Not My Job: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Gets Quizzed On 2020

Apr 8, 2017

John Hickenlooper came to Colorado to work for an energy company. But he promptly got laid off and needed something else to do — so he decided to open a brewpub. The beer must have been pretty good, because he was elected mayor of Denver and, in 2010, governor of the state.

We've invited Hickenlooper to play a game called "Somebody has plans for 2020." Three questions about exciting things scheduled for the year 2020, that definitely aren't the next U.S. presidential election.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

And now the game where the high and mighty take on the low and silly. It's called Not My Job. John Hickenlooper was born in Pennsylvania, but got a degree in geology and came out to Colorado to work for an energy company which promptly laid him off.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Looking around for something to do, he decided to open a brewpub. It must have been pretty...

(CHEERING)

SAGAL: And as seems to be the case, it was good beer because the grateful customers then elected him mayor of Denver...

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: ...And in 2010, governor of the great state of Colorado. Governor John Hickenlooper...

(CHEERING)

SAGAL: Welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME. So we researched this. You were the first brewer to be elected to office - elected to be governor - since Sam Adams. Did you know that?

(LAUGHTER)

JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Yeah. They taught me.

SAGAL: So does this mean in, like, 200 years, your beer is also going to suck?

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: That's not fair.

SAGAL: That's absolutely fair.

HICKENLOOPER: I am glad you got to the beer because I was worried with all the pot jokes, that you'd...

SAGAL: Oh, no.

HICKENLOOPER: ...You'd forget that we have 350 breweries in the state of Colorado.

TOM BODETT: Oh.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Wow.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So 350 breweries, legalized weed - does anybody here ever work?

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: We view this as the state of a balanced life - hard work, hard play.

SAGAL: Exactly.

(CHEERING)

SAGAL: I thought you were going to be like - a balanced life - beer, then pot, then beer.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: Let me just say that it is possible to do neither and just have your thoughts clear at the end of the night.

(LAUGHTER)

ALONZO BODDEN: Not in Colorado.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: And I would be willing to bet that the corn nuts people are behind you.

SAGAL: Yeah.

BODETT: Cheetos and Goldfish are just flying off the shelves.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You haven't - you haven't mentioned the boat loads of money the state is taking in, right? Are, like, other governors coming up to you and, like, calling you on the sly and going, how can I - how can I do this?

HICKENLOOPER: I will say many governors have talked to me about it.

POUNDSTONE: How many governors have called you up not because they want to legalize pot in their own state, but because they want to come here and get high with you?

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: Zero.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, right.

HICKENLOOPER: Not one.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Whatever you say is legal here in Colorado is over - you know, it's also overseen by the federal government, so basically everybody in this audience is a drug criminal. Congratulations.

(CHEERING)

SAGAL: Did you and, oh, President Obama ever get together and hash out these...

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: I get it.

SAGAL: ...These - that was entirely unintentional - and discuss...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Get down into the weeds, if you were...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Of these important and complex issues of federalism?

HICKENLOOPER: We certainly discussed it on a couple of occasions.

SAGAL: I understand - you worked this out over a game of pool, I'm told.

HICKENLOOPER: We did. How'd you know that? We did play a couple games of pool when...

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: Back in 2000 - you know, he is an amazing - I mean, the guy has got to be one the most competitive people on Earth. And I own a pool hall. I mean, I'm not a bad guy with a stick.

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: And he cleaned my clock.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Did he really? I know that - I guess, I'm just saying that the president has said in his own autobiography that he was an enthusiast of pre-legal marijuana back in the day. So I'm guessing you're playing a friendly game of pool. Or was there a wager involved?

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: There was. We played for 10 bucks for the first game, and I was way ahead. I was up five balls to one. I had a shot that I was worried I might sink, and then I might beat the leader of the free world, but I decided to go for it. I missed it a little bit. And then he sank four balls and then - and then two more balls and then sank the eight ball. And we played double or nothing, and he that's when he cleaned my clock.

SAGAL: Really? Do you think he was, like, leading you on? He was like, so how do you play this game?

HICKENLOOPER: I think so. I think so.

SAGAL: Yeah.

HICKENLOOPER: I don't think - he certainly didn't mention the fact that he had a pool table in the third for the White House until after he took my 20 bucks.

SAGAL: Really?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You're a twice-elected governor in a purple state.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But you're term-limited. You're done in 2018, right?

HICKENLOOPER: Yep.

SAGAL: Yeah, 2018. Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Just thinking. What do you imagine you might be doing, say, two years after that? Is anything - is there anything you'd like to say to this audience or the people listening in, say, Iowa?

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: My focus - and I've said this a dozen times - my focus - I've got about 662 days, I think. I have little thing on my calendar that shows me the days.

SAGAL: You think it's 662.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, rough - just a...

SAGAL: Rough - rough - roughly.

HICKENLOOPER: We're going to keep a hundred percent of our concentration - no PAC, no committees to run for office. And two years from now, if everyone else is running, then we'll see.

(CHEERING)

SAGAL: I see. All right.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: I'm going ask you one last question about Colorado. Colorado such a diverse state in terms of its politics, how in the world does one person manage to succeed in this crazy, mixed up, rather rectangular place?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, just - you know, we're the only headwater state, so we're - all the rivers start here.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: What does that mean?

HICKENLOOPER: It means all the rivers - no rivers start some other state and come into our state. All the rivers start here, so if you average out all the elevation of all the spaces...

SAGAL: Yeah.

HICKENLOOPER: ...We're the highest state. And don't you say a word about marijuana.

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: My last - my last plug is that the - if you took a magical piece of silk and stretched it over the entire state, and it was so magical that you could drape over every mountain, go down and fill up every valley and every stream bed...

SAGAL: Yeah.

HICKENLOOPER: ...And then you could magically lift this up and stretch it out, Colorado's bigger than Texas.

BODDEN: Whoa.

(CHEERING)

POUNDSTONE: I think everybody's probably thinking this.

SAGAL: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: How high were you when you thought of that?

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: Five thousand, two hundred and eighty feet.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well, Governor Hickenlooper, we are delighted to talk to you. And we've invited you here to play a game we're calling...

BILL KURTIS: ...Somebody Has Plans for 2020.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Since you refuse to commit to doing anything in 2020, we thought we'd ask you about some of the exciting things that are scheduled for that year. Answer two out of three questions about the year 2020, and you'll become the Democratic presidential nominee anyway.

(CHEERING)

SAGAL: Anyway, you will also want a prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Governor Hickenlooper playing for?

KURTIS: Alex Leahy of Denver, Colo.

SAGAL: There you go.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: (Inaudible) Your first question - you ready to do this?

HICKENLOOPER: I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right. Facebook is going to be radically different in 2020 when which of these things happen? A, it will change its name to reflect its broader reach to WholeBodyBook.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: B, by some estimates, that is the year that the number of dead people on Facebook will outnumber the living.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Or, C, starting that year, pictures of children under five years old will be banned because - enough already.

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: I think the number of dead people outnumbering alive people.

SAGAL: Well, you're right. Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: That is the projection. Well, you did well with that one. Here's your next question. A very special film awaits theatregoers in 2020 - scheduled for release then. Which of these is it - A, the one and only screening of "Ambiance" - at 720 hours long, it will be the longest film ever made - B, "Fast And Furious 12: Lil Rascal Scooter Drift"...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Or, C, "My Mother, The Car: The Movie"?

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: Oh. It's got to be "My Mother, The Car: The Movie."

SAGAL: Oh, that would be awesome, but no.

POUNDSTONE: No.

(LAUGHTER)

HICKENLOOPER: "Ambiance"?

SAGAL: Yes. It's called "Ambiance." It is an art project. It's going to be 720 hours long. It's about 36 days. It'll be shown once. You have till 2020, people with legal marijuana, to stock up 'cause...

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: I just want to go on record as saying I don't think it's going to do that well.

SAGAL: No, probably not.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right. This is exciting 'cause if you get this last one, you win for our listener. Travelers to London will have reason to celebrate in 2020 when which of these amazing attractions opens - A, Rising Waters, the climate-change-assisted water park...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...B, the world's first all-corgi petting zoo...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Or, C, the BBC Land theme park.

(LAUGHTER)

BODETT: Oh, my God. That's dreadful to consider.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: C, C, C.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: C, C, C.

HICKENLOOPER: Oh, they're telling me C. All right. I say C.

SAGAL: There you are - C. You're right. They're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Everybody's right.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: BBC theme park - they're going to have attractions based on their popular shows "Sherlock" and "Doctor Who." We were hoping for, like, the BBC World Service ride.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: How did the governor do on our quiz, Bill?

KURTIS: Let this be a premonition. The governor is a winner.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Clearly. That's two city elections, two statewide elections and one this, right? Ladies and gentlemen, of the great state of Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper, your governor, our friend. Governor Hickenlooper, what a pleasure. Thank you so much for playing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH")

JOHN DENVER: (Singing) Rocky Mountain high - Colorado. Rocky Mountain high...

SAGAL: In just a minute, we spend the day in bed in our Listener Limerick Challenge game. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME for NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.