TEST OF A TIME

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1. True or false? After the mid-July failure of IndyMac Bank, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson warned that the economy "could be in complete meltdown in two months."

a. True. He said that estimate "might even be optimistic."

b. False. He reassured the public, saying, "It's a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation."

2. Who's who?

___ Barry Blitt

___ Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet

___ Alex Kozinski

___ John Gibson

___ Tyrone Freeman

___ Tom Putnam

___ Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher

___ Tyson Gay

a) The federal judge presiding over a Los Angeles obscenity trial who declared a mistrial after acknowledging that he had a publicly accessible website that featured sexually explicit material.

b) The Service Employees International Union labor leader whose local spent several hundred thousand dollars on services provided by firms owned by his wife and mother-in-law.

c) The director of the Paris Hilton movie "The Hottie and the Nottie" that grossed $27,696 in its opening weekend, which -- when ticket prices, number of theaters and number of screenings were factored in -- averaged out to an audience of about four people per show.

d) The Fox News host who made fun of Heath Ledger's death by playing an audio clip from "Brokeback Mountain" in which Jake Gyllenhaal's character said, "I wish I knew how to quit you," then said, "Well, he found out how to quit you!"

e) The illustrator of the New Yorker cover depicting the Obamas as fist-bumping terrorists in the White House -- an image apparently too politically incorrect to be appreciated as satire.

f) The financial executive who became the first Bernard Madoff-inspired suicide.

g) The Olympic sprinter whose name in an Associated Press story triggered an auto-replace feature on the far-right American Family Assn.'s website, resulting in his being renamed and repeatedly referred to as "Tyson Homosexual."

h) Joe the Plumber.

3. Hillary Clinton's campaign cried "Plagiarism!" after Barack Obama used a couple of lines in a speech that were very similar to lines delivered in 2006 by successful Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate (and Obama supporter) Deval Patrick. Complete her mocking of his slogan: "It's not change you can believe in, it's change you can ________________________"

a) Xerox.

b) make carbon copies of.

c) take to the scrivener's shoppe and have him re-scriven for you.

d) copy onto the walls of your cave from memory after having seen it on the walls of your friend's cave.

4. How did each of these men distinguish himself during the 2008 presidential campaign?

___ Mitt Romney

___ Mike Huckabee

___ Newt Gingrich

___ Fred Thompson

___ Rudy Giuliani

a) He pointed out a former New York City police officer at a Florida campaign rally and marveled that the man looked exactly as he had "on Sept. 11."

b) Rival campaign chairman Ed Rollins described him as "a guy ... whose teeth I want to knock out."

c) He equated gay marriage with marriage between a man and an animal.

d) He called John McCain's I'm-suspending-my-campaign-and-I-can't-debate-until-the-economic-crisis-is-solved gambit "the greatest single act of responsibility ever taken by a presidential candidate."

e) He was so lazy that nearly all press coverage of his campaign mentioned his aversion to exertion.

5. What did John Edwards do during the "Nightline" interview about his extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter?

a) He asked Bob Woodruff twice, "Can I explain what happened?" which of course was the reason for the interview.

b) He pointed out that when he cheated on his wife, Elizabeth, her cancer was in remission.

c) He declared that "none of" the members of his family was responsible for his cheating, lest anyone think that maybe somehow his young children had caused it.

d) All of the above, plus he smarmily reminded people that John McCain had cheated on his first wife.

6. How did John McCain's spokesman, Tucker Bounds, respond to CNN anchor Campbell Brown's efforts to get him to explain why Sarah Palin's nomination didn't make a mockery of McCain's insistence that the main qualification for being his running mate was readiness to take over on Day One?

a) He grinned sheepishly and said, "OK, you got me. She's not ready. But you gotta admit, she's hotter than Lieberman."

b) He pointed out that "she's been the commander of the National Guard, of the Alaska National Guard that's been deployed overseas. That's foreign policy experience."

c) He scolded Brown, saying, "I think the 5 1/2 years John McCain spent as a POW is more than enough foreign policy experience for the both of them."

7. How was one of the candidates' names misspelled in a TV ad?

a) Barack O'bama

b) Johm McCain

c) Hillary Clintone

d) Sarah Plain

8. True or false? An Associated Press editor sent out a memo declaring that the research documenting 935 false statements made by the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war "should be hammered away at until people start talking about trying him at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity."

a) True. Coincidentally, that editor died the next afternoon when his car skidded off a mountain road.

b) False. No such memo about Bush's lies was sent. But a memo did go out from Los Angeles assistant bureau chief Frank Baker, breathlessly declaring, "Now, and for the foreseeable future, virtually everything involving Britney is a big deal."

