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Bluff The Listener

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Charlie Pierce, Roxanne Roberts, and Brian Babylon. And, here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT.

JEFF CRIMMEL: Hi, this is Jeff Crimmel. I live in San Felipe in Mexico.

SAGAL: Oh really?

CRIMMEL: And I had to probably move to Mexico just to get on your show.

SAGAL: Really? So what do you do in Mexico?

CRIMMEL: Well, I'm a retired teacher, a special ed teacher and I'm now an author who's been writing books. I don't have a lot of distractions down here, so I have plenty of time to do it.

SAGAL: Really, what kind of books are you writing down there?

CRIMMEL: Fiction and nonfiction.


SAGAL: That about covers the waterfront right there.

CRIMMEL: It does.


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

KASELL: The results are inconclusive, Peter.

SAGAL: When you hear 'government probe' you probably think, you know, aliens at Roswell or who shot JFK, boring stuff like that. Well, this week, we heard about a truly interesting government study. Each of our panelists are going tell you about an inquiry carried out by our government. Only one of them, though, is real. Pick that real one; you will win Carl's voice on your voicemail. You ready to go?

CRIMMEL: I'm ready.

SAGAL: Let's hear first from Charlie Pierce.

CHARLIE PIERCE: One of the great mysteries of rock and roll may soon be solved, thanks to the folklorists at the Smithsonian Institution. In 1961, Barry Mann and the Halos had a hit with "Who Put the Bomp in the Bomp da Bomp." This was widely thought to have been a rhetorical question.


PIERCE: But a recently discovered letter from the song's composer Gerry Goffin to his future wife Carole King indicates that Goffin found the basic lyric in a 1920 blues' 78 called "Bomp da Bomp Blues," on which the artist is listed as unknown.

Smithsonian researcher Wendy Whitney found the letter and is now in Mississippi searching for the name of the unknown artist. "Somewhere out there is the person who wrote 'Bomp da Bomp Blues'," Whitney said, and that person is the answer to the question we've been waiting 50 years for. As to who put the ram in the 'Rama Lama Ding Dong," scholars remain divided.


SAGAL: The Smithsonian trying to find out.


SAGAL: At long last, who put the bomb da bomp bomp. Your next story of a probe of the non-alien variety comes from Brian Babylon.

BRIAN BABYLON: Everybody knows that the military is having trouble finding recruits. Why? Because the young people of today are wasting their time, sitting inside playing video games. But if you can't beat them, why not invite them to join you? In a new study, the US Army formed a special commando unit of expert Call of Duty players. They're calling them FTBs, a military term for "fat teenage boys."


BABYLON: Said Captain Greta Fairbanks, "They may not be able to do a single pushup, but boy those FTBs can shoot." But it hasn't been a total success. First of all, they think if they die they'll come back to life. But the bigger problem, Captain Fairbanks says is "War does not stop for Doritos breaks."


SAGAL: A study to see if video game players would be good at the actual thing. And lastly, let's hear a story of an inquiring government from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: You know all those studies with strange and dubious conclusions? Wonder how much it costs for all that research? So did the feds, who commissioned what else: a study to determine the price to produce all those studies.


ROBERTS: It all started in 2010 when then Defense Secretary Bob Gates complained about the explosion and cost of Pentagon reports and studies. Then the GAO decided to study the Pentagon's study of its studies. The first study, the study of the studies, not the study of the study of the studies...


ROBERTS: Was found to be ineffective, according to the study of the study of the studies reports Agency News. The Defense Department, quote, "partially concurs" with the latest study findings and has yet to determine if they will commission a study of the study of the study of the studies.



SAGAL: All right. One of these is a real government inquiry. Is it from Charlie Pierce: a scholarly investigation from the Smithsonian of who put the bomp in the bomp da bomp bomp? From Brian Babylon: a pilot study to see if video game warriors can become real ones? Or from Roxanne Roberts: a study of a study of studies from the government?

CRIMMEL: Well, being a child of the 60s, the bomp da bomp and the bomp da bomp bomp is my choice, because I hope that's the one answer.

SAGAL: You're going to choose Charlie's story of research...


SAGAL: All right, that's your choice. You picked Charlie's story. Well, we actually have somebody discussing this study on TV.

JOHN FUND: Well, he said I don't think we're getting our money's worth and I don't think we're studying the things we should be studying. So let's have a study to see how we can get better studies or figure out how to get rid of the studies we're doing.

SAGAL: That was the American Spectators pundit John Fund, talking to Fox News about the GAO's study of the study of studies. I'm sorry; Jeff, but Roxanne Roberts obviously had the real answer. Too real, but still frightening I think.

CRIMMEL: Very good.


CRIMMEL: Thank you.

SAGAL: I'm sorry you didn't win, but you did earn point for Charlie for his excellent story. And perhaps some day, now you have your free time as a retiree, you can find out who put the bomp in the bomp da bomp da bomp.

CRIMMEL: I'm looking right now.

SAGAL: All right, thank you so much.


(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.