Episode 86: Cheeto Watch

Published March 31, 2017.

Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.

Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.

Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. On this week's agenda, Cheeto Watch, Paul Ryan is disgusting, and Jivanka are up to no good as always. Plus Angela Merkel, we feel your pain, tracking legislation in the States, a Senate seat battle in Georgia, and, question, what if we had paid time off for civic engagement? Plus the hardest-working baby in show business.

[Theme song]

Ann: You want to talk about the news?

Aminatou: Oh my god. So much content. What's going on?

Ann: Are you watching the Cheeto this week? [Laughs]

Aminatou: Oh my god. I mean this week is a new week, but all of last week was incredible. First of all, my man is like two-thirds through his first 100 days and has accomplished exactly zero things. Zero. Like amazing. Because the healthcare bill, best healthcare bill in the world as Paul Ryan called it, was defeated.

Ann: The no healthcare bill?

Aminatou: Oh my god. Just like the sheer incompetence of it all. Okay, let's just go. Let's go through the motions. What's going on with Cheeto?

Ann: Well, okay, so yes, the big headline is failure of a really terrible healthcare bill that literally no one liked. Like not a single human. There are evil people who didn't like it because it wasn't evil enough and didn't cut enough people off of healthcare. There are reasonable people including the 24,000 who would've lost coverage who are like this is terrible.


Aminatou: Right. To be clear the bill failed because it wasn't cruel enough.

Ann: Exactly.

Aminatou: That's what happened. This is how crazy these fucking Republicans are.

Ann: Right. So no one liked it, but some of us didn't like it for moral reasons and some of us didn't like it because we are interested in making money and protecting rich people, not guaranteeing healthcare for everyone. So that's like the headline. Yeah, and also like watching the Republicans in various branches of government scrambling to not characterize this as a defeat has been a unique pleasure.

Aminatou: Okay, you know how for seven years Republicans have basically in the House been passing all of these terrible repeal bills and then every time Obama is like "Fuck y'all" and so that never happened? So it's very clear that all of this time they were just saying no but nobody actually had a team. Like this is fascinating to me. Secondly, they also perpetrated this lie that Obamacare was passed in the dark and the president rammed it through or whatever. To be clear it took Obama and Nancy Pelosi 13 months to pass healthcare. Obama gave so many speeches. He like crisscrossed the country. He went to Congress to convince them. And all of it was on TV. It's like CSPAN was basically Healthcare SPAN for like a year almost.

Ann: Yeah. Votes were whipped.


Aminatou: Yeah, this is all we talked about. Let's pause one minute to discuss the genius that is Nancy Pelosi and how she gets no credit because she's a woman and she's older. Nancy Pelosi is iconic. Watching Paul Ryan not be able -- like have the majority that he does. He didn't need a single Democrat. Could've stood to lose 20-something people in his party, like not vote. He still couldn't fucking get it together. You realize that he's just . . . there's just this incredible mythology built around him that he's not a politician, he's a policy wonk or whatever. And it's like no, actually, the bill was shitty from a policy standpoint. The one job that he's supposed to do which is like rally his party he couldn't fucking do. Everything was bad. The healthcare bill -- at the last minute they kept changing all of these things, right? And then so it's like at the last minute they're like yeah, no more essential health benefits or whatever which basically means like no hospitalization. Yeah.

Ann: I mean the phrase essential health benefits should tell you what you need to know.

Aminatou: Hello? The whole point of healthcare is at the barest minimum possible if you get hit by a bus you're able to go to the emergency room and they will patch you up. This bill did none of that. Then we just got into this nasty forever-conservative, awful human debate where they're just like "Why should men pay for maternity care?" And it's like hello? Because we pay for your fucking prostate checks. This is how insurance works.

Ann: Yeah. This idea that is so prevalent in that line of talking, which is that essentially . . .

Aminatou: Women are expensive.

Ann: Are a drain. Right, a drain on the system, and men don't cost anything. And it's like well, first of all it's your own problem for not getting preventative care checkups regularly, right? Like I mean maybe statistically men are not accessing health services as much but that's just stupid. Like everybody should be doing healthcare the way women are more likely to do, with preventative care.

Aminatou: Yeah! Also all of these babies have fathers, just second of all.


Ann: Wait, what now? I'm sorry, are you trying to tell me men are involved in reproduction?

Aminatou: Yeah, no, Ann, men are involved in reproductive health. Like can you believe that the party of family and pro-life doesn't believe in taking care of babies?

Ann: No, I refuse to believe it.

Aminatou: I'm so shocked. I firmly believe that if you have been born you should pay for maternity care. Like that's how that works.

Ann: [Laughs] If you have entered into the world. Yes.

Aminatou: If you were born somewhere, somehow, this is how you repay this.

Ann: Oh my god, maybe Paul Ryan was grown in a petri dish.

Aminatou: Yeah, just to be so cruel. We're also in the middle of this terrible opioid crisis. Like a lot of people in states that are really affected by this stuff, and now Republicans are telling them like "Sorry, we won't pay for your care. Addiction's not real. Fuck you guys." And so it's like what is the point even of having healthcare? Also they were so careful to say that they were repealing all of these Obamacare mandates because they just want you to have access to healthcare. Guess what? I have access to a five million dollar house. It doesn't mean I can buy that shit. That's not how this works. It's like either you give it to people or not. But the thing I guess that's exciting now is Republicans and Democrats alike are talking about universal healthcare. It's like what?

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: Going to turn this bitch into a socialist country by the end of the year. Nuts.

Ann: Oh my god, god willing. I mean there's also this notion too that when Republicans talk about repeal they had this plan that was we're going to get rid of Obamacare and then we're going to wait for however long it takes to put together a new plan.

Aminatou: Yeah! The waiting was the seven years. [Laughs]


Ann: I know. And it's like I'm sorry, how many of us are going to be dead before then without any healthcare? Like it's honestly shocking. I truthfully don't understand how you have that much of a disconnect between what you think people actually need on a day-to-day basis.

Aminatou: It's not a disconnect, Ann. It's like it's incompetence.

Ann: Do you think that's true? Do you think it's like people in their lives though -- I mean, okay, I know a lot of people who wanted a crueler version of this bill are people who'd been rich for a long time, right? But doesn't everybody have someone in their family who has at some point had a health crisis? This is what I truthfully don't understand.

Aminatou: Yeah, it's still incompetence. Here's why it's incompetence. It's because they didn't have a plan for seven years because their excuse is they were used to being an opposition party and not a governing party. And it's like actually you should have ideas to bring to the table every fucking day when we're paying your goddamn salary. All of these congress people have stellar healthcare. Like we should make them buy their healthcare on the exchange and then maybe things will change.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: Like that's the bill I would push if I was in Congress. And third of all, the problem is that the Republican base, there are all of these people -- the people who are the most vulnerable ones, like the people who actually need the healthcare -- are also under this disillusioned thinking where they want to get their healthcare through jobs that are never fucking coming back. So they just assume they're not going to need it. It's basically like buying your healthcare on the exchange is being on the dole for liberals and then they're going to be fine. And it's like actually, no, you people love the Medicare expansion, like all of you people. This is going to be a problem.

Ann: Right. Yeah. It's true. And I do hope that one of the other -- I hope there are a couple of lessons from this going forward like, you know, one of them being that actually even when you are the opposition party and you are . . . for those of us who are writing to our members of Congress and saying "Resist, resist, resist, no, no, no," that has to happen simultaneously with also developing new ideas. And I get it. Like most of us who are writing those letters are like yeah, single payer would be great. But also communicating like proactively "Hey, when there's the opportunity this is what we want to see happen" feels pretty important to me.


Aminatou: I trust Nancy Pelosi to do that. I feel like that's what's going to happen because now they have this opening, right? It's like Democrats have more leverage than they had before. It turns out that when you pander to your most right-wing part of your party you actually can't get anything done when you're a Republican. These are the same people that fired John Boehner. They're going to fire Paul Ryan for sure. It's going to happen. And they're just making it impossible to just do middle of the road stuff. It's like they were counting on healthcare for tax reform so now it's really hard to see where the president's agenda goes, right? It's like well, you didn't save any money on the goddamn healthcare bill so how is tax reform going to happen? And also it's like the cruelty comes back, right? It's like Paul Ryan, literally his entire life, he wanted to gut healthcare and he wants these two big tax cuts basically for rich people. This is not going to happen. This is America, Paul Ryan. Calm down.

Ann: Do you remember like two or three years ago when Paul Ryan was going on his -- I'm air quoting -- like poverty listening tour? And was like "Oh, as a serious policy person . . ."

Aminatou: Yeah! Because he started talking to this pastor. It's like very sick.

Ann: Right. Then he got all this really flattering press for it. Like I totally remember all of these long articles about like his soul searching and his truly trying to understand what it means to be low-income or in straight up poverty in America. Then it's like you know what? All of those fools that bought that, despite his libertarian rhetoric and despite his voting track record, I just want to call up everyone who wrote those articles and be like "Look what you did. You totally transcribed that."


Aminatou: But even more egregious than that are all of the people, and if I recall all men, who a couple of years ago before he had John Boehner's job, before he ran with Mitt Romney, basically lionized him as this policy genius. It's like no, actually, this bill was bad. Like forget the tactics, right? The actual tactics of how you get a bill passed which Paul Ryan failed at and the president failed at. It's like you can't go golfing then expect other people to do your job for you. Like this is what you need to do. It's like the bill itself, like the policy of it itself, was bad and that's why he couldn't sell it to anybody in his party.

And so it's like I remember all of those articles and I want to go back and shake all those people. I'm like you have zero evidence to say that this guy's a policy genius except for the fact that he's on some budget committee and he just talks like he knows what he's doing. And it turned out the emperor had no clothes.

Ann: No clothes at all. Like only smelly workout clothes. Like I feel like Paul Ryan is a gym rat with nothing beneath the surface is the narrative to push.

Aminatou: Oh my god. Remember that Time Magazine photoshoot that he did?

Ann: Ugh, I can't even. Yes I do.

Aminatou: Oh my god.

Ann: I'm going to actually look it up right now.

Aminatou: P90X, Paul Ryan.

Ann: Ugh, ugh.

Aminatou: Yeah, it's like bros are always going to bro, man. It doesn't matter what industry they're in, they're so ridiculous. But this is the first big test for him and he like bombed majorly and it's hard to see where he comes back from it. And now it's really interesting to see all of this coverage where all of these -- it's like senior White House official says, and you're just like Spicer, just say your name, it's cool, where they're all like "We're open to working with Democrats." It's like well actually remember how the president's been shitting on the same Democrats that he now needs help from? It's hard to see how that happens now. They're just like bad tacticians. John Boehner, at least at the end of his tenure, him and Obama basically did a pact with the devil where they're like "Okay, let's just do things." Then my man still lost his job. And with Trump it's like he's been shitting on all of these Democrats so it's hard to see how that's ever going to happen for him. And also like the base, a.k.a. us, we're not going to stand for it. So say goodbye to your infrastructure plans, say goodbye to tax reform, like the wall, where the fuck is that money going to come from? Can't do it.


Ann: Why didn't he start with infrastructure? This is the thing that blows my mind, right? Because that infrastructure plan -- Obama was into infrastructure and early in his presidency proposed a bunch of funding for jobs and improvements on that front. This seems like a no-brainer victory that you should start with, but no, no, it's all like how can we do the big kind of gotcha thing that's on our to-do list?

Aminatou: My one theory about it is again the cruelty thing. It's that they really wanted to embarrass the anniversary of Obamacare. You cannot pass major legislation in like 13 days. That's just not going to happen. Everybody in the White House was like "The president left it all on the field," and it's like no. [Laughs] He like read a draft. Calm down. That's not what happened. But also I suspect Paul Ryan really wanted the savings from the health -- from healthcare -- because he was so overconfident. Infrastructure would've been the way to go because, you know, it would've been really hard for Democrats. Like if you're promising, I don't know, congress people from Michigan like new pipes in Flint and all this stuff even if they hate the president that would've been really hard to say no to. And now it's hard to see what they can say yes to at all.



Aminatou: Oi!

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: How's it going?

Ann: Oh, you know, I'm like luxuriously having my space heater on even though it's not that cold out. Like that's all that's happening here.

Aminatou: Yo, let me tell you, I installed a Nest by myself this weekend and I feel like I learned so much shit about thermostats. Insane.

Ann: Does this involve something more than just sticking it on your wall? Did you like have to do things with wires?

Aminatou: Oh my god, so here's the problem: when they say that it takes like no more than 30 minutes, so you're lead to believe that, I don't know, 28 of those minutes is configuring your Wi-Fi or whatever, not true.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: When I took off the old thermostat cover nothing looks like it was supposed to in the pictures so I panicked. I was just like oh my god, now there's a gaping hole in the wall. Panic moment. And then I had not turned off the electricity or like the breaker or whatever.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: Because it's hard to figure out where the breaker goes, but also the instructions are really unclear about this. And then it wasn't until I was reading the Internet that all these bros were like "Make sure you turn off your power," and it was like this bitch did it with the power on.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: Nobody died.

Ann: You're still here. Yeah.

Aminatou: It ended up in almost near tears and having to Skype with like a pro who the minute I showed him my thermostat was like "This thermostat's been broken for at least 30 years." [Laughter]

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: He's like "How are your energy bills?" and I was like "Out of control! That's why I'm putting the Nest in." And he was like that's good. So then I just like figured it out. It's like not that many wires at all; it's just that my case was problematic. But I just feel very accomplished. Last year I like hung up my TV on the wall myself, now this Nest. I just -- I feel like I'm unstoppable. Next stop, I'm going to build my own house.


Ann: Oh my god, with YouTube tutorials anything is possible.

Aminatou: I know! Everything on YouTube. [Laughs]

Ann: I mean, but does this mean that now hackers can use your Nest to like, you know, shut down the Internet?

Aminatou: 100%. Next time Russia tries to interfere with our elections they're going to go through my Nest. And I just ordered the Nest -- the smoke detector, and I'm getting all of it. It's perfect.

Ann: Oh my god, there's a Nest smoke detector? Listen, like I can't even . . .

Aminatou: Yeah, it has like its own name. I feel like -- this is not spon-con, so it's hard talking about all this stuff.

Ann: [Laughs] This is just home improvement.

Aminatou: Yeah, this is just home improvement. Yeah, Nest has their own smoke detector. I'm really -- I don't know. It's like something happened where I was like I want to put as much of my house on my phone as possible, all of this to say that one day the Wi-Fi will go down in Brooklyn and like . . .

Ann: What do you mean one day? Doesn't it go down with regularity?

Aminatou: And I'll just like die inside my own house. It's like the CO2 detector won't work and then I won't be able to open the door and then the Nest will like electrocute me.

Ann: Oh my god, I'm stressing out. The very thought is stressing me.

Aminatou: I know. And then my like drop-cams will just beam into Russia. It's like that's exactly what's going to happen.

Ann: On the upside we now have clips if we ever do get some sort of home energy advertiser. [Laughs] Just cut-and-paste from this podcast.

Aminatou: We need home energy, dawg. I applied for the rebate at Con-Ed and everything.

Ann: I know. I mean I love that feeling too of like I did a DIY thing that seemed before I started to be beyond my capabilities but I figured it out with the help of the Internet/some Skype intervention, you know?

Aminatou: Seriously. I knew I was really stressed out when afterwards I like sat down and one tiny tear just like trickled down and I cried. [Laughs] Then I got ice cream.

Ann: Like a single sad Jordan tear?

Aminatou: Yeah, then I got ice cream and I was just like where is my HGTV show, dawg? This is crazy.

Ann: Oh my god, yeah, where is the HGTV show where there's not an expert host, it's just like one lady . . .

Aminatou: It's just me. It's just like single lady with ice cream.

Ann: Single lady with ice cream and YouTube tutorials.

Aminatou: Yeah, trying to change a light bulb. Then you text everyone you know, you're like "Excuse me, guys, I did this today." [Laughs]

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: All day.

[Music and ads]


Ann: Meanwhile the other branch of the grifting family, what's up with Ivanka and Jared?

Aminatou: Oh my god, Jivanka, those two are 100% going to jail.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: Jivanka are going to jail and then like the path is being set. So Ivanka's like bored of selling shoes and dresses/the shoes and dresses business is not doing well.

Ann: Yeah, it turns out a gaggle of conservative ladies going to Macy's and making videos of themselves buying your terrible accessories is not a way to revive a brand.

Aminatou: Right. So now she's like moonlighting as a White House official. It's terrible because again it goes back to them lying. It's like remember way back when during the transition there were all these stories about how the president applied for clearance for Jivanka, for Secret Service clearance, and then they were like "Fake news. It's not true." And then it turns out it was actually true; they were just waiting for the blowback to die down. They've been holding an office for her the whole time. No offense to Ivanka but it's really fucking offensive to me [Laughs] that she is taking the job of somebody who could be way more qualified than her to do this job. It's like actually this is everything that feminism is outraged by. Like this is nuts.

Ann: I feel like this administration has proven to be uniquely terrible at appointing anyone who's qualified full-stop, so in a way I'm like oh, yeah, she's terrible. Whoever else would have been terrible. But for me it's more just like recognizing. Can you imagine some extended Obama or Robinson family member getting a White House office during the last administration?

Aminatou: They should've given Sasha the Department of Labor to run. It's like I don't know what qualifies any of these Trump children. They all work for their father which is the biggest nepotism grift in the world. [Sighs] It's so offensive because they lie so much about it and then they just make the country look like a Banana Republic. It's crazy. It's like the president just goes "Talk to my kids." And everybody knows how the game is played. It's like you know this is exactly what happens to developing countries, right? But so anyway, Jared, first of all Jared runs everything. Jared's going to fix the Middle East. Jared is the point person for foreign policy. Jared is like the shadow Rex Tillerson. Like Rex Tillerson doesn't have a job because Jared is doing his job. Like it's crazy.

Ann: Rex Tillerson doesn't even want to be here. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Oh my god, pause. Did you see that story of how Mrs. Rex Tillerson is who made him . . . 

Ann: Mrs. Tillerson was like "You have to take this important job," and he was like "Okay."

Aminatou: Yeah. And she was like "God's not done with you." And I'm like what are you talking about? He was the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world. He did his time!

Ann: Big misread of God's will. That's what I have to say about that. [Laughs]

Aminatou: I know, but now look. It's like you hire a fucking gas attendant to be Secretary of State, and every day we're inching closer to war in North Korea. It's like the news is so alarming. It's just like Rex Tillerson took a nap because he was tired. Next thing you know it's like North Korea launches missile, testing, blah, blah, blah. So anyway Jared is doing everything and now he is also running some sort of incubator in the government which is so offensive first of all because they were trying to sell it as like a this will be a council that's run by all people who have no government experience. And you're like well, let's see how that works out for all of you.


Ann: Isn't that the whole executive branch at this point? People with no government experience?

Aminatou: I know! But also here's the thing: we know that Trump can't run a business. Jared's entire business experience is inheriting a business from his dad because his dad went to jail for setting a honeypot for his uncle. Like this is not okay. These people do not know what they're doing and now they're in charge of actual real life.

Ann: Yeah, that is the least innovative business story in American history, like inherited business after familial drama. Inherited new position because I married into another powerful family.

Aminatou: Oh my god.

Ann: But in this Washington Post article about this new office there's this quote from him, "The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers who are the citizens."

Aminatou: We're not customers!

Ann: I know, we're your fucking bosses! I'm like you work for us. Like we don't buy shit from you, like you work for us to provide fundamental services because we pay taxes. We pay you. Like seriously, I can't even. Ugh.

Aminatou: Ann, the grift is so good. These people are really going to come out like billionaires like after all the dust has settled. It's like they went in not as rich as they claim to be. They're going to come out like rich as fuck.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: It is nuts. But here's the other tea is that Jared is -- like congress is subpoenaing to come testify, because apparently he's part of Russiagate too.

Ann: Of course he is. Of course he is. This is like . . .

Aminatou: Oh my god. It's like Jared, your dad went to jail. Don't follow in his footsteps. I'm telling you, this whole thing is going to end with Jivanka in jail. Like Barron's going to be the only one not in jail.

Ann: I mean, yeah, it is actually just straight-up textbook Banana Republic stuff and I'm not talking about midpriced workwear. Like this is like, you know, textbook. This is what it means when your government is not actually a functioning democracy.

Aminatou: Right, it's like talk to my son-in-law. And also if you look at Jared's portfolio I'm not kidding, he's literally running everything. It's like Jared's going to fix the Middle East. Tremendous. Jared's going to fix veterans. Tremendous. Jared's going to fix -- he's going to figure out the money for the wall. Jared's going to talk to the Russian spies. Jared's going to . . . and it's like can Jared live?

Ann: I mean only in jail can Jared live. That's like the punch line of that.

Aminatou: Oh my god, it's like all of this . . . so all of this to say they're not getting anything done. We're not better off for it, but it's like all of the Machiavellian, like oh my god these people are so evil feelings that I have have dissipated somewhat. I'm just like no, these people are just really dumb. They're still going to hurt us a lot, but my god they're so dumb.


Ann: I know. Here's the thing: if you don't have a job description and if you don't have a job title and you can't explain what you're here to do there are bigger organizational problems than just you. And, you know, that is like totally the Jivanka situation to a T. Like everything about her office is oh, an undefined role to do her advocacy work. Like what does that even mean? I don't know.

Aminatou: I'm about to blow your mind.

Ann: Hit me.

Aminatou: Hold please. Hold please. I need to do a deep Google. Give me one second.

Ann: A pause button Google. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Pause button. Thank you Liz Plank at vox.com. This was the one hit that came up for it. Ivanka did this campaign way back when where she was encouraging other women to share their job titles.

Ann: What? Oh my god.

Aminatou: Yeah, it said -- here we go: "Record yourself saying your extended job title followed by your name and actual job title," reads a post on her website advertising a campaign that encourages women to state all their roles, even the ones that extend beyond the workplace. Post the video to your social channels and tag a few women who inspire you to encourage them to follow suit. Be sure to hashtag #womenwhowork and tag @ivankatrump. I don't forget anything.

Ann: I mean this is the thing too, though. Like all of Trump's tweets about the stuff he is or isn't going to do when it doesn't match up with reality, like seeing her do that. I mean I guess we need to all be asking her to share her job title, just like sending that post back at her. [Laughs]

Aminatou: I know! I'm like going to put this. I hope Gina plays the audio for this but it's like really sweet.

Audio clip: This brand is a celebration of women who work. This is like a good therapy session because it's not just about the nine-to-five; it's about having a full life. Live to the fullest. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We invite you all to join the conversation and let's show the world what it looks like to be a woman who works.

Aminatou: It's crazy. Also here's the other thing in Cheeto Watch that's actually my favorite thing is how they're just lying about the president playing golf every weekend. [Laughs]

Ann: Oh my god, the golf cart budget? The $16,000 golf cart budget. Is that what you're referring to?

Aminatou: The fact that every time that he's playing golf they lie that he's in meetings and they won't let the press pool or anything. But all of these Republican dude bros keep geotagging him at his properties so it's like the president's in meetings, then it's like I just saw a picture on Instagram where he's wearing a golf club. That one I only say would give him the benefit of the doubt. But then this one this weekend was like amazing. It was like he was wearing golf cleats. [Laughs] He was in a golf cart. And they're just like "Uh, the president?" They're like "Yeah, the president is playing . . . the president is taking meetings." And I'm like just say he's bored and he's fucking playing golf, which is so rich because they all went after Obama playing golf every once in a while. And Trump, it's like you've been president for eight weekends. Eight weekends in a row you've gone on vacation.


Ann: One of my favorite results of this phenomenon is did you see this bill that Democrats have introduced called the Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act? The MARALAGO Act? [Laughs]

Aminatou: Oh my god, give that staffer a fucking raise. So good.

Ann: Oh my god. Basically disclosing the name of anyone who visits the White House or, quote, "any other location at which the president or the vice president regularly conducts official business," a.k.a. the golf realness bill. Like admit to it.

Aminatou: They're just liars! Like big-time liars.

Ann: Hmm.

Aminatou: And they lie like the way that nine-year-olds lie. It's like here, yeah, my dad works at Nintendo. Sure. Like why would you do that?

Ann: Like I don't know why my friend is tagging me. I wasn't there. Meanwhile there's a photo. [Laughs]

Aminatou: I just don't -- I don't get it at all. Well, I get it. It's just like pathologically dishonest people. But at the same time it's just like you know we have two eyes, right? Here's the president and head-to-toe Nike golf attire. Of course he's golfing.


Aminatou: Did I tell you how finally I rewatched like All the President's Men?

Ann: No, you didn't tell me this.

Aminatou: Oh my god, Ann. So first of all it's actually like a really good rewatch in this age. I just have forgotten. I have forgotten so much, because clearly when I watched it I was like too young to understand the real life implications of this. But it's like you know what? Watergate was really boring. Like very, very, very, very boring. They like caught everybody via meeting in parking garages and writing boring articles for like two years.

Ann: Well yeah, or also just like thinking about the level of offense versus what the FBI is currently looking into with regards to Russia. I don't know, the scope is also so different. It's pretty incredible. Like not just the tactics for exposing it.

Aminatou: Yeah, and it was just very run of the mill like somebody lied and the coverup is hell. Like everybody came down. But also really it's because like Nixon was a son of a bitch, you know? And I was just watching it. I was like man, this is giving me hope. Who knows? We might be stuck with Trump for four years but he's definitely going to go down and he's going to go down very hard and it's going to be beautiful to watch.


Ann: I hope -- I so, so hope that you are right. And in fact the fact that you believe that's true is going to get me through at least a few other weeks of this news cycle.

Aminatou: Because here's the thing, I just don't see an alternative and I don't think it's going to be like Tiffany's going to drop off his tax returns at the New York Times wearing a hoodie and sunnies and then like that will be the smoking gun or whatever. Here's a man who has said the most egregious things and done the most egregious things and still was elected president. But the only way that I can believe the American project is ultimately good is that we cannot stand for this long-term.

Ann: I know, but that was a thing people said before the election. Like the only thing that would make me believe the American project is not bankrupt is for this person to not get the nomination or not get elected. 

Aminatou: No, no, no. 

Ann: People totally said similar versions of that. 

Aminatou: Elections -- elections just need Russia to interfere and everything is lost. It's like that's fine. That was the Russia factor. 

Ann: It was just a selective hacking issue. 

Aminatou: Yeah, that was a selective hacking issue. That's what I'm going to believe. But just, you know, it's like running for office and being in office are like two very different beasts and so far it's like the swamp is draining him. 

Ann: Ooh.

Aminatou: Everybody is like quitting. 

Ann: Love it. 

Aminatou: Everybody is quitting or getting fired. And also the noose is tightening around some of these people. Like the Russia stuff is kind of incredible, the Russia/Turkey stuff. It's like how could you let Mike Flynn get a cabinet position when you knew that he was a foreign agent? Because they knew. They like 100% knew. Still let him. And then now he's billing people $500,000 for work he did on Turkey. Like that's wild.

Ann: You mean innovating? Maybe he needs an office of innovation.

Aminatou: Oh my god.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: Meanwhile Mike Flynn, Jr. is still losing it on Twitter. Like ugh, my favorite drive-by every couple days.

Ann: Oh my god, I didn't even . . . this is something I'm not even clued into. It's like the next generation of despots.

Aminatou: Yeah, this is deep. This is deep. If you're not like there, don't go there.

Ann: I'm going to remain firmly here and not go there.

Aminatou: Yeah. Mike Flynn, Jr. is not somebody you need to know. All of this to say it's going to happen. It's going to happen because they're digging their own graves. It's really easy not to run afoul of some of these ridiculous government rules and instead they're just like nope, we're not keeping records. Yeah, we're going to lie to the FBI. Yeah, we're all going to turn up in Russia. Yeah, it's crazy.


Ann: Right.

Aminatou: Ugh, let's see. But four years is a long time so we'll see. We'll see.

Ann: I hope to goddess that you are right. That's all I have to say.

Aminatou: That or really our last hope is Tiffany and her mom. It's like who knows? Maybe they will grow a conscience.

Ann: Here's hoping.

Aminatou: Here's to hoping, or they'll just be tired of being ignored.

Ann: [Laughs] I think that's more likely. It's like a last-ditch tantrum for attention.

Aminatou: Totally. It's like Tiffany's not invited to the state dinner and it's like that's the undoing of the entire regime.

Ann: It's true. I hope that Trump is sending them some nice off-the-record gifts and perks because that's the key for him.

Aminatou: Oh my god, the lowest point though of all of this was the Angela Merkel visit. Like . . . 

Ann: Oh, I can't.

Aminatou: How embarrassing. No home training, this president.

Ann: Part of it is like, okay, Angela is not only holding together the entire European continent.

Aminatou: Entire continent.

Ann: She has to come sit across from this preschooler and have him not even talk to her in terms of what's happening in real time in geopolitics.

Aminatou: Wouldn't shake her goddamn hand.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: Wouldn't shake her hand, like what kind of child? And then people are saying -- we don't know if this is real or not, but people are saying . . . sources.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: People are saying that he gave her a bill for NATO. Does he know . . .

Ann: Okay, this is unsubstantiated.

Aminatou: Well it was in a British newspaper and people are saying it, Ann. I don't know if it's fake news or not.

Ann: I do not believe stuff published in the British press over the weekend.

Aminatou: Wow. [Laughs]

Ann: Going to need a confirmation of that during the work week. I'm sorry.

Aminatou: But listen, not me, Ann. People are saying -- I'm quoting other people.

Ann: Oh my god. You're joining their ranks right now. That's all I've got to tell you.

Aminatou: But he gave her a bill. But that story just made me laugh because it makes everybody . . . like, you know, it's like obviously do not believe that this happened because it was not substantiated. But I love the idea of a rich person just like billing somebody for something they don't owe him, and also it's like hi, you know NATO is not one big bank account that we all write rent into every month, right? That's not how that works.

Ann: That's not how NATO works despite what your weird Republican listservs have told you what NATO is. That is not what NATO is.

Aminatou: Oh my god, it is not. That's like the indignity of it. Ugh.

Ann: I know. I mean it's sort of like me going into work and using a desk and then sending a rental bill for the desk to my employer or something, like it's not even . . .

Aminatou: So tacky.

Ann: This is just the basic -- this is just your job right now.

Aminatou: I love the idea of one big NATO bank account though. It's just like hello, everybody, it's bill time.

Ann: Ugh.

Aminatou: Oh, this is a good time though to plug an Instagram account I like a lot, @merkellooks.

Ann: Oh my god, yes.

Aminatou: So strong. The looks are so strong. It's like, you know, here is Angela Merkel who is a fucking physicist, right? Some sort of pretty amazing scientist. And she has to talk to this like second-rate golfer and he wouldn't shake her hand. It makes me so angry.


Ann: I mean I also -- that's actually a nice reminder too. I've been trying to tell a lot of women in my life that they should run for office lately. I've been doing some hard thinking about who I know and who I want to run. And I've got to say that I don't have enough science women in my world, but when I've been thinking about the type of person I want governing, I mean . . .

Aminatou: Science ladies!

Ann: It's no coincidence that a woman of science is holding together an important continent, you know what I mean?

Aminatou: Yeah, it's like it's just her. It's like, man, history is pretty funny. It's like look at Germany, the last bastion of liberal democracy. Who would've thunk?

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: It's going to be okay. The next big fight that we have coming is April 28th which is when the debt ceiling essentially runs out.

Ann: Oh my god, again? Not the debt ceiling again.

Aminatou: I know, I'm so bored by the debt ceiling. But get this: it all hinges on like defunding Planned Parenthood so that's going to be really fun to be angry about.

Ann: Yay, that again. Also sick of that.

Aminatou: It's literally in four weeks and the drama of it is amazing because what is Paul Ryan going to do, right? He can probably get the House to vote for defunding Planned Parenthood because everybody in the House is a fucking idiot and they just know that they're playing checkers all the time. But it's not going to pass the Senate, so it's like what does he do, right? Does he let the thing pass and then fail in the Senate which is another failure for him or does he try to convince his ragtag team of crazy people who have all run on defunding Planned Parenthood not to do it? Drama. It's going to be amazing.

Ann: I'm really glad one of us is looking forward to it.

Aminatou: This week I'm really enjoying the resistance. Like I realize what was up with all these tea partiers. It's like yelling at people that you're angry at feels incredible.

Ann: Well . . .

Aminatou: Not to make light of this. This is like a big deal for Planned Parenthood, so if you're having calling fatigue you'd better take a deep breath because the next four weeks are going to be nuts. Yeah, it's like we are all going to the mat for Planned Parenthood.

Ann: I've got to tell you regarding calling fatigue I have moved to an email and fax-based mode of contacting people because I had gotten too many full inboxes which doesn't log the call at all.

Aminatou: Ooh, can I tell you something? You're not going to like this. Here's the problem with faxing: it doesn't work with most options. They offer the option, but people don't . . . so faxing is good if it's in addition to your calling. On its own, not good.

Ann: I'm just saying after enough full voicemail boxes and being like oh, I'm taking the time to dial in and read the script and not even getting to leave the message I just fully transitioned.

Aminatou: Ugh. It's okay. It looks like we're probably going to be protesting in the streets soon so don't worry. That's like a high-touch . . .

Ann: High-touch problem.

Aminatou: Yeah. It's like we heard from the Soros people. Our checks are coming and we're all marching soon. It's cool.



Ann: On a related note, listener Terri wrote about a question we took in a previous episode about tracking legislation from several states at once.

Aminatou: Oh, yeah.

Ann: And mentioned something that I knew and had totally forgot, but the Sunlight Foundation has an app called Open States which is openstates.org and there's also a new one that's essentially promoting getting in contact more often with your state legislators which is ourstates.org. So openstates.org and ourstates.org are two if you want to stay on top of how the Cheeto's agenda is playing out in your backyard.

Aminatou: Rad.

Ann: Pro tips.

Aminatou: Rad, rad, rad. Okay, you said you had two updates? Or those are the two updates?

Ann: Yes. There's one other email I wanted to read. So when we asked for stories from the women's strike we got one late-breaking in email that I really love as a way of thinking beyond just defending the kind of inadequate policies we have now and imagining the amazing utopian world we actually want to live in. So listener Alexandra writes "I work at a small POC-owned web development school and consultant company in Omaha, Nebraska. Earlier this month I was feeling conflicted and unsure of how to go about participating in the women's strike. I asked my boss about the logistics of taking the day off and they responded by announcing a new additional category of paid time off for employees. They added two days of PTO for social justice/civic engagement of any kind so that employees do not have to take out sick, parental, or vacation leave to stay engaged."

Aminatou: Whoa.

Ann: Isn't that awesome?

Aminatou: That's awesome. That's a great company.

Ann: I know. And so, yeah, they are apparently called Big Wheel Brigade in Omaha, Nebraska. And I love that idea too of being like okay, at a time when not everyone even has guaranteed paid time off for these fundamental caregiving or sickness illness reasons that there are some companies that are living in the future who are like actually civic engagement is really important. So in theory you could take this time to vote or to, you know, show up at your legislator's office or to show up at a march or rally or to show up in court to support someone who's needing a visible presence there. I just love it so much and it really made me feel great about the world.

Aminatou: That is great. Some other exciting news is Tom Price's seat in Georgia is really, really, really competitive and the Democrat might even win.

Ann: Stop. In Georgia? Incredible.

Aminatou: In Georgia, that's right. Friend of the podcast Jon Ossoff who is running -- true story. The election is April 18th but I believe that early voting has started so if you have north of Atlanta friends tell them to start voting now. This is really exciting. It's like what would be the biggest give the finger to everybody involved in the healthcare debacle than by giving away Tom Price's seat? Also Tom Price will end up in jail. That's another one of my cockamamie predictions.

Ann: I love it.


Aminatou: Going to end up in jail. It's going to be grea.t But yeah, so this is super, super exciting. You can give money. This campaign is doing really well. They have something like 7,000 volunteers which is great. It's like if you have time and you want to go down there or up there, go for it. This seat could really go to a Democrat, we are so close.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: I'm excited about this race.

Ann: Yeah, totally. And I think that's going to start happening more and more, like there are -- I don't know, we're going to talk about this more in a future episode about running for office and about open seats. I've been very heartened to see the outpouring of support for candidates outside of traditionally Democratic districts.

Aminatou: Yep. If you are even remotely thinking about running for office you should email us and tell us why or why not. If there's a race near you that you're tracking that you think should be on our radar you should email us too. I'm really curious to hear it. I'm excited to do that episode soon.

Ann: Yes, totally.


Aminatou: Oh my god, DJ Khaled is talking to his son again. This makes me so happy.

Ann: Okay, digression. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Sorry. I'm just like as sad as it is, he's the best child. He's the best celeb child. Who knew? Who knew?

Ann: I'm not even going to go there because that's a whole other can of worms about Blue Ivy and other celeb children that I'm very interested in.

Aminatou: Listen, you know I love Blue Ivy but she didn't produce a song with Beyonc on it at three months old. That's all I'm saying. [Laughs]

Ann: Okay, I'm out. I'm done.

Aminatou: The biggest freaking baby in the game.

Ann: I'm so done right now.

Aminatou: I'm sorry, you just have to see these pictures of him on the private jet where he just flies . . .

Ann: Hanging up. Goodbye.

Aminatou: And imagine DJ Khaled was your dad. It's the most smothering -- like lovingly smothering parent you can have.

Ann: I've seen how that man treats his flowers. I can't even imagine what it's like to be his son.

Aminatou: [Laughs] I don't know. It's also taken me for a loop because you know I'm not easily impressed by affection towards children. I can't handle it.

Ann: I know. When are we going to have the first jet ski while wearing a baby bjorn snap?

Aminatou: Oh my gosh, it's the best. Look at him just pulling this baby off a private jet. I'm so done. [Laughs]

Ann: Also how did you manage to bring this up just as I was ready to sign off? Now I'm just like all I want to do is talk about representations of fatherhood.

Aminatou: I was closing my browser and there it was! You're a guest right now.

Ann: Just full-stop. Full-stop on . . . yeah.

Aminatou: Ann, you're heartless. I'm telling you, just spend five minutes on Asahd content and tell me it doesn't change your life. His Instagram is lit.

Ann: Pre-verbal babies just don't do it for me, even famous pre-verbal babies. I'm sorry.

Aminatou: He produced a song!

Ann: Okay, factcheck.org. I cannot even. I cannot.

Aminatou: He did produce a song. Oh my god, Gina, I'm going to send you the audio of DJ Khaled discussing . . .

Ann: Gina, don't do it. Don't take the bait.

Aminatou: Take the bait. Discussing how Asahd produced the song, it kills me.

[Clip plays]



Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, at our website callyourgirlfriend.com, download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or on iTunes where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or email us at callyrgf@gmail.com. You can also find us on Facebook -- look it up yourself -- or on Instagram at @callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn. All other music you heard today was composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. This podcast is produced by the most beautiful producer in the world Gina Delvac.

Ann: Ugh. Okay, see you on the Internet.

Aminatou: Just wait until Asahd offers to produce this podcast.

Ann: No, we have a producer and she's a competent adult and I love her. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Oh my god. Open your mind. Open your heart, Ann.