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Prologue

Ira speaks with Middle East specialist Michelle Dunne to answer this question: Before the recent Arab uprisings, just how hard was the US pushing the government of Egypt to enact human rights reforms? (7 1/2 minutes)

Prologue

Ira Glass plays clips from a documentary film called Please Vote for Me, by Weijun Chen. It follows a third grade class in central China in the very first election they've ever had or witnessed.

Act One

Ira Glass speaks with JoAnn Chiakulas, the only Juror on the trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who believed he was innocent of trying to sell Barack Obama's senate seat.

Prologue

Republican Bill Jerke, a very conservative former Colorado State Legislator known as a tax "enemy," has a surprising job this election season. He's going around to lots of different conservative groups and urging voters NOT to vote for three Colorado ballot initiatives that would cut state taxes so severely, they'd essentially strangle state government from here on out.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass speaks with reporter Larry Kaplow and producer Nancy Updike, who spent a month in Iraq as the US combat mission was ending, in August 2010, talking to Iraqis. They play excerpts from a conversation they had with a Shiite professor—who had pizza recently with a Sunni friend, and realized just how tense things still are in Iraq.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass with Dave Weigel, political reporter for Slate.com, about manufactured outrage in American politics, and how it's an effective way to bring in cash and mobilize your followers, as Christine O'Donnell and former Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer have demonstrated.

Act One: What's That Smell?

A retired millionaire tries to understand the reality of a tough, seedy, inner city neighborhood. But what if the neighborhood is none of those things? Ira Glass evaluates the claims of this millionaire, Steve Poizner, who is also running for governor of California.

Prologue

Back in November, two weeks after he was elected president, Barack Obama delivered a pre-taped speech to an international conference on global warming that was convened in Los Angeles by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. It wasn't Obama's most important speech, but the effect it had on the audience was profound—mostly because they heard it through the haze of the last eight years.

Act Three: Lions And Lambs

When Barack Obama chose Rick Warren of Saddleback Church to give a prayer at his inauguration, gay and lesbian groups cried foul, because of Warren's past remarks about homosexuality and gay marriage. But Rick Warren's constituents—Christian conservatives—also got angry.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Yale law professor Jack Balkin about what he calls the Bush Administration's "lawyering style," a tendency to fight as hard as it can, on all fronts, to get what it wants. Ira also plays tape from a news conference with New York Senator Charles Schumer, in which he takes the Justice Department to task for refusing to pay death benefits to the families of two auxiliary policemen who were killed in the line of duty, even though federal law grants those benefits.

Act One: The Prez Vs. The Commish.

Ira Glass tells the story of a little-known treaty dispute with far-reaching ramifications for our understanding of executive power. The dispute is between the President and one of his appointees...to the International Boundary Commission with Canada.

Act Three: 44

Ira Glass interviews Charlie Savage, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Boston Globe, who's written a book called Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy about the ways the Bush Administration claims executive powers that other presidents haven't claimed. Charlie talks with Ira about the current candidates for President and their views on the scope of executive power.

Prologue

Two stories about people who suddenly realize they're the only ones around who value the separation of church and state. Paul Williams, a city councilman in Janesville, Wisconsin, wants to make sure a Salvation Army built with public money doesn't proselytize.

Act One: The Substance Of Things Hoped For...In Government.

We hear a quick rundown of all the ways that Christian conservatives are making headway in advancing their values as public policy, why they think total separation of church and state is not what the founding fathers intended. And why they're wrong.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass asks how it's possible that some people still don't know what they think of President Bush just a few days before election day.

Act One: My Buddy, Hackett

Ira spends hours talking to James Hackett, known to his friends, and by the end of the story, to Ira, as Gig. He's a doctor in Cincinnati and a lifelong Republican.

Act One: Our Own Worst Enemy?

In this election year, one question is rarely asked in a very direct way: Is the Bush Administration competent at conducting the war on terror? Every few weeks it seems like there's more news about how badly it's going: Senior Administration officials like Colin Powell now admit the insurgency in Iraq is growing; terror suspects like Yasir Hamdi (who supposedly were so dangerous that having a lawyer talk to them about their case would compromise national security) are released without trial because the evidence against them is so flimsy; there was the Abu Ghraib prison scandal; and just this week, the former head of the U.S. operation in Iraq, Paul Bremer, declared the problem from the start was that there were not enough troops there. Host Ira Glass discusses whether the Bush Administration is simply not very skilled at fighting terror with Richard Perle and James Fallows.

Prologue

Writer Thomas Frank went on the radio show On Point to talk about his book What's the Matter With Kansas? The book is about how people in his home state keep voting for Republicans even though Republican policies aren't helping them economically. But the people who called in to the radio show didn't exactly see it his way.

Act One: Pink Elephant

Patrick Howell, a gay Republican from Orlando, goes on what might seem like an ill-fated hearts-and-minds mission at the Republican Convention.

Act Four: It's My Party

One of the most civil conversations you'll ever hear between GOP members on opposite sides of the party's culture war. Log Cabin Republican Patrick Howell from Act One sits down to talk with Christian Republican Steven King from Act Two, to hash out their differences.