PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Finally, a woman who emerged from the national stage in 2018 and her run for governor of Georgia. Some people say that Stacey Abrams is a superhero, but it turns out she's just another nerd like us.
BILL KURTIS: We asked her about her first big national gig back in January.
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SAGAL: I really want to find out about the process of giving the State of the Union response. But first of all, you must know that that is a cursed job, right?
STACEY ABRAMS: Yes.
SAGAL: Right. So...
ABRAMS: I don't have a job right now, so I was free.
SAGAL: That's true.
SAGAL: But whenever anybody mentions the response to the State of the Union, it doesn't matter what party, people say, oh, yeah, Bobby Jindal looked like a baby, and Marco Rubio with the water, and the Democrat with the lips. And so you - how did you say - how did you plan that you would not end up on that list?
ABRAMS: I drank a lot of water early.
ABRAMS: I used a low gloss but very moisturizing lipstick.
ABRAMS: And I prayed really hard.
SAGAL: Did you - it's technically called a response.
SAGAL: Did you think at all about what you anticipated President Trump might say so you could respond to it?
ABRAMS: I would put it this way. I have heard him speak before.
ABRAMS: I assumed it would be some combination of demagoguery, self-aggrandizement, two lines about something nice that he would three lines later overrule.
MO ROCCA: Did you know that it would rhyme?
ABRAMS: You know what? That I missed. And, you know, I feel sorry for whoever thought that was the right way to go.
ROCCA: Have met before?
ROCCA: Because I went to theater camp with at least three girls named Stacey Abrams.
ABRAMS: It's entirely possible.
ABRAMS: Were you at my bat mitzvah?
SAGAL: So everybody knows you for your 2018 gubernatorial campaign here in Georgia. But what people may not know is that you have this completely different career writing romance novels. Can you tell us about that?
ABRAMS: So I had this very bad breakup with one of my boyfriends. He is a chemical physicist. He's a wonderful person, and we're friends now. I read his dissertation when I was in law school on microzeolite (ph) technology - anyway, nobody cares.
ROCCA: For that alone, oh, my God.
ABRAMS: It was actually really interesting.
ABRAMS: And so I thought, oh, this thing he discovered - I was like, you could impropriate it and create this chemical weapon that could be discovered by this chemical physicist. And I told him about it. And he was like, that could never happen. I'm like, this is why we broke up. You have no imagination.
ABRAMS: So in law school, I decided to write two things. I wrote a very exciting treatise on the operational dissonance of the unrelated business income tax exemption.
ABRAMS: And then I wrote "Rules Of Engagement," which is a romantic suspense novel. So I technically write romantic suspense. I kill a lot of people. And then those who survive can fall in love.
SAGAL: Oh, really?
ABRAMS: And then "Rules Of Engagement" - my ex-boyfriend, in the genesis of the story, languishes in prison for the rest of his natural life.
SAGAL: Stacey Abrams, it is such a pleasure to talk to you. We have invited you here to play a game we're calling...
KURTIS: It's a fond (ph) bromance.
SAGAL: So we have established that you are a successful writer of romances, but what do you know about bromance? Bromance, the love that dare not speak its name but instead shouts it at frat parties.
SAGAL: We're going to ask you three questions about bromances. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - the voice of anyone they like giving a response on their voicemail. Bill, who is Stacey Abrams playing for?
KURTIS: Eli Irvin (ph) of Pooler, Ga.
SAGAL: There you go.
SAGAL: All right. You ready to do this?
ABRAMS: I am.
SAGAL: Here's your first question. Bromances go way back. Which of these is a real example of a historical bromance? A, St. Augustine used to invite his best pal Olympias to hang out in an actual cave with him in the mountains, which he called, our beloved man cave...
SAGAL: ...B, in the early 1800s, composer Franz Schubert was such close friends with poet Franz von Schober that he referred to themselves together as Schobert...
SAGAL: ...Or C, although it was edited out of many Bibles, there's one paragraph in the Book of Genesis about Adam and his friend Jeff (ph)?
ABRAMS: I'm going to go with A.
SAGAL: You're going to go with St. Augustine...
ABRAMS: I'm going to go with St. Augustine.
SAGAL: ...Invented the man cave?
ABRAMS: He did so much for the world.
SAGAL: He did.
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE: B.
ABRAMS: But because I listen to the audience...
PETER GROSZ: Listen to the people.
ABRAMS: The people believe the answer is B. And therefore, I will throw myself on their mercy and blame them if I lose again.
SAGAL: They're right this time. It was B.
SAGAL: All right. One of the most famous bromances is, of course, is between Bert and Ernie on "Sesame Street."
SAGAL: We all know about the rumors that they're gay. They're not gay. They don't exist from the waist down. But...
ROCCA: You know, you can still make it work.
SAGAL: There was another rumor that haunted Bert and Ernie for at least a decade. What was it? A, that they were a hot dog and hamburger brought to life by a wizard...
SAGAL: ...B, that they were intended to be a sly parody when they were invented of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew...
SAGAL: ...Or C, that Bert was secretly dead?
ABRAMS: That got dark really fast.
SAGAL: It did, yeah.
ABRAMS: I feel like B is the answer.
SAGAL: I'm going to give you a hint. The hint is that this rumor was most prevalent in the '90s.
GROSZ: Maybe it is A.
ROCCA: In the '90s?
ABRAMS: I think it's C.
SAGAL: You think it's C?
ABRAMS: I think it's C because we were really dark in the '90s.
SAGAL: She's right. It was C.
SAGAL: It was exactly like the whole Beatles thing. There was, like, a conspiracy theory. You can tell he's dead because X, Y and Z. But, no, he's not dead. He was never alive.
SAGAL: Last question. The bromance between Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce started in Paris in the 1920s, of course. Joyce and Hemingway would often go to bars together. And their nights usually ended when which of these happened? A, Joyce would get really drunk, start spouting gibberish, and Hemingway would write it down, eventually creating "Finnegans Wake"...
SAGAL: ...B, Joyce would get really drunk, pick fights and then hide behind Hemingway, screaming, deal with him, Hemingway, deal with him; or C, Hemingway would get really drunk and then eventually try to pick up Joyce, saying, come on, so what if you have a mustache, Joyce is a woman's name, right?
ABRAMS: I don't think it's the first one. I don't think Hemingway shared. So I don't think the last one. So I think by the process of elimination, it has to be B.
SAGAL: You're right. That's what it was.
SAGAL: So, Bill, how did Stacey Abrams do in this little contest?
KURTIS: She won this one.
SAGAL: Stacey Abrams is the founder of Fair Fight Action, the author of "Minority Leader." More information can be found at fairfightaction.com. Stacey Abrams, thank you so much...
ABRAMS: Thank you.
SAGAL: ...For being on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
SAGAL: That's it for our team of superheroes until we come back with the inevitable sequel...
KURTIS: Avengers: Disassemble.
(LAUGHTER) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.