about condoms. Bristol Palin had perfectly ordinary sex ed and got pregnant anyway. Sarah Palin never had any books banned while mayor of Wasilla. She has never been a member of the Alaska Indpendence Party, which is not a secessionist party anyway. She never supported Pat Buchanan. She did not have an affair, and her husband's business partner had his divorce records sealed to prevent media ghouls from harassing him and his son. The public safety commissioner she fired has gone on the record in the Anchorage newspaper saying she never pressured him to fire her brother-in-law. She's never said derogatory things about Eskimos.

Truth is a good thing. Now go back to your regularly scheduled hatred of people who don't do things they way you think they should do them.

Gene Weingarten: Wait, wait. TELL US ABOUT THE ESKIMO CHARGES. I hadn't heard that before. What did she not do???


MoCo: The thing that fascinates me about the Palin frenzy was the jibe by the Democrats that she is horribly inexperienced. She is, unquestionably. Her resume is not enough to be VP to an oldest President ever.

In fact, it has only slightly less resume points on it than Obama's. New Senator vs. new Governor. Former mayor vs. fomer state legislator. I am amazed how someone can tear Palin's resume apart, but uphold Obama's as good enough. Either they are both good enough or they're both horribly inexperienced. Can't have it both ways.

Gene Weingarten: No, there is a big difference. You will deny it, but it is an enormous difference:

Barack Obama has been running for president for three years. He has been traveling the country, developing complex positions on national and international affairs, speaking to knowledgeable people, getting vetted by the public, winning elections. He is, by now, a hugely knowledgeable man about the affairs of the country and the world.

Palin, until ten days ago, never thought outside Alaska.

Huge, huge difference.


I eat in the loo: Not always by choice, but, well, here goes. I have a spastic colon, and I am frequently in the loo. I have been so dehydrated from going, on such a prolonged basis, that I have resorted to bringing a snack and a drink to keep me from passing out. It's not often, and I'm not proud of it, but I answered truthfully. As a young woman, it is absolutely mortifying, but I do what I have to to get by.

Gene Weingarten: You go, girl. Eat proudly on the can.


Washington, D.C.: Gene: "Sometimes, in trying to deliver a compelling and funny narrative, with a compelling and funny voice, writers don't realize that they are misrepresenting themselves, creating a distorted image of who they really are. This has happened to me many times, and I think that happened here."

I actually got the sense that she realized how distorted her position had become. She seemed well aware of the ridiculous nature of the whole thing. I enjoyed the essay.

Gene Weingarten: Good. Then, for you, she succeeded.


Weddings, etc.: Gene: Our daughter is engaged, but no date yet. We are talking about giving them a fixed amount for the wedding. Spend less, and keep the difference. Spend more, and pay the difference. We completely financed our own wedding, and liked the degree of control that we had.

Gene Weingarten: I like this plan. I have considered it myself.


Bristol's health insurance?: Do you or the chatters know the answers to this?

If Bristol Palin marries her baby daddy, won't she lose her health insurance coverage for her pregnancy, which I assume she has via her mother's employment? I'm guessing that Levi doesn't have health insurance, but even if he does, would it cover a pre-existing condition (pregnancy) of Bristol's if he marries her before the baby is born?

Gene Weingarten: This is an Only-In-Washington question.


Falls Church, Va.: A woman I used to work with told me about her husband once being so drunk that he peed into a vent on the bedroom floor. God only knows how they ever cleaned THAT up....

Gene Weingarten: Oooh, and you would be getting feedback from that for weeks.


Richmond, Va.: Did you hear the one about the two Irish gay guys?

Patrick Fitzgerald and Gerald Fitzpatrick. AHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Gene Weingarten: Hahahahaha.


Phone on the Throne: I'd be more interested in knowing how many people would admit to carrying on a phone conversation while on the toilet. I admit to hypocrisy here; while I'd be horrified if I heard, err, "bathroom noises" on the other end of the line, sometimes a conversation is too important to interrupt. So am I deviant or common? (I'm also a 20-something woman).

Gene Weingarten: I am very afraid to do this because the flush instict is so strong and automatic.


Sarah Palin v. Harriet Miers: What about the comparison of Sarah Palin with Harriet Miers? Is this fair?

Gene Weingarten: No. Harriet Miers was much more experienced.


Samantha, Bee: I think she's hilarious, but I'm a lady. She's also hot, right? Does she get the Sarah Silverman bump? (I am asking as the lady who wrote about how hot those young you tube hot boys were a bit ago...)

Gene Weingarten: She's no Tina Fey. In the hot department.


More Poll Questions: Gene,

I went through the poll with my husband.

When I asked, "Do you look at internet porn for relief," he answered, "Isn't that what it's there for?"

Good question!

Gene Weingarten: A couple of people have asked why I included "for relief" in the question. It was to eliminate the possibility that any women might allow herself the common self-deception about what men do with Internet porn. Men do not "look at" internet porn or "read" internet porn. Men "use" internet porn.

Liz, can you link to that great muppet video, synched to "The Internet is for Porn"? I can.


Washington, D.C.: Why does everything have to be so black and white to you Gene. Why are Democrats the good guys and Repubs the bad guys? I'm a Republican and simply like to have lower taxes and you know why because my older retired mother likes it when I send her "goodies" of her favorite magazines or chocalates or when I fly her to vist me and her grandchildren. I like having more money in my pocket because I give 10 percent to my church and to charities that I work personally with. Yes I make more money than most, but I also give back more than most and I don't think the bloated bureaucracy of the federal government is the most efficient spender of my money.

On abortion, I think life is better than death, but I'd rather work with mothers rather than banning abortions. I also hate the death penalty. Gene I know its funny and it gets a rise out of people, but its not black and white. Just because people don't have Biden or Obama's experience doesn't mean they can't lead. Lincoln certainly ran a lot of losing campaigns before he became the man.

Gene Weingarten: All of this is fine, until the Palin-Lincoln implied comparison.


To Brooklyn: That was a somewhat misleading list of statements about Palin. No, she never had any books banned from the Wasilla library, but it wasn't for want of trying. She asked the librarian about it more than once, and then tried to fire the librarian after she refused. Palin also brought up banning books at public meetings. That's plenty for me to have serious concerns about her perspective on free speech and the marketplace of ideas. Additionally, she -did- say that she supported teaching evolution and creationism "side by side," and -did- say that she did not support "explicit" sex-ed programs.

Gene Weingarten: Oh, I wasn't endorsing that prior list. You are right on all of this.

Hey, you know what I want to know? What books, specifically, did she want to ban? Because I am guessing that the library in Wasilla, AK did not have, say "Lolita." I am guessing when we learn what books Ms. Palin wanted to ban, we will have a very amusing look at Ms. Palin's brain.


Silver Spring, Md.: That was not an anti-wedding. That was just a different kind of self-absorbed spectacle.

An anti-wedding is what I had, and what Gene had -- go to the courthouse at lunchtime, and get it done.

Gene Weingarten: Not really! You and I had NO wedding. Definitely a statement, but a private statement.

This was different. This was aggressively ANTI, an in-your-face, crisp a one-finger salute to the Matrimonial Industrial Complex. The Anti-Wedding, (Post Magazine, Sept. 7)


From Caitlin: Just weighing in on the Sarah Palin thing. I'd like to say that I think the most UN-feminist perspective of all is the one that assumes women are so unfathomably stupid that if you substitute one chick for another, it doesn't matter, because hey -- she's a woman! Any intelligent person, man or woman alike, isn't going to support someone soley because of their chromosomal makeup, for God's sake. Sarah Palin is horrifying. She is NOT HILLARY. Any Hillary supporter who could possibly, even for one second, consider switching alliances to back Palin is not doing any favors for our gender. We're smarter than that, even if the GOP doesn't think we are. I hope.

Gene Weingarten: Hey, Cait.

The polls say you are wrote. The polls, at least for the moment, implies plenty of your gender are NOT smarter than that.


Gene Weingarten: Er, wrong, not wrote.


Ethical Dilem, MA: My wife, a lovely individual, has an ethical dilemma. Years ago she dated a guy who's grandfather, she later found out, was a sexual predator. Fast forward quite a few years. She knows exactly where the man lives, and she found out that he is in an "unknown wherabouts" status by the state of California. She believes he is legally required to register regardless of state lived in (no longer California). My personal opinion is that she just wants a little revenge on her ex-boyfriend, but she insists that her want to "turn in" the grandfather is noble.

My personal issues: I hate the registering law, it punishes someone for life when there are often mitigating circumstances. In addition, it's an unfunded mandate that requires significant police resources to create less than clear results.

On the other hand, the law, is the law. What say you? Turn him in? Go about our business?

Gene Weingarten: Well, my initial reaction is the one I usually have with buttinskis: Butt out.

But then all the "what ifs" start tiptoeing into the room.

I don't like the notification laws myself, much. So I stick with butt out, but I will be second guessed by others.


Defending Lisa Baden: You're right, gene. Lisa is awesome. She yells over the radio at the people who slow down to look at accidents. That rocks.

Gene Weingarten: I am a fan. I bet she is a nice person, too.


What the heck?: Heard a discussion on the radio this morning, and one guy came out and admitted that he didn't think he could vote for Obama because of his race. I was hoping we had worked our way past this. (And why does everyone seem to ignore the fact that the people who actually raised him were white?)

Gene Weingarten: There is something interesting that is not part of the general knowledge about Obama.

Have any of you read "Dreams From My Father?"

He is a brilliant writer. Magnificent. Like a good novelist.


After, Divorce: So after being seperated for over a year, and formally divorced for six months, what do I do with my ring? It's not a simple, run-of-the-mill gold band, but rather a custom piece, and am loath to throw it away for aesthetic reasons.

Gene Weingarten: Wear it on your other hand. It will really confuse the hell out of women.


One Ring Circus: The essayist may have succeeded in describing her descent into ridiculousness (and her awareness of it), but I couldn't get past the fact that she basically bullied her boyfriend into proposing TWO YEARS before he was ready. Is that really OK? She already had the silver "commitment" ring on her right hand. Why did she need the sparkly one on her left so darn bad? I'm surprised this doesn't rile you up as much as women changing their names does.

Gene Weingarten: It does, and it riled up a LOT of readers. (Read the comments.)

I am simply saying that I think, in the interests of presenting a compelling story in a limited space, the writer told only part of the story, one that was the least flattering to herself. As a writer, I can see how this happened, and why.


Carlisle, Pa.: Gene, the funniest part of that Samantha Bee clip was the beginning, where she got the gut reactions of why Palin is experienced, and one delegate said that it is because it shows that -anyone- can be president. I had to stop after a minute of the choice baiting, when she started acting the role of Bristol, it was waaay too contrived to be humorous.

Gene Weingarten: That was great, anyone can be president.

I agree, her Bristol imitation was straining.


REPORT HIM!: My niece was abused by an unregistered sex offender. If he had registered - some of the abuse would have still happened - but not the last say 7 years of it.

I know we all like to think that all parents carefully evaluate all people their children are left alone with and would ---know--- and act if they thought their child was being hurt. The truth is all parents aren't like that and registration laws can help others intervene on the child's behalf.

Gene Weingarten: Okay. As I said...


Undecided, here.: I'm one of those moronic Undecideds, and here's the thing: McCain feels like my guy, because I'm conservative and tend to see the world through those glasses. BUT............much of what Obama says and who he is speaks to me. This whole election is forcing me to examine, carefully, WHY I think, act, vote and respond the way I do. I may,in fact, vote for Obama not because I align with him on all specific issues, but because I see it as a good thing for this country, at this time. I love this election. I see positives and negatives in both candidates, both parties, both outcomes. I'm proud to be part of this process.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, you're no zombie.


Melbourne, Fla.: Don't know where you and Lizzie come down on the topic of "Mad Men'' but something in recent episode disturbed me. Aside from the business cheating, marital cheating, smoking and drinking that seeme oh-so-prevelant in the 1960s, we seem to have been serial litterers back then too. I'm too young to remember, but did people routinely chuck beer cans to the ground and leave their picnic wrappings behind for all to see? Is that why that Indian cried so much in those TV commercials? I just watched that episode last night and can assure you that my eco-minded sensibilities were duly shocked. And while I wasn't even anywhere near being alive in 1961, I find it hard to believe it was the norm to just leave your picnic litter and run. I think the "Mad Men" characters -- and their habits -- are meant to be a distillation of that period. They're caricatures. People perhaps littered, smoked, drank and patted women on the rear, so these characters exaggerate those qualities. But Gene, who was definitely alive and of littering age in 1961 may have a different answer...

Gene Weingarten: Littering in all ways was far more prevalent and casual. It was common to throw wrappers out of a moving car, for example. No one picked up after his dog. In New York, in particular, littering was an epidemic, and so prevalent it was essentially impossible to police. The city wound up with signs that didn't so much ORDER people not to litter as BEG them not to litter. ("Every Litter Bit Hurts.")

A brilliantly written detective novel of 1948 was Rendezvous in Black, by Cornell Woolrich. The plot was based on a man's attempt to exact revenge for the death of his girlfriend; she was killed by a beer bottle flung from the window of a mall charter plane flying over Manhattan.

The point didn't seem to be so much that it was outrageous that someone might fling a bottle from a plane; it was astonishment at the coincidence that the bottle actually hit someone.


Sorely vexed: I am one of those white midwestern, middle-aged women who is supposedly flocking to John McCain's campaign because I am totally dazzled by Caribou Barbie's ascension to the ticket. I am sickened by the very thought of those two being elected. Gene, please, please tell me that Americans are not this stupid?

Gene Weingarten: I have to believe that in the next two months, as she is shamed into exposing herself to questioning, we will wise up. I am looking for a conservative columnist with a concscience to concluded that a patriot cannot vote for this ticket because of Palin's unreadiness for the job. Krauthammer seems to be wavering.

I appear to be in a pretty small minority of the media that didn't think her convention speech was good. It was delivered spunky, but it seemed small-minded, mean-spirited, sarcastic, and altumately dumbed down. I just loveed the online reaction that "Hey, Sarah. Jesus was a community activist. Pilate was a governor."


Tampa, Fla.: If you could ask each of the presidential and vice presidential candidates one question, what would you ask?

Gene Weingarten: "What is the funniest thing about running for national office?"


Husba, ND: I'm feeling a little sorry for Sarah Palin's husband. He's kind of hot -- and if, by some freakish happening he ends up being the VP's hubby -- he's gonna hate Washington. He looks like he hates the suit. He's a professional fisherman/snow machine person and he'll be stuck smiling and shaking hands with people who are looking over his shoulder for someone more important.

Gene Weingarten: This is the first such sentiment I've heard, and I agree with it. He's almost a tragic character.


Dreams From My Father: an awesome, honest, complex book. Which is why I was ready to help out the day Obama declared his candidacy.

The man can write. He has great talent and intelligence. There are still some of us in the world who believe that these are assets in a president.

Gene Weingarten: It is a little shocking how well this book is written. He writes better than I do, and, like, that's not the man's first career...


Shopping cart: Dear god no, you heathen. You do NOT get to position your cart in line and then go back to finish your shopping. The ONLY time that's acceptable is on the rare occasion that you realize that you forgot something specific, and it will take you 30-60 seconds to run there, get it, and come back.

The validity of my stance is proven by imagining what would happen if everyone did it. Endless lines of driver-less carts. Yes, Safeway sucks, and it takes forever to check out. But that doesn't make you special. If you are making a regular habit of this, you are not nice.

Gene Weingarten: But this is exactly the scenario I described....


Because I am guessing that the library in Wasilla, AK did not have, say "Lolita.": You are wrong. According to their online catalog, they have one copy, and it is not currently checked out.

Gene Weingarten: Ah. Thank you!


Anonymous: Gah! My husband is shocked I haven't licked a 9 volt battery and insisting I try it. I'm pregnant! Gene, tell my husband that he's stupid. Please? I'll lick the damn battery after the baby comes if I must.

Gene Weingarten: I like your use of "shocked."

If you google "9-volt battery" and tongue and miscarriage, you do not get any meaningful hits, though you do get an amusingly stupid British joke.


