Opening Panel Round | KUER 90.1

Opening Panel Round

May 25, 2012
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PETER SAGAL, HOST:

We want to remind everyone they can join us here most weeks at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago. For tickets and more information, you can go to wbez.org, or you can find a link at our website, waitwait.npr.org.

Right now, panel, time for you to answer some questions about this week's news. Paula, a new report analyzing the language of Congress members - members of Congress that is - finds they speak more and more like what?

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Middle schoolers.

SAGAL: Yes, exactly right, teenagers

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: The Sunlight Foundation, which sounds like more fun than it is, has found that members of Congress are using shorter sentences and shorter words than they used to, lowering the grade level of their speech patterns. Asked if it's true that Congress has been dumbing down the way it speaks, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said "Duh."

(LAUGHTER)

LUKE BURBANK: I think it was L-O-L.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: And we all know it.

SAGAL: Tots.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Tots, said Steny Hoyer.

P.J. O'ROURKE: So, did all the legislation have a little question mark at the end?

SAGAL: Yeah.

O'ROURKE: So it's the agriculture bill?

SAGAL: In any event, people expect the trend will continue. Congress will get dumber and dumber in their verbal discourse. House Speaker John Boehner said "that's it; I'm changing my name before it's too late."

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Of course, by making that joke I've proved it already is.

O'ROURKE: Too late.

POUNDSTONE: The part that's hard to figure out about this story is why.

BURBANK: Well, part of it was the new rule that all statements have to be 140 characters or less.

SAGAL: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

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