Actor beats U.S. Education Secretary on Celebrity Jeopardy

The Bush administration can't even play the television game Jeopardy right, as actor Michael McKean (Spinal Tap) handily trounced U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings on tonight's episode.

McKean ended with $38,400, with Spellings a distant second place with $11,100. The latter amount was augmented with a "gimme" that would have not been given to a non-celebrity player. (The question was how many strings a harp has, 7, 47, or 147. Spellings initially answered 747, before changing it to 47.) Another actor ended with $6800.

The proceeds were donated to charity, with McKeon's amount being increased to $50,000. To abide by federal law, Jeopardy chose Spelling's charity for her.

Margaret Spellings is a former Bush assistant who can be seen in the barely-known video described here. In the video, she describes the original Bush "guest" worker plan, an extremely anti-American and un-American scheme that "would be open to any type of employee and any type of employer, such as nurses, teachers, high-tech workers, low-skilled workers". That scheme would have driven wages for previously well-paