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That's zip recruiter dotcom slash crooked. Welcome to Pots of America. I'm Dan Pfeiffer, and I'm Melissa M. Monaco. Alyssa is filling in for Jon Favreau, who, as many of you probably know in perfect Thursday podcast form. Jon Favreau had their baby immediately after Tommy and I finished recording Thursday POB. Charlie Favreau is happy, healthy and adorable.


And Jon is obviously taking a little time to adjust to his new life as a dad.


Melissa, thanks for filling in. I'm squatting. I'm never leaving.


You're always welcome. That is my real life. Thanks. Later in the pot, Alison are going to take some of your most pressing questions about the upcoming V.P. announcement and so much more.


But first, we're going to talk about why Trump is having a self-involved meltdown as the country surpasses 150000 covid deaths as we bid a fond farewell to the bright but brief new tonier in American politics.


Before we get to that, some housekeeping notes. I don't know if you had a chance to listen to God save the world this week, but Tommy and Ben did a little they kind of stepped on our that's the ticket corner.


I did listen. And, you know, we were so good they had to get up in our jam.


I understand. I understand. Look, we appreciate all VP talk. So Tommy and Ben got a little pissed at the way pundits were talking about Susan Rice's VP prospects. So they made the case for why she would be a great pick. Then they discussed how Trump's donors turned ambassadors are acting crazy on the semesters abroad and been interviewed. Israeli news anchor Yonit Levy about the ongoing anti Netanyahu protests elicited, you know, that we are officially less than 100 days away from the election.


I did.


Did you know that because you were looking at the calendar? Because everyone with any association with Wikimedia has been tweeting about it incessantly since Sunday.


Check and check. Yes.


Do you think one hundred days is a long time or a short time in our quarantine life? So I've been quarantined upstate for 131 days, so it's a month less than that, but still hard to say, I feel like a lot can happen. A lot has happened since I got up here. A lot can happen before Election Day.


Yes, time has time has no meaning but has no meaning. Rousing up against a lot in this election between voter suppression, the pandemic, completely crazy president.


But right now we're in the middle of the every last vote week of action to fight back and make sure that every last vote is counted. We're going to need every single one to win this election. Over this week, we'll be asking you to volunteer, donate what you can and specifically request your ballot by mail. Earlier this week was a totally real and not made up holiday called National Vote by Mail Day.


If you had to vote, save America dotcom slash every last vote you can.


Request your ballot now and get it done early. While you're there, you can sign up to call or text young voters in swing states and tell them to do the same. This election will come down to every last vote and we can't afford to lose. A single one had to vote, save America dotcoms every last vote for everything you can do to help.


I also want to flag something that our friend and the author of the new book, she proclaims, Jennifer Palmieri, texted me yesterday because I think this was her submitting for the mailbag. But because she's a friend and this is very important, we're going to move it to the very important housekeeping section. She sent me a tweet from Democratic lawyer and our friend, Marc Elias, that according to the Civic Center, voter registration rates in April and May of 2020 have plummeted in relation to the rates in the same months in 2016, the declines in voter registration rates have been as significant as 75 percent in some states.


This is obviously a result in some ways of the pandemic, but is very distressing. Please go check if you're registered and help your friends and your family register and vote. Save America dot com or adopt the state program. Also have some voter registration calls to action so you can help get voters registered in six key battleground states. This is obviously some very concerning news, but it's something that we have time to do something about. So go to vote, save America dotcom and figure out how to do that.


Artosis. That was exhausting. And it's a reminder that John fight for his job every week as much harder than mine. But we will persevere.


All right.


As we discussed this week, Donald Trump's much lauded third new tone era came to an unsurprising close less than 10 days after he revived his coronavirus briefings and as the United States surpassed 150000 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday. On Monday, the president and Donald Trump Jr. both retweeted a video where a doctor promoted a completely disproven conspiracy theory that people do not need to wear masks because hydroxy chloroquine. Curis Coronavirus, the doctor featured in this video, has some pretty extreme views beyond her thoughts on covid, for example, and this is real.


She has said that gynecological problems are caused by people having sex with demons in their dreams and that alien DNA is being used in medical treatments.


That is a real thing. At his Tuesday briefing, a CNN reporter challenged Trump on his decision to retreat this video. This is how I responded.


The woman that you said was a great doctor. And that video that you retweeted last night said that mask don't work and there is a cure for covid-19, both of which health experts say is not true. She's also made videos saying that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens and that they're trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious. To saying maybe it's not, but I can't. I can tell you this. She was on air along with many other doctors.


They were big fans of hydroxy chloroquine. And I thought she was very impressive in the sense that from where she came, I don't know which country she comes from, but she said that she's had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. And I thought her voice was an important voice.


But I know nothing about her last week. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.


It might be hard to tell since this is an audio medium, but that was Trump walking out of the briefing immediately after being pressed on the topic.


Melissa, what is your reaction to our president spreading conspiracy theories from doctors who are concerned about demon sex? I had to watch the clip twice to understand how the demon sperm gives you fibroids insist during dream demon sex.


I mean, think about that for just a minute. Just a minute on the smart person, you know? And I was like, how does that happen? Now, imagine the president of the United States doesn't take the beat that I just took before retweeting something so utterly fucking insane. But my favorite is after he did it multiple times, he says, I know nothing about her. I know nothing about her. Like like he doesn't understand. The string of words he puts together in sentences are just there.


They're more disturbing than the demon sex. He I mean it like we are laughing.


And as we point out all the time around here, it's not funny because because we're laughing, it's sometimes easier than crying or at least preferable to crying.


I mean, it is embarrassing how irresponsible and stupid as when Tommy was on last week, he and I talked about the return of these briefings and how Trump got up there and told people at the briefing that kids could not catch coronavirus, which is why he was pushing to irresponsibly reopen schools.


Now, that is a piece of very dangerous misinformation. There is very limited research on this. There are some studies that show the exact opposite. The fact is we don't know. And when the United States stands before the nation and passes along.


False information, they could get people killed, and that's what this is doing. This is many, many more people will see this video because the president tweeted it because of the all the traffic it got on social media platforms.


It will not see the fact checks for it will not see even the president not really walking away from it, but sort of distancing himself as he slowly on national television realize the shame of his own stupidity and will believe that they don't have to wear a mask.


Right. You are doing something deeply interested.


And frankly, it still just points out what an absolute moron Trump is because.


As we have discussed before, the best way for him to get reelected is to get the virus under control. The best way to get the virus out of control is convince every single person in America to wear a mask. Yet he spends his time. Convincing people not to wear masks, therefore making the coronavirus worse, therefore making it less likely he gets re-elected. I mean, it is just another reminder that Trump is painfully stupid and America is massively suffering for this.


Yeah, I mean, yes, they are like I mean, think about it, the man can't get a convention because he literally if he had just told people to wear a mask, just like admitted that this virus was bad and that we were all going to have to work together to combat it.


I mean, it was like the jaws of life to get him to admit that he couldn't go to Jacksonville, which is like one of the top five states. Florida's one of the top five states that's spiking that has ICU beds. I like ICU beds are over capacity. And he just despite the fact that life and science and doctors tell him A is happening, he continues to track to Z. Yeah, it's I mean, it really it's mind boggling.


You know, we mentioned that this video got 20 million views on Facebook and elsewhere and took a very long and eventually was taken down by all of the major social media platforms, but way later than it should have been. Judd Lagom, who writes the newsletter Popular Information, pointed out that this video was originally a BreitBurn video and Breitbart is considered a news partner by Facebook, like Facebook has previously identified the promoter of this video as a trusted news partner, meaning that they feel like that information can and should be spread across Facebook to their audience.


I guess I should call people who read Facebook, except for probably misinformed, but a, why do you think the video got so much traffic even before Donald Trump and his idiot son got involved? And why do you think that these are the social platforms are still so bad at dealing with misinformation? I mean, I think that it got so many views for, like voyeurism, right, rights like a fucking accident, you can't look away. You're like, what?


What is this? Let me just check and. I mean, I only watched the first three minutes because I was afraid I was going to get demon sperm, so I'm like, well, backing away from this one. But, you know, I think that it's all the things that he retreats are so fantastical. They're so extraordinarily dumb. It's like you almost can't believe the president's still doing this. Let's see what he got up to today. And so, you know, even before he retweeted it, I think that it's just people are just like, why do people read the Enquirer still?


You know, I mean, I guess that's the big question, right?


Is this people who are reading this because are watching this and consuming it because it is. Completely absurd, and they're just sort of wallowing in the absurdity, as you say, much like the Enquirer, right, where it's like, you know, Ben Affleck's alien baby sort of story. Right.


Or are there people who. Are watching this because they trust Breitbart. They do not they are not savvy enough news consumers to be concerned to or are skeptical of videos they see on Facebook.


Are they people who are looking for a good news about this terrible situation we're in, right where it's like everything seems so bleak that, you know, while work is being done, a vaccine, it's obviously not coming anytime soon. Things are getting worse, not better in large parts of the country, much like Trump.


Right. Trump tweeted this video because he wants to convince people there is a quick fix. Right.


I think the people who are watching it, who aren't laughing at it will watch anything that they think is telling them what they want, like somehow like people are. So there is a pocket of people who are so resistant to wearing a mask because they think they're like being owned by the Libs and they'll watch anything or look like for any glimmer of hope or like information in quotes that they don't have to wear a mask, that someone is telling them what they want to hear.


I think that's a lot of it that they're like, see, also we can't be racist because she's a black lady, so fuck you.


Yeah, I guess there's that. I mean, it is like like part of this is obviously Trump.


I mean I mean, once again, it goes to just how simple minded he is, which is he went way out on a limb on Hydroxycut, Bachmann. He was proven wrong over and over again. And if he was capable of shame, would have been embarrassed about this. So every time he sees someone, anyone write real fake demons, firm believer otherwise who agrees with him, he will reach with them without any scrutiny.


And he has gotten himself in trouble so many times since he got in this race for just retweeting random people. Right. He's on conspiracy theories. He's done Nazis. You know, he's retweeting people who are kuhnen and promoted pizza over and over again.


He makes this way and he is incapable of learning from it. Right. He once again has spent another day and many more news cycles demonstrating to the country why he is doing a terrible job of.


Managing the biggest issue, people care about the greatest crisis, I think, in American history in nearly a century, and he just like the things he needs to do to fix his political problems is just do his job and he is utterly incapable of doing his job because he has never been interested in the actual job of president and that sort of being laid bare by all of this.


Can't you just imagine the conversations where they're like a, you could do your job? He's like, what's option B. Look like? He will do anything. It's and the funny thing is, like when you think about what it would have taken to really attack this covid crisis, it's not super complicated. Like you didn't have to be the brightest bulb to be like America, wear a mask, don't touch each other, stay home when you can and stay six feet apart.


Don't like each other. Don't make it look like it's not that hard. And it's like, you know, sometimes I was thinking, you know, for the past couple of years that, like the world, the Cosmos Karma was giving the American people a break because our president was so stupid they knew we couldn't answer the call if something truly terrible were to happen. And then they're like, we've had movies about this. There have been law and order episodes about coronaviruses.


Let's give him something that he can handle. And he was like, try again.


Yeah, he's incapable of doing the bare minimum that would be required to at least improve the situation. Right. There's lots of hard logistical challenges about dealing with shortages and PPE. And there's obviously a massive problem with testing backlogs, particularly in my state of California, where people are waiting seven to 10 days to get a test, which basically makes them useless. You know, like I had a friend with a child in preschool and one of the parents of the kids in his class tested positive for coronavirus.


So they shut the school down until the kid could get a test. And it took seven days for that kid to get a test back. So none of those kids could go to school for those seven days. Right.


And every time that happens, the schools like those are hard problems. But it's also notable that Trump is not trying to solve them. Right.


Like not even a little like not even making an effort.


Like, you know, it's funny what you said about, you know, you demonize violence. And he said, well, that's that is always funny.


But, you know, it's like the scene in The Departed that we talk about sometimes where Mark Wahlberg says, I'm the guy doing my job.


And then Trumpeter's raise his hand and say I'm the other guy, like with no shame, probably. Right. He's like, I got this far without doing an ounce of fucking work.


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Just to give you pause for one second.


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OK, if that was not all at this briefing the other day, in addition to trying to defend his conspiracy tweets, Trump also used his briefing to engage in some public wallowing not over the health and economic crisis the country is undergoing, but over his own popularity.


Let's take a listen to what he had to say.


Why don't I have a high approval rating with respect and the administration with respect to the virus, we should have a very high because what we've done in terms of we're just reading off about the masks and the gowns and the ventilators and numbers that nobody's seen and the testing at 55 million tests, we tested more than anybody in the world. I have a graph that I'd love to show you. Perhaps you've seen it where we're up here and the rest of the world is down at a level that's it, just a tiny fraction of what we've done in terms of testing.


So it sort of is curious. A man works for us with us very closely, Dr. Fauci and Dr. is also highly thought of. And yet they're highly thought of. But nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that's all. According to YouTube, you're officially a campaign expert.


Do you think it's a good idea to make yourself the victim in the week that 150000 American dies of coronavirus?


No. No, it's not. I do consider that a leading question. I think it's a question my cat could have answered because I was fairly alert and attuned to what's happening in the world.


I mean, buddy, can you even imagine if Barack Obama had gone out and been like, man, it's almost the election and we have a hurricane? I mean, like like like we would have we would have been like, yo, you should stay inside for the day. You should just, like, take it down. Trump can't.


It's like it's the narcissism, right, it's the most pathological form of his narcissism that he literally and we know that instead of sitting around with the very experts he's jealous of and saying, how do we kill this virus? He sits alone in the Oval Office and draws like doodles of like Dr. Fauci with devil horns because he's like, I can't believe no one likes me. Why doesn't anyone like me? He is literally Gargamel from the Smurfs where he is.


He sits in his tree and he's like, I can't believe it when, like, they're like actual problems that he's, like, not equipped to handle. So he focuses on why nobody likes him, but like, nobody likes him because, like, a lot of people are dying and it's kind of his fault. You know, the core of the argument that a lot of us have been arguing that Democrats should make against Trump for a long time is that it's always about Trump.


That is his mantra as Trump first, America last.


And this is the perfect example of it, which is given everything that's happening in this country, the massive amounts of tragedy happening right now. And it's not just it's coronaviruses, millions of people without jobs.


The we learned today that the gross domestic product dropped by more than 30 percent in the second quarter. To give you an example, the worst quarter of the Great Recession was a drop of, I think, eight and a half percent.


And in amidst all of that misery and anxiety and concern, he immediately focuses on his own poll numbers relative to his own advisers, not even his own poll numbers relative to Joe Biden's right.


Which at least you could argue would be about an election where he could pretend to think that, you know, substantive policy issues and the direction the country would say. He is concerned that a doctor who works for him is more popular than him as more trusted than him.


And that level of narcissism is simply incompatible with being for the United States. It just does not work.


And I mean, it's just truly stunning that he will continually do this.


Right. And as we get closer election, as his opposition gets worse, he is spiraling more out of control. Do you know, as you're watching this, do you think there's anything Trump could even possibly do to fix his political problems?


Legally, no, I mean either no, I mean, we'll get to some extra legal options that have been no.


I mean, look, here's the funny thing, too, you know, that when they were trying to spoon feed him this economic data this morning, that he was like, what do you mean we're winning?


Not as bad as the Depression? And they were like, they didn't collect that data back then. So you can't really make that comparison to there is. You know, the thing is, because one hundred days is still a lot of time for all intents and purposes, and because everybody's memory is so short, if he started crushing the pandemic, he could probably make up some ground, you know? I mean, it's like it it wouldn't be people.


This is the problem, not a problem. I think it's just a it's true. People want him to succeed because they don't want people to keep getting sick. And so I think that if he actually could put at least the American people on par with his political ambition, that he I do think that he could help himself. I don't think that he could, you know, get himself necessarily over the finish line, I hope. But I think if he actually, like, hunkered down, sat down and read a couple books, maybe talk to some scientists that he would actually listen to, he could make up ground if he actually came out with a national strategy to crush the coronavirus.


I mean, I am not saying Trump cannot win, because you are right, I would never say that. As you know, I tend to wallow in the dark side of things often when it comes to political elections.


Other than that, I'm a totally sunny person, totally but postcoital. I've been a senior person, I think, if not on the podcast in my day.


But, you know, because, like fundraises, as you said, a long time, Trump could get lucky, right? Things could get better. The American people could listen to Trump less governors who listen to Trump less.


And you could the coronavirus could get better, the economy could improve.


And that would certainly help Trump.


And Trump only needs to get to within, you know, three and a half to four and a half points of Biden in the polls, the national polls, to have a chance to have a very close, narrow Electoral College victory. Having said that.


Right, and then we have, I would say, massive amounts of uncertainty about and we'll talk about some of this when we get to the mailbag. But massive amounts of uncertainty about the counting of how an election is going to take place in the pandemic. Are we going to have enough poll workers to have enough polling places? Our mail ballot is going to be counted. We have a postal system that is collapsing before our eyes at the same time that we are depending on said postal service to deliver ballots on time.


Like lots of big questions here. I don't think there's anything that Trump himself can do to improve his focus.


Like he cannot change.


This is who looks like the circumstances around Trump can change because of the actions of other or just the world changing.


But he himself has proven time and again that he is just an absolutely miserable politician. He is too self-absorbed, I think.


And the thing that is so particular about this, whether he wins or loses, is not going to depend mostly on whether he gets the right slogan.


He comes up with a cool nickname for Joe Biden. He comes up with a good message.


What it's ultimately going depend on is him doing his job. And that is the one thing he has and can't do it.


He simply does not have the temperament, the intellectual capacity, the curiosity, the empathy to be the United States.


At this moment. You can fake it somewhat in times of peace and prosperity. But this is when real shit is happening.


People care and you have to do your job. People are going to judge you on that. And he cannot do his job. He simply cannot he could not go two weeks.


He can go two weeks with being serious about this, right?


I mean, honestly, the other thing you would say is, in addition to doing his job, I think he he can really do is shut up, stop talking, don't go to briefings, do interviews, stop tweeting crazy shit, just disappear into the background and let people do the work right. Don't be jealous of Dr. Phil.. She put him out every single day. Right.


Have a forward facing confidence, inspiring spokesperson for this. But he can't do it because it's coming out this week. Troub always thinks that more Trump is the solution when it's almost always the problem.


Right. All right.


As if all of this was not enough, Trump also disregarding the advice I just gave to shut the F up, did an interview with Axios Jonathan Swan on Tuesday.


The full episode won't air until next week, but Axios released a pretty astonishing clip on Wednesday morning. Last month, The New York Times published a groundbreaking investigative article that asserted that Russian government entities were paying bounties for members of the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan.


The Trump administration did basically diddly squat about it. Trump and his staff have since tried to deflect blame, claiming the president was not briefed on the intelligence, contradicting multiple government officials who have said it was absolutely included in the presidential daily briefing, which maybe he reads, maybe he doesn't. But since he doesn't read anything, he probably won't.


In the last month, the story has faded from headlines. But Swan asked Trump about it on Tuesday and whether the president had raised the issue with Vladimir Putin when they spoke on July 23. Here are some highlights of that exchange.


It's been widely reported that the US has intelligence indicating that Russia paid bounties or offered to pay bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American soldiers. You had a phone call with Vladimir Putin on July 20.


Did you bring up this issue? No, that was a phone call to discuss other things. And frankly, that's an issue that many people said was fake news. It never reached my desk. You know why? Because they didn't think it would intelligence. They didn't think it was real. It was a reason. They didn't think it was worthy of. I wouldn't mind if it reached my desk. I would have done something about it. It never reached my desk because.


Do you read your recent brief? I do. I read a lot. You know, I read a lot they like to say. I read I read a lot.


Former John Nicholson, former head of forces in Afghanistan, said and this is when he was working for you, that Russia is supplying weapons to the Taliban. Isn't that enough to challenge Putin over the killings?


Well, we supplied weapons when they were fighting Russia to, you know, when we were when they were fighting, when the Taliban went into Afghanistan. A different era. Well, it's a I'm just saying. Yes, but does that mean. No, I'm just saying we did that, Alissa.


I mean, that answer is obviously deeply absurd. And I think, frankly, quite offensive to a lot of people that he did not bring it up. He's obviously lied about it. I think, you know, impressive. I think Jonathan Swan pushed him on the point that he it was in his briefing book, which Trump is basically admitting you can bring this horse to water. But you can't make him drink, right? It's not it's not there like it may have been in the briefing book, but he certainly did not read it.


So maybe he's telling the truth about that. But that sort of speaks to a bigger problem. You know, it's it's good that I think it's good that this came up in this interview because it hasn't come up.


And, you know, a number of the other interviews Trump has done recently did not come up in his much lauded Fox News Sunday grilling from Chris Wallace.


You know, do you think this is an issue Democrats should continue to push? Oh, for sure, like abject like failure to to even do the bare minimum, to even like he approaches his job with less curiosity, then like I can't even come up with, what, less than he has no curiosity whatsoever.


When he talks about Russia, it's like he's Jan Brady saying, Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, he's so stupid.


I mean, he's just so stupid. And I think that it's important that. People keep making the point to maybe people who don't follow this news every day that he's he's literally just like. Opening the door, he's like Putin, here you go, don't care. Look, as long as we're good, I don't care what you do to everybody who's on the ground. And he.


He has talked to Putin eight times since this intelligence was in the report he did or did not read and never raised it, like that's fucking wild, like it's really wild, not even to be like, hey, stop doing that until after November. But he doesn't even he's not even, like, slick enough to do that.


Yeah, I mean, it it ties into I think it should be brought up and I have some you know, it's it matters how you do it because like people who are voting on Trump's ties to Russia and what happened, the 2016 election and elsewhere, we have those voters.


They decided they were against him for a long time ago when crooked media and change research did polls of swing states earlier this year and last year, the Russia attack always tested relatively weak because the people, like I said, the people who care about it have already moved. But there's a way to do this specific version that is different from Trump is Putin's buddy. Trump is Putin's lapdog.


A lot of sort of the language you hear on Twitter and more about Trump being in combat and too afraid to do his job, because I think one of the things that's important to remember about messaging is that you do not want to reinforce the notion that Trump is a strongman because the his persona is a strong man is what helped pull some voters into his category in 2016.


It doesn't mean we should not talk about his authoritarian impulses. We should not talk about the secret militias that Trump is dispatching to Portland or other cities. But we need to do it in the context of the larger weakness in which he is operating, the larger incompetence of it. Right. It's not that he is a strongman, is that he is incompetent and therefore is resorting to these extralegal tactics. I think that's the way to talk about this a lot, is not just to do Russia, Russia, Russia, but to put it in the context of him being an incompetent and weak president.


He's too afraid to bring this up to Putin to undermine that notion. Yeah, I agree with that.


We got all prepared for this part. I did some work last night getting ready for it. And then, of course, Trump had quite a morning on Twitter. We did lots of things, including promoting a pizza place called Patio Pizza, because he saw the owner on, I think, CNBC this morning.


And much like the Hydroxy when video, Trump promoted pizza that he has never eaten because the person said something nice about him, which I think about that for a second.


But he did have do something that was particularly concerning to a lot of people.


Trump tweeted, and I quote, with universal mail in voting, not absentee voting, which is good. Twenty twenty will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history.


It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. DeLay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote.


Questionmark, questionmark, questionmark. All right, first we do a little fact checking here, mail in voting and absentee voting are the same thing and voter fraud is extremely rare.


But people we've got a lot of questions on Twitter and elsewhere about Trump's ability to delay the election. To be clear, he absolutely cannot do this. The date of the election is set by Congress. And according to historians, there has never been a successful attempt to move Election Day. If you want to do a deep dive into all the legal reasons that Trump can't do this and how the dates of election get set, Vox's a great explainer on it, as they often do.


Melissa, are you concerned Trump's going to delay the election?


No, no, no. I'm concerned he's going to keep talking about it. But he no, he can't move the election fuckin. He's like, there's many, many things here he is going to do to try to steal this election. We've talked about them. We will continue to talk about them throughout this because people need to stay vigilant. But this is this is an attempt to distract from the one the embarrassment over him retweeting that video.


I think the the sad news this morning that Godfather's Pizza CEO and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain died of coronavirus, potentially having contracted it at Trump's mask free rally in Oklahoma last month.


So, like, I think that we need to treat this with the absurdity as evidence that Trump is stupid, not as evidence that he is going to steal the election this way. Right. He has other ways to steal the election that we're going to fight really hard against.


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All right, you ready do this mailbag, let's hit the mailbag. OK, the first question, Melissa, is for you is from Cancela via community. Dear Lisa, thank you for your fantastic three part series, looking at the vice presidential search. I loved your anecdotes. And as someone who grew up in Rhinebeck, I also loved hearing your story. You mentioned during the part that you were disappointed that Vice President Biden announced he would pick a woman without actually selecting one.


I'm wondering if you have seen some benefit to this process. I have watched a good number of excellent potential candidates getting national attention in a way they never would have without this public attention. I also noted from your POV that several candidates, including Senator Kerry, who were in consideration for the vice presidential nomination, went on to run for president themselves. I wonder if we might consider this is a great opportunity for publicizing a number of qualified women?


Definitely. Absolutely. I think that it is great that people across the country know about what an amazing leader Karen Bass is. They know about Kamala Harris. You know, they of course, they probably knew more about Kamala and Elizabeth Warren, but people like Governor Whitman and yeah, all the ladies, I think it's great. And I hope that they all use this platform to do good things in their districts and states.


Yeah, I think that's an interesting point about the impact of making that declaration at the beginning of the process, which is let's say he had not done that. Right. Like like as you and I talked about on that's the ticket.


You know, our belief is that Joe Biden sincerely decided the right thing to do for a whole host of reasons was that he was going to pick a woman. Right. And then he made the decision to announce that fact in advance.


But had he not made that declaration at the beginning, the short list discussion right now would include a whole bunch of men. Right. Right. You know, you could like would Bernie Sanders be on the ticket? Would Corey Booker be on the ticket?


What about, you know, people forget, you know, all kinds of different people and said it's been, yeah, we probably won't be having a conversation about Karen Bass or Val Demings or Keisha Lance Bottoms if it was not a list that. Was all women, so I think that that has been one of the the upsides of that situation. All right, Sarah Puto plans via community, OK, but like for real, when is Biden going to announce his VP pick?


I know we'll never find out who until the day of, but I'm dying to know a ballpark estimate.


He said next week, right? Yeah, he said the first week of August is the when this is likely to happen. Now, here's my question to Password's. Is it that he will make the decision the first week or he will announce the decision the first week? I don't know. I don't know. Yeah, we don't know and we don't know. I think I think that question was left vague.


He has talked about the beginning of August being the timeline in multiple context over the last few months. He's talked about being at the point to make a decision at that time. He talked about having a decision at that time.


There's been some discussion of whether that was when all of the vetting stuff would be done and he would be in a position to interview the last few people. We you know, we just don't know.


But if you look at the calendar, convention starts August 17th and SFP must speak there and have her name put into nomination there. So we're running out of time.


So his end historically, this pick is normally happened seven to 10 days before the convention or in many cases.


So I think we are Sarah, I think we're getting close to this also with the amount of leaks happening, like the sooner the better.


My friends. Yeah, I mean, it's you never know, as we talked about on that's the ticket, the three part Project America miniseries about the VP selection featuring the two of us that you never know what's a real and what's a fake.


Right. Like there are stories that, you know, there's this terribly terrible offensive story that was on CNBC last night about some Biden allies who were pushing against Kamala Harris.


You know, very obviously sexist description of her as being, quote unquote, too ambitious for the job of vice president, as if that ambition was a negative. You know, it's one that a lot of people very rarely get upset about. In fact, the you know, Joe Biden's campaign manager actually put out a tweet to try to knock down the idea that that's something that criticism that Biden was considering. But that's a bunch of random donors saying. Right, right.


There's a story about Karen Bass and Kamala Harris that was being pushed, I think, by a lot of anti Harris people in California. That was, you know, that's all people who are not in the room making a decision. So it's like, what's an actual leak and what is people who don't know anything? Just talking is one of the great sort of parlor games of the VP process. Right.


Which if you want to learn more about Check-Out, that's the ticket. Exactly. In the positive America feed.


Exactly. Anywhere you get your podcasts or something. All right. More of questions.


This is when we got a lot from a lot different people. But here it is from Alex, also via community.


Last night, Politico reported that Comilla was the VP and included a quote from the Biden campaign.


Does this mean that Obama is the VP? How is there a quote from Biden about Camilla being the VP? If not, leaks?


Questionmark. Well, as we talked about on that's the ticket the night before John Kerry announced that John Edwards was his vice presidential pick, the New York Post ran. Dick Gephardt was the pick on the cover of the newspaper. So we have no idea how or why these things happen. A lot of times we know that there may be four or five finalists that the campaign is working on and they have sort of like packages ready to go depending on who it's going to be.


So, you know, I think that's how it happens. But I don't feel like we should really read anything into it, do you?


Yeah, like this. Other forums in which this question came in was, you know, did the Biden campaign give this to Politico on an embargo and political mess it up and therefore quickly deleted the tweet?


No. As you point out, all of these media outlets are want to be first and one the first ones out of the gate.


When the news comes, they have preprepared, all of their social media assets for it. They they have written Schell's of stories with biographical information about all of these people so that they can move very quickly. And every once in a while, someone hits the wrong button and it goes like this happens. It happens with election results a lot where you will, like the AP will accidentally send across the wire something and says Donald Trump was reelected or Barack Obama was re-elected and all that.


It's just it's a glitch. So don't worry. I wouldn't read too much into that.


No, but I would say if that's actually the quote they have in the hopper to use in case it's her, I might just refresh the quote a little bit. Could use a little finessing.


Yeah, I don't think it's the Biden. I think I think I hope it's a dummy quote. I don't know, went to Europe normally either you just put in like latte.


I'm right. Yeah. So I don't I don't know that that part was weird. So I speak to that. Maybe, maybe, maybe the conspiracy theorists are right.


And Biden has picked Kamala Harris and he told Politico and no one else and someone with an itchy Twitter finger at Politico put it up. I can't rule anything out these days.


All right. Someone name Rex Cat via Twitter. You never talk about incumbents switching VPs.


Do you think there's any chance of that happening with pense? Never say never. I have been of the mind for a long time that I thought a Trump would dispense.


Mm hmm. And B, it would be the right thing for Trump to do. In fact, I may even have written something to that effect that is just sitting in draft form on my computer somewhere.


What are you waiting for? Well, listen, I got a lot on my plate these days, and I really write a lot of things that get to be about 45 percent done. And then they just sit on my computer.


I'm that way with friendship bracelets. I think now we are getting so close to Republican convention that it seems less likely he will dispense, but. Pence adds nothing to Trump, not because, no, he has no value, he is a waste of space.


In twenty sixteen, he served as a validator for some evangelical conservative voters because Pence was seen as one of them. And it was sort of buttressing this idea that Trump would get into office and then act like a moderate Manhattan billionaire and not like an even stupider version of Paul Ryan, which is what he ended up governing us.


But if you were Trump and you think about things in terms of TV because you were once briefly on a very bad show with mediocre ratings and, you know, it's not unusual when shows get bad ratings to try to bring a new character into the into the mix. Like, I'm sure you remember this also because we are of the same generation when Leonardo DiCaprio briefly joined the cast of Growing Pains, that.


Right, he's the homeless kid that course, Mike Seaver found. Yes, or Mr. Seaver, one of the survivors found, and he came to live with them, like you could see trumps in this world, that he needs a new narrative, a new excitement to add something new to the mix.


And could you know, like there would be some political logic of taking Nikki Haley or Tim Scott or something that would create some permission for some set of voters who are skeptical of Trump as a misogynist or skeptic, as the racists like. I don't know what a difference it would make, but right now, Mike Pence is out of nothing. The other advantage of ditching Pence would be that you could blame.


Pence is in charge of the coronavirus task force and why he hasn't thrown him under the bus earlier like that. Like that's been a very strange dynamic that I guess Trump views any, just like he views any person being accused of racism as an attack on him or any man anywhere in America being accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault. As a reflection on him, he views any criticism of the coronavirus response as a criticism of him when he could have easily just.


Thrown my pants under the bus and well, but I mean, think about it, if anyone had asked Mike Pence to throw out a first pitch. Well, Mike Pence would be fired. Yeah, that's going to blow it up.


Luckily, he's the least dynamic person on the planet, so no one even fuckin talks about him. But I mean, you have to assume that since March, since Biden said he'd be picking a woman, that Mike Pence has kept a close eye on, Nikki Haley in her tweets.


Oh, oh, Nikki Haley is insufferable for this job. Yes, she is. She very much wants it. That is why she is continually tweeting absolutely absurd things, because that is the fastest way to to Trump's heart.


Do you mean like what a hero. He wore a mask. Yeah. Fuck you. Yes.


Congratulations on doing the bare fucking minimum. Three months too late. All right. Sheilah Malhotra, I hope I said that correctly for the community. Vote by mail. Is it better to vote by mail or in person?


Is there any risk of my mail ballot not being counted, even if I send it in on time?


Alice, what do you think? Well, I wonder the same question, and I think that in the era of covid, I think I'm going to try and vote by mail, but we saw the Tony Decouples special on CBS that it takes longer than we would assume sometimes for the mail to get to where it's supposed to go. So I would say they're equal as long as you like it, like vote a couple of days early, mail your ballot in a couple days early.


Yeah, I would mail your ballot in if you decide to vote by mail, I would mail it in on the first day. You can do it, right? Yes. In the Florida primary, eighteen thousand five hundred Floridians ballots were not counted because they are many of them arrive by mail after the deadline.


The Postal Service is swamped anyway. There's huge, obviously, because people are going there doing more, ordering. Things aren't going. People are going to stores, doing things in person. The post office being underfunded. It's being Posadas is being managed by a Trump lackey who is totally unqualified for the job and doing very dangerous and stupid and potentially illegal things.


And so if you feel like the safest way for you to vote is vote by mail, you should vote by mail.


If you live in a state that offers easily accessible early voting, they can be safe. We do need people to vote early because we want to get as many people to vote early to reduce the pressure on the on the Postal Service and to reduce the amount of people who have to vote on Election Day. Like, basically the goal is to get at bank as many votes as possible, not for political reasons, although that is obviously helpful, but to reduce the dangers for people on Election Day because we know we are going to have fewer poll workers than we need.


And Wikimedia is working to help encourage people to become poll workers. And we'll talk more about that as time goes on.


But like, I don't want to tell people to do one or the other, but I would just say if you choose to vote by mail, get it in as soon as possible. Do not trust the Postal Service to get it there on time because mail ballots get tossed out way more than you would think because of things getting there too late from the mail and because of, in many cases, very arduous and unfair and discriminatory signature match laws. You know, in Nevada, in this primary, six thousand seven hundred ballots were rejected because the officials couldn't verify voter signatures.


And that's been very problematic to people.


I would encourage you to pay attention to and follow to learn more about all these issues is, of course, Stacey Abrams, our friend over there at Fair Fight, who is obviously experienced firsthand the worst elements of Republican voter suppression. And Marc Elias, the Democratic election attorney who does a lot of writing at something called Democracy Dockett.


I would follow him on Twitter because he has been raising a lot of the warning flags about what could happen and with some real important, actionable information about what you can do about it.


Alyssa, this question comes from Ken Thompson via Facebook. Do you think Biden should be doing more interviews right now to counter the sheer amount of time Trump is on the air or is having the focus totally on the shit show that is the Trump administration beneficial to the Biden campaign?


I don't know what do you think? I think that he does not need to match Trump interview for interview or news story by a news story like that's not what he has to do. I think he has been getting out there and doing things he needs to continue to do that. Like, I think it's important to not just try to focus only on the national news, but doing local stuff, doing stuff that speaks specifically to audiences of Target voters. You know, that could be local TV.


That could be things that have large audiences of young podcast listeners to pick one thing out of a hat or, you know, black voters, Latino voters like there's a way to do smart, targeted communications that does not depend on trying to win the national news cycle with Trump, because playing that game and I think Joe Biden, the Biden campaign's great credit, they have not played that game.


They have been, you know, pretty disciplined about how they've used their candidate, picking big moments and not trying to match Trump for blow. But as time goes on, that's going to continue to become more of an imperative, not just for like persuading people, but informing them about voter registration deadlines for what we talked about earlier, how to vote by mail, all of those things. There's a communications element to organizing and that's going to require some targeted communications.


It's very smart. All right. You want to take some fun questions? Yeah. Let's take fun questions. OK, Sophie, via Twitter, I always love hearing about what you what you are reading and writing. So what are some of the good books, novels, especially you've been reading? Let's also do TV shows also. What have you been watching and reading you'd recommend to people?


So I'm going to be really honest. I have not been reading that much lately because it makes me fall asleep. Sorry, but I don't want to lie to the pod, save America fans. So watching.


OK, I watched documentary that was really enjoyable called Every Little Step About A Chorus Line and it's on Amazon Prime.


And I loved it because it's like, you know, you're feeling like down in the dumps and everything seems like a dumpster fire. And like sometimes you just keep persevering and it pays off. So I watch that. I kind of it and I watch Law and Order all the time, which everybody knows.


That's for you mostly. Were you in criminal intent? So I have to be. Can you actually do this? Can you rank the law and order for me?


Yeah, so interesting. It kind of goes like there's Elvis and Fat Elvis, you know? So I would say I like early law and order number one. I like later S.V. you number two. I'm really excited to see the Elliot Stabler spinoff. One of my favorite things to do is scream at the television when Dick and I are watching, when I spy someone who was a baby baby actor back then and now they're famous, I'll be like, Oh my God, that's Hulk from Scandal and then criminal intent.


I don't know why those just creep me out more. You hate Vincent. Not for you. I don't hate Vincent for you. I thought he was very funny in the break up my feet.


One of my favorite Jennifer Aniston movies is that Vince Vaughn. That's pretty dumb. Yeah, yeah. That takes place in Chicago. I wrote about it in a whole chapter of my book.


I remember, but no, I think that's I just I think that my theme for the past couple of months has been that I need shows that show justice because we're not getting any in America. So I really leave that to Mariska Hargitay.


Should Mariska Hargitay be on the VP short list? The VP was on studio with Mariska Hargitay. Oh, I forgot about that.


Yes, it's and also, I just really love that they forecast everything. Like if anyone wanted to know how coronavirus spreads, you should watch like season 17 of SVO.


You OK?


What are you watching? What are you what are you watching in our house? And here's what we're watching in our house, this is my I don't think I think the show is good enough that you can't call it a guilty pleasure. But we have and I love Yellowstone. That's a good business. Yeah, I know what Yellowstone is, all right. I mean, Kevin Costner, a story about a Montana ranch.


It is. It's great. We very excited in the middle of season three right now.


We also were watching I May Destroy You on HBO, which is amazing.


And obviously, we are midway through below deck Medda. And I'm very concerned about what's going to about how you film future seasons of below deck in a coronavirus era.


So because, Bodek, if you like, it never ends. It's like Platek happens and blood exhaling out than blood. Akhmad And the blood that comes back.


Oh, do you mean like like TLC? My 90 day fiancee, the other way, 90 day fiance, happily ever after, 90 day fiancee beyond the 90 days and then pillow talk, which is where old couples talk at the camera while other people like while the season's unfolding, I laugh my ass off. I can't believe how uptight I got that they kicked off Tim and Veronica. I love them. And then in terms of what I'm reading, I have recently people ask the questions I answer and what do want me to do?


I just read a book called The Burning, which is a book about sort of about politics in India, which makes it sound more serious than it is.


It's like a very interesting and it's that fun is not the right word, but it is like it's a very it's just a very well-written book from a first time novelist.


Then I read a book called Weather by Jenny OFL, which is very it's very short, sort of amazingly written book about people dealing with the existential threat of climate change, which also is less dark than it seems. I promise you, it's just really, really well done.


And now I'm reading this. Now you're going to make fun of me by it. But I'm doing this in primarily to keep up with Tommy and Ben and the world.


Those is Anne Applebaum book The Twilight of Democracy, which is about sort of the lure of authoritarianism. And as I was, I felt like this is a book I have to read, like I should do it. It's the right thing to do, like I should be serious and learn things. But it's actually it's a much more sort of engaging read than I imagine it's it's actually quite good. Yeah.


You know, I really I started The Fountainhead a while ago. Are you just kidding, the one you should have just said you should we should always just say that we're reading Infinite Jest, right? Isn't that what you're supposed to say? Well, no.


What I was going to say is as soon as it arrives, I will read, she proclaims by our friend Jen Palmieri. But mail up here is very, very slow. They said it'll be here in seven to ten days.


Well, that's another warning about your mail ballot people. Yeah, exactly. I'm not going I'm not going to talk to you with Churchie with this question because I know why, but I don't want Christopher Brown via Twitter says, what does Ben Simmons, his new three point shot mean for the seventy Sixers bubble championship chances?


And then here's the note from Jordan Waller, our producer extraordinaire. Dan, you got so many basketball questions. So and I mentioned the so many parts questions, just because it feels like a huge missed opportunity, that I have somehow not figured out how to have some sort of basketball. Podcast, where is it where it's it's a failure, it's a failure of laziness, it's not OK, it's not a good self starter. Do I have to do I have to write a memo?


Probably I will say this to Christopher Brown, I'm reserving judgment on Ben Simms's three point shot until he shoots for minimum four three pointers a game when the season starts, I think Sixers first game of Saturday. So. All right.


This is from Ross Bennett via Community. With many late nights working in the White House, what was the food situation like? Is the cafeteria always open for delivery drivers coming and going? In the White House, in the White House, yes. You know that you and I often had our meals together. But never late at night, because it's a food desert, it's a food desert, there's no food near the White House really that stays open. And the cafeteria, which is called the Navy mess, closes at 8:00 p.m..


Is that right? Do I remember that right? I think that's right. 8PM and if we were there that late, chances are we were not eating the Phifer special, which was chicken, brown, rice and broccoli. If we were there late. That's a true story. I was laughing because it's a true story. It was called the Phifer special. And I know because the Navy must reported to me.


Well, that's in part because I organized a campaign among my staff to suggest brown rice on the suggestion cards, which is how we got brown rice at the mess, which is why I got the special named after me, which when you combine this with the Anne Applebaum thing, makes me seem like an even bigger loser than I actually am. Right.


Because the truth is, though, if we were there eating dinner, what were we having? Chicken fingers, chicken fingers and sometimes a grilled cheese. Yeah, sometimes I would never I would always do the chicken fingers every single time I had the opportunity at the White House and I was the dick that would order a Caesar salad with chicken, but would ask for the chicken to be hot because that's how I like it.


And I walk down to the Navy mess once and they were like, is that hot chicken ready for the Caesar salad? And I was like, I'm right here.


It's very possible things have changed in D.C. since we left. But when we were there, as you point out, there's no food around the White House at night because it's all like public service land.


Right. And it's a bit like like the restaurants closed.


The restaurants aren't open for dinner because most Russians are over there because they closed.


When people go home, because people don't live around the White House and getting in and out of the White House is a pain in the ass and takes time. And so like to go outside, get your food and bring it back was annoying. So just like be hungry and then go home and eat what's in your fridge was the often choice when we worked late.


So that's a long answer to that question, but I bet it was enjoyable.


OK, this one comes from your friend Monica Lewinsky via Monica Monica Ellis US.




Ellis, please describe in detail the birthday cake you're going to make me were it not for comfort. It also if you two were to do a karaoke duet, what would it be?


OK, so first, Monica knows her cake was going to be a yellow cake with custard filling and strawberries. It was going to be buttercream on the outside with hot, pink and yellow roses, which I have taught myself how to make with green leaves and pink sprinkles. That was going to be her birthday cake because we both love Buttercream Roses and I've known this for a while. So I taught myself how to make them so that I could celebrate her birthday properly, which was like last week.


But when did you get the cake?


Do we have to wait for Trump to start coronavirus or to get the say she gets the cake after her forty seventh year around the sun. OK, let me get to the karaoke part of this. Yes, yes, yes, what do you say? What's your what would you do at what would you do?


Can I admit something here? You've never done karaoke. One time. I got almost dragged into it. But I've spent my entire life, my entire adult life avoiding doing karaoke.


And can I tell you why? Tell me. Well, because when I was in high school.


Oh, boy, you had to take a some sort of music class. And I didn't like not I I am to music what Donald Trump is to being president.


It just doesn't work like like if you said to me, Dan, in order to get reelected, you have to play the flute. I would just not get reelected, like that's how it would be.


And so the so I took chorus because that seemed better than some sort of band related activity. And midway through the semester, my the choral teacher asked me if I'd be willing to.


Lip-Sync Oh, you're OK. I know. How horrible is that seventh grade. Yes. No, it is eighth grade.


I was in high school. I was I was like sixteen and I was like as long as long as I as long as I get my pass grade, I will lip sync the F out of the song. That's what I'll do. And so I did. And, but that was traumatic and that's why I don't do karaoke. It's that, that is my answer.


This is what makes us amazing, because I was in eighth grade, Mr Swan, our chorus teacher, he had been an attack of the killer tomatoes.


Can't you just watched your chorus teacher? I did because we were singing. Still haven't found what I'm looking for by you two. And he straight up was like, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but maybe you should Lip-Sync.


But see you man. I am today. I am to singing as Donald Trump is to self-awareness. I was like, no, I'm great.


I'm going to do it. Fuck him, I'm great. So anyway, I sing all the time and I've done karaoke several times. So are you saying that you have no karaoke song?


I don't, I don't I, I have assiduously avoided it my whole life.


OK, well, if you want here's the thing. If you like.


This is how seriously I take it is like especially when I was like younger and like you would go out a lot more and more people at karaoke birthday parties.


Like if you drink a little bit less, like a little slower than everyone else, you can position yourself that you never end up seeing karaoke because by the time it gets around it, people think you should do it. They've gotten too drunk to remember and you want to do it. And then there will be a bunch of people who are friends of ours who listen to this, who are going to be like, you know, I did go to a lot of karaoke birthday parties or karaoke bars with Dan, and I have never seen him say that somehow I've avoided it all these years.


OK, so if it was like my fiftieth birthday and my only birthday present that I wanted in the whole world was that you sing karaoke with me, we would sing Losing My Religion as a shout out to Dylan and Brenda and I know do want to.


I'm just going to pretend like you did not say that and that I have no obligation and an unsaid number of years until said birthday party was going to come by the time we turned 50.


I feel confident we may be able to fly again.


I'll come to you, OK? All right. Put that in the books. All right.


I think that's a good, good place for us to end because we have now devolved into even more absurdity than usual when we do this podcast together.


Melissa, thank you for joining us on short notice to fill in for Jon Favreau and our best to Jon and Emily and Charlie and Leo, of course, who's adjusting to a new occupant at his home.


We're so happy for them and they're going to be great parents. Thank you, everyone. And we will see you next week by everyone.


Positive America is a crooked media production, the executive producer is Michael Martinez, our assistant producers, Jordan Waller. It's mixed and edited by Andrew Chadwick. Kyle Segoline is our sound engineer, thanks to tennis commentator Katie Lang, Roman Papadimitriou, Caroline Reston and Elisa Gutierrez for production support and to our digital team, Elijah Konar Melkonian, Elfriede and Milo Kim, who film and upload these episodes as videos every week.