Commentary: Are you smarter than an old fart? | St. Louis Public Radio

Commentary: Are you smarter than an old fart?

Apr 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This being an election year, pundits are sure to admonish voters to study the issues. Campaign hype notwithstanding, citizens will be encouraged to soberly evaluate a given candidate's position on the pressing concerns of the day before making their choice. 

Unfortunately, facts are stubborn things and many of our fellow American Idol-izers are simply ignorant of those necessary to perform such an analysis. Worse yet, the things you think you know can be more dangerous than the ones you know you don't. Remember, at one time everybody knew that Saddam Hussein had WMDs.

Therefore, as a public service, I offer the following quiz to determine whether you're prepared to be an issues voter. 

1.) Due to global warming, the climate in Greenland is now warmer than at any time in human history. A.) True B.) False 

2.) If the arctic ice cap were to melt completely, scientists estimate that global sea levels would rise by how much? A.) 16 feet B.) 10 feet C.) 4 feet D.) 0 feet

3.) The attacks of 9/11 were the result of a catastrophic failure of airport screening procedures. A.) True B.) False

4.) By invading Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, George W. Bush started more wars than any other first-term president. A.) True B.) False

5.) The war in Iraq costs American taxpayers about $3 billion A.) per year B.) per month C.) per week D.) per day

6.) Dick Cheney is the only sitting vice president to accidentally shoot a fellow citizen. A.) True B.) False

7.) The Federal Reserve sets mortgage interest rates. A.) True B.) False

8.) Which of the following is NOT an Arab nation? A.) Syria B.) Iran C.) Egypt D.) All are Arab nations

9.) Zionists took territory from the nation of Palestine to found modern Israel. A.) True B.) False

10.) The national debt is presently estimated at $9.5 trillion. If we stopped borrowing immediately, and if our creditors agreed to charge no further interest on the outstanding balance, how long would it take us to pay it off at a rate of $100 per second ($360,000 per hour), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? 


1) B. False. The Vikings colonized Greenland for several hundred years during the Middle Ages. They were driven out during the 15th Century at the onset of Europe's "Little Ice Age." The place has been frozen ever since.

2) D. 0 feet. The polar ice cap in the arctic floats in the Arctic Ocean. Just as an ice cube melting in a glass of lemonade has no effect on the fluid level of the glass, the loss of the arctic cap would have no impact on sea levels.

3) B. False. The procedures functioned exactly as they were designed to. At the time, box-cutters were allowed on aircraft, which is why the terrorists armed themselves with them in the first place.

4) B. False. That distinction goes to his father who invaded Panama in 1989, Iraqi- occupied Kuwait in 1991 and Somalia in 1992. 

5) C. Per week. That's more than $12,000 million each month.

6) A. True. The first VP shooting occurred in 1804 when Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton during a duel. However, Burr, who by all accounts was sober at the time, actually intended to shoot Hamilton.

7) B. False. The Fed sets short-term rates for borrowing among banks. Mortgage rates are tied to the bond market.

8) B. Iran. Iranians are Persian.

9) B. False. Palestine was never an independent nation. It is a region, like New England, the Midwest, etc.

10.) About 2,992.5 years.

Scoring Key
9 - 10 correct: Wise Guy
7 - 8 correct: Smart Ass 
4 - 6 correct: Average Dolt
2 - 3 correct: FOX viewer
0 - 1 correct: Bush Administration Appointee

If you didn't score well, take heart. I've included an extra-credit question in the form of an apocryphal riddle that's making the e-mail rounds. 

Q: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain are in a row boat in the middle of the North Atlantic. A sudden squall capsizes the vessel, dumping all three into the icy depths, hundreds of miles from shore. Who is saved?

A: The United States of America