Pal, IN: Gene: Last week you said you thought Sarah Palin was going to be a disaster for McCain. I thought so at the time, when all the crazy revelations were coming out. But now, she's energized the base. And all we really needed in this election was for the evangelicals to stay home. Now I'm terrified. Have you changed your mind, or do you still think she's a burden to the GOP ticket? Until she gets to Brooke Hogan, can we really call the base "energized?"

Gene Weingarten: I think her burdensomeness will become a problem once she starts to open her mouth in an unstaged setting.

But I am less sure. In the last week, the simplemindedness of the public has been astonishing me. More than I thought I was capable of being astonished


Jerry Springer, the Opera: I saw you and your wife Saturday night at the Studio Theater. Yikes, you weren't kidding about that voice of yours. People, it is far worse than you've been told. But your unique voice must actually be an asset when you do your beating up on the poor 800 number operators. It would add to your nitpicking "character."

Anyway, how did you like the play? I met some people who were there for a second or third time and was expecting something really good. It was disappointing. The music drowned out the words and it was freezing cold in there.

Gene Weingarten: Some of the lyrics were a little hard to hear, but overall, I loved it. I loved the enthusiasm and power of the whole thing, and I particularly loved the unapologetic iconoclasm.


Springfield, Va.: Enjoyed the poll but how come there were no absolute yes answers? I KNOW the man I love the most is looking at porn and peeing in the sink!

Gene Weingarten: Several women sent in this idential question.

Gene Weingarten: Identical, not idential.

Observation, not question.

I think the rest of my response was without error.


Inappropriate peeing: My ex-husband tells a story about his brother. His brother got drunk at a house party and felt the need to set free all that beer. He wandered around, hoping to find the bathroom, but couldn't. He did, however, find an alternative.

The host walked into the kitchen to find the brother letting loose a powerful jet of pee, not in a sink, but in the cat's litter box. The cat was looking on with horror and the dismissive disgust that only a cat can convey.

When questioned afterwards, the brother said it was the most logical thing his beer-fogged brain could come up with.

Gene Weingarten: Actually, under the circumstances, he did well!


New York, N.Y.: I forget: did McCain answer your question in the column you wrote a while back about the funniest thing about running for office?

Gene Weingarten: He did. He was the top of the story!

Liz, can you find this? From 2000, by me. Long story. Google me, McCain, Gore and Bill Bradley.

My recollection (see if I am right) that whatever McCain responded wasn't all that funny on its own, but that the hilarious thing was that the entire one-question interview took place while he was peeing at a urinal.


Rockville, Md.: "I am looking for a conservative columnist with a conscience to concluded that a patriot cannot vote for this ticket because of Palin's unreadiness for the job."

Thank you for sharing.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, conclude. But yes. I think someone is going to.


Holding a place?: What about the husband standing in line, holding nothing, until the wife arrives with a loaded cart, now at the front of a long line of shoopers? Kind of like standing in a parking space while your partner whips a U-turn downtown for the precious spot, no?

Gene Weingarten: That is not acceptable behavior.


Palin's popularity: Here's what I think. The conservative base isn't crazy about McCain. He's like an arranged marriage they are being forced into for the sake of tradition. Then along comes Palin. It's like they've been fixed up on a blind date and discover that she's HOT! And she loves guns! And her daughter is carrying the Messiah! Conservatives are in the first blush of young love. But give it a few weeks. She'll say a few stupid things, when she's finally released from her programming sessions and allowed to give interviews, and the bloom will be off the rose. Just you watch...

Gene Weingarten: I do expect that. But I didn't expect the extent of his bounce.


Washington: "He is a brilliant writer. Magnificent. Like a good novelist."

You left out "shockingly racist." Or perhaps you're one who thinks minorities can't be racist?

I can't wait to write you when Hussein the Messiah flames out in November.

Gene Weingarten: If you think that book is racist, you do not understand the meaning of racism.


Washington, D.C.: Perhaps instead of blithely dismissing all McCain voters as stupid, you should take a closer and genuine look into why they support him. You might be surprised to find you can't pigeonhole people so easily. For example, I'm a 32 year-old Asian woman who is very pro-life (anti-death penalty too), but also extremely pro-animal rights (as is no testing on them. Ever. Even for medical research. Obviously no eating of them either) and for gay rights, including full marriage. Pro-gun control but also economically more conservative. I'm not going to list the reasons here why I will support McCain this fall but I wish people would stop calling everyone who supports him idiots without realizing we're complex people who can think on our own.