9. What made Hillary Clinton choke up at a campaign event?

a) Obama made a snarky comment about her likability.

b) Someone asked her how she managed to "keep upbeat and so wonderful" during the stressful campaign.

c) Someone suggested that maybe Bill, "deep down," didn't want her to win.

d) She remembered how scary it was dodging the Bosnian sniper fire.

10. Who is Robert M. Sanchez?

a) The Hasbro executive who filed a copyright infringement lawsuit causing the removal of Scrabulous from Facebook.

b) The Metrolink engineer who was text messaging while on duty and apparently didn't notice the warning signal that would have prevented him from slamming into an oncoming freight train in Chatsworth, causing an accident that killed 25 people.

c) The captain of the oil tanker that collided with a barge, creating a 12-mile oil slick and sending diesel fumes wafting over the French Quarter, the day before John McCain had planned to appear in New Orleans arguing for offshore drilling.

d) The Alaskan man slaughtering turkeys in the background during an impromptu Sarah Palin news conference.

11. How did George W. Bush refer to those who are concerned with maintaining global stability?

a) "The stability-ites."

b) "The stabilizationators."

c) "The stabilionaires."

12. Who's who?

___ Marjorie Christoffersen

___ Alan Stock

___ Scott Eckern

a) The Sacramento musical theater artistic director who resigned because of protests about his $1,000 contribution to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.

b) The CEO of the Cinemark theater chain who didn't resign when his $9,999 contribution to Yes on 8 fueled talk of a boycott of the Sundance Film Festival, which screens films in a Cinemark theater.

c) The manager of El Coyote whose $100 contribution to Yes on 8 led to picketing at the restaurant.

13. During a TV interview, who told John McCain to his face that two of his campaign ads "are untrue, they're lies"?

a) David Letterman

b) Charlie Gibson

c) Tim Russert

d) Joy Behar

14. What did "Hardball" host Chris Matthews say made him feel "this thrill going up my leg"?

a) Michael Phelps winning his record-setting eighth gold medal in Beijing.

b) Barack Obama's Potomac primary victory speech.

c) The video in which Tom Cruise gushes about how much he loves Scientology.

d) Tina Fey's dead-on "Saturday Night Live" impression of Sarah Palin.

15. Who is Sherry Johnston?

a) The Las Vegas judge who sentenced O.J. Simpson to at least nine years in jail.

b) The hooker who brought down Eliot Spitzer.

c) The McCain volunteer who claimed that an Obama supporter carved a "B" (for Barack) into her cheek, then admitted that she'd done it herself.

d) The Fox News worker who referred to Michelle Obama in a caption as "Obama's baby mama."

e) The U.S. Treasury spokesperson who said the $700-billion bailout figure was "not based on any particular data point. We just wanted to choose a really large number."

f) The recently busted-on-drug-charges mother of the father of Sarah Palin's daughter's new baby.

16. Which one of these things did not happen?

a) ABC News political analyst Cokie Roberts criticized Barack Obama for vacationing in his home state of Hawaii, saying "it has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place."

b) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was lionized as a hero after solving the budget crisis without cutting any vital programs.

c) Clay Aiken came out as gay.

d) Told that two-thirds of the public thinks the Iraq war wasn't worth fighting, Vice President Dick Cheney replied, "So?"

e) After the famous tossed footwear incident, George W. Bush told reporters, "So what if the guy threw a shoe at me?"

17) Who said what?

___ "If anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it."

___ "Not God bless America. God damn America!"

___ "The fundamentals of our economy are strong."

___ "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."

___ "Being 99% honest is no longer enough."

___ "It's not surprising, then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them. . . . "

___ "The Bush administration took a lot of pride that homeownership had reached historic highs. But what we forgot in the process was that it has to be done in the context of people being able to afford their house. "

a) Wesley Clark

b) Barack Obama

c) Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

d) Former Treasury Secretary John Snow

e) John McCain

f) John Edwards

g) Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.)

18. Which of these things did not happen?

a) Sarah Palin told Katie Couric she read "any" and "all" newspapers, yet couldn't name one.

b) Sarah Palin pronounced herself delighted to be in the "pro-America areas" of America.

c) Sarah Palin said people who criticized John McCain's defense of our "strong" economy were unfairly attacking his "verbage."

d) Barack Obama was overheard on his cellphone referring to Sarah Palin as a "proud ignoramus" who "doesn't talk, she brays."

e) Sarah Palin made it clear that she had no idea what the vice president actually does.

Answers

1. False; 2. e,f,a,d,b,c,h,g; 3. a; 4. b,c,d,e,a; 5. d; 6. b; 7.b; 8. False; 9. b; 10. b; 11. a; 12.c,b,a; 13. d; 14.b; 15. f; 16. b; 17. g,c,e,a,f,b,d; 18.d

Paul Slansky writes the Weekly News Index at Time.com.

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