Gene Weingarten: I don't think anyone who supports McCain is an idiot.

I think anyone who is ready to vote for McCain, willing to risk Palin as a sudden president, is unpatriotic.

There is a big difference.

Okay, thank you all. Good chat. I will be updating through the week.


Wasilla, AL: I don't pee in the sink, but my wife does.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


UPDATED 9.10.08

Gene Weingarten: Okay, the first item is the definitive list of books that Palin tried to ban from the Wasilla library. It was sent to me by four different readers. It is a giant list that includes works by J. K. Rowling and Stephen King and Judy Blume! It is shocking! I would publish the list here so you can all see what an awful person Sarah Palin is, except that the list is an Internet lie. Totally bogus, yet very widely circulated. Shame on us. Speaking of which:


Hoboken, N.J.: GW: "Have any of you read 'Dreams From My Father?' He is a brilliant writer. Magnificent. Like a good novelist."

You know he had a ghostwriter from the New Yorker, right?

Gene Weingarten: And three different people sent me this! Also, not true. Obama had no ghostwriter for that book.


Cincinnati, Ohio: OK, so why does Chatwoman bother to filter comments and keep you from discussing certain topics, when the Post allows comments like some of those on this Trail item? Just scroll down and you'll see lots of questionable posts -- posts so questionable that when I tried to submit them to your ombudsman by cutting-and-pasting, her comment software rejected them as unsuitable.

Here's just one, expurgated, example: "I was watching Palin's speech again & it looks like she had some c-- on her face, did you see that?? How can we trust her to run the country if she can't even get a towel before going in public?"

How is allowing comments like that to go unchecked any different from running a store that has its windows and outside walls covered in graffiti? And what could you possibly discuss that would be as objectionable as that?

Gene Weingarten: As it happens, my column this Sunday is on this very subject. I can't speak to the Trail's comment threads, but would imagine they aren't closely monitored. But what I can speak for these discussions -- all of which are moderated by a producer. Not one comment or question makes it online here which hasn't first been vetted by someone. It's a very different experience than a blog or article comment thread, which is more of a free-for-all.


Peeing Contest: It's after the chat, but I just had to chime in with regards to this contest. On a camping trip in Yosemite my boyfriend and I conducted such a contest to see who (woman or man) could pee farther WITHOUT USING ANY HANDS. Thanks to all the Wild Turkey I drank, I was able to prove that I (the woman) was the superior contender. My technique (turning around with my heels on the line and some suave hip action) proved to be the deciding factor.

Gene Weingarten: Two other women have claimed they either won such a contest or saw another woman win. One claimed manual pressure was needed, to streamline the flow, as it were.

We remain skeptical.


Fairfax, Va.: I've found "Little Dog Lost" rather underwhelming in the short time it's run in The Post, but Sunday's was notable for one reason: it got an expletive past the censors. (Check out the big sign, and pause when reading it out loud after the "O"...) Is this common? Do many (younger) comics writers see what they can sneak in, if only to be SOFA KING cool?

Gene Weingarten: Nah. This is not an expletive or even a profanity. It is a REFERENCE to an IMPLIED profanity first aired on SNL and since duplicated for some reason (it's not that funny) by dozens of youtubers. (Oooh, You Tubers!)

Anyway, here's one. Little Dog Lost, (Sept. 7)


Washington, D.C.: Dear Gene,

Could you please explain to me why so many people in this country think it is a bad thing to have an education, and that our leaders should be "real folks" and "like us"? What? I'm not even close to being qualified to be president, and neither is anyone like me. I want somebody MUCH smarter for the job.

Gene Weingarten: I think Jon Stewart said it best:

"Doesn't elite mean good? Is that not something we're looking for in a president anymore? The job you're applying for, if you get it, and it goes well, they might carve your head into a mountain. If you don't actually think you are better than us, then what the f@*k are you doing? Not only do I want an elite president, I want someone who is embarrassingly superior to me. I want someone who speaks sixteen languages and sleeps two hours a night hanging upside down in a chamber they themselves designed."


UPDATED 9.11.08

Re: CPOW: How did dogs get so afraid of thunder? Is it related to domestication, or do wolves all huddle together in a cave every time a good thunderstorm rolls through?

Gene Weingarten: I believe there are two reasons:

1. Dogs hear very high and very low sounds more acutely. Thunder sounds really, really loud to them.

2. You would be terrified of thunder, too, if you had no brain. It's a low crashing sound coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, out of our control to stop or silence it. Thunder is terrifying, without the knowledge to reason it away as unthreatening.

Murphy is scared witless of thunder. The only thing that scares her more is if the smoke alarm goes off from cooking. (Sharp, piercing sound, coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, out of our control to stop or silence it.)


Vouchers: Gene, I am a total Obama supporter but the one issue that doesn't make sense to me is why Democrats don't support vouchers. I think vouchers would help to de-monopolize the school system, which would be good in the long run for everyone. I know it goes against the grain to give money to private schools, but wouldn't more variety in early education be healthy?

Gene Weingarten: I think Democrats don't support vouchers because Democrats are beholden to powerful teachers unions. Also, because, philosophically, vouchers take control away from government and put it in the hands of business.

I think Democrats will TELL you they are opposed to vouchers because there is a lot of graft, corruption and mismanagement in the handing out of charter school contracts and the management of the schools.


Arlington, Va.: Today's Doonesbury: SO last week?

Gene Weingarten: Yeah! Trudeau drew this about the time McCain picked her, and I think he foresaw the same timeline I did. Boy were we stupid.


Davis, Calif.: You are in a unique position, both as a public toilet researcher and as a master of the public relations phone call, to help me with an annoying dilemma.

Our department has moved into a new building. Being California, the land where there is always a water shortage and where green building is like, all the rage, they installed double-flush toilets -- different flushes for #1 and #2. #1 flush uses less water. This is a great idea. However, in order to flush for #1, you have to pull up, whereas in order to flush for #2, you push down. This is a normal looking public toilet toggle-switch looking flusher, the type I (and most women, as we determined in a poll last year) would step on to flush. This would be okay if it were the other way 'round, since only once in like a million years would I actually do poops in a public toilet next door to my office (shas-IF). But if I step on the handle after #1 and retain the illusion that I have triumphed over the germs, I will be wasting California's precious-est resource. Since it's about 100 degrees right now in Davis, I have been wearing sandals, and it is totally gross to pull up with a bare foot and defeats the purpose of using a foot at all. I mean, at least I'm going to wash my hands.

The toilet is manufactured by Sloan. Would you please call them and inform them of this design flaw? It's too late for me, but perhaps I can help other victims of green building.

I have a theory that it is a toilet designed by men, so it is a push down for #2 because it is awkward to pull up from a seated position, thereby making the mercy flush more difficult. I want to know, by the way, how men think they are avoiding being sprayed by fecal matter when employing the mercy flush. I have felt a spray all the way over at the door.

Thank you, and you're welcome.

Gene Weingarten: Basically, men don't care about being sprayed. But don't women do the courtesy flush, too?

My answer to the overarching question is the answer I have always had. Don't flush with your feet, ladies. You wash your hands afterwards, anyway, right? Do you think poo coties will penetrate your skin and get into your bloodstream between the time you exit the stall and arrive at the sink?


Greenbelt, Md.: Do you think a large percentage of black people are only voting for Senator Obama because he is black?

Gene Weingarten: Not anymore.

I think when he was running against Clinton, a large percentage of black people voted for Obama mainly because he was black.

Now, I think they are voting for him because of the clear choice between the two tickets. AND because he is black.


Umbrel, LA: Another etiquette decision for you ... We were at a college soccer game, with a big bleachers section where ticketholders sit where they like (no assigned seats). It was raining and many people brought umbrellas, which mostly (unless very small or held very low) blocked the view of the person behind. I contended that if someone wanted to put up an umbrella it was their job to find a seat - and there were plenty - that was not in front of someone else. My wife believed that if their umbrella raising bothered me I should get up and move, and on no account should I say anything to the person in front of me. What say you?

Gene Weingarten: Bringing a big umbrella to a game is exactly the same as reclining in a packed airplane. Rude.

You should have raingear with hoods. Or if you bring a brolly, it should be little.


8th and I: Urinating in a sink is nothing. The greatest story relates to NFL journeyman Najeh Davenport, who while in college defecated in the laundry basket of a Barry University woman in her dorm room. He was then given the nickname "Deuce."

Gene Weingarten: Also "Poop," apparently.


UPDATED 9.12.08

Patriotic McCain-Palin Supporter: Are you expecting McCain to drop dead after the inauguration? Who is he? William Harrison?

Do I seriously believe Palin is ready to be president? No. Will she be after some time as vice president? No doubt. She's obviously intelligent. Her move from small-town mayor to governor of the largest state in the Union was seamless. We've seen that gubernatorial experience is transferrable to the presidency.

This isn't the 1800s anymore, the president gets pretty decent health care, and by all accounts McCain is in good health. If and when disaster strikes, I have no doubt Palin will fill in admirably.

Gene Weingarten: Largest state in the Union!

Here are some more facts for you to use: Alaska is larger in area than the following places COMBINED: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom!

Also, Wasilla is the fourth largest city in Alaska! Really! After Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau!

Also, Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein!


Leesburg, Va.: On the Lisa Baden topic... I agree that she's fun and has a quirky way about her, and I like her broadcasts - except:

She announces where the HOV enforcement is happening.

That is inexcusable. The cops don't enforce the HOV restriction often enough as it is. It's really frustrating to hear her make some cutesy, sing-song "oh, and folks, there's some police activity on 267 East this morning" and see the violaters pull out of the HOV lane. It's not right that she helps the cheats -- they're cheating and they should get stuck for it. It's unfair to both the people lawfully in the HOV lane and to those who obey the law and deal with the traffic rather than cheat.

My husband and I have actually called in to complain a couple times to her, and she has agreed that it's helping the cheaters, but in a month or so she's doing it again.

It's not just on 267, either. She's pointed it out on many other roads.

Anyway... I'd like her a lot more if she'd stop helping the HOV cheaters.

Gene Weingarten: Here's how dumb I am: I never realized what she meant by "police activity."

Hm. Well, I guess I agree with you. I thought she was giving useful information, like where the police activity was holding up traffic.

It's interesting. She's doing a subset of her listeners a favor, but not the public at large.


Harrisburg, Pa.: Do you remember the Archie comic where Archie admits his sexual preference to Betty?

Gene Weingarten: Thank you. It helps that the words are boldfaced.


Silver Spring, Md.: So, what happens when you put a 9-volt battery on your tongue?

Gene Weingarten: That would be telling. You need to find out. Note -- the Washington Post Company does not condone or encourage the misuse of electricity in any way.


Bethesda, Md.: Last week you said Palin would probably be off the ticket within 10 days. Do you still think that's the case? Have the transpiring events humbled your confidence in your ability to assess events politically?

Is it possible that those who feel differently than you regarding Palin are not idiots?

Gene Weingarten: I've given this some thought and decided that no, that is not possible.


Palin Bounce: I have been an Obama supporter since Iowa, and Palin's beliefs are pretty much exactly opposite from mine on every substantive issue I have heard about thus far.

But at the same time...

There has been so much sexist coverage since she was announced, and it really upsets me. No one has called Biden a VPILF or accused Obama of not being a good father. They aren't sending around pictures of McCain's head super-imposed on a different body in skimpy clothing or asking about his daughter Bridget's boyfriend.

I know it's not coming from the Obama campaign, but still! A woman can't be smart and attractive at the same time? She can't bear children and not be a full-time mom?

I'm a politically-active, Ivy League-educated, flamingly-liberal woman who is tempted to vote McCain/Palin just as a statement against the toxic attitude toward women in power in America.

Grr Boo Hiss! I'm hoping the media wakes up before they forve me to make a horrible decision out of anger to actually vote for the dark side.

Gene Weingarten: The media can "force" you to make a "horrible decision"?


Springfield, Ill.: Waffle house wedding.

Gene Weingarten: The article is excellent. But the slide show is priceless.

Gene Weingarten: This is, needless to say, a very cool wedding.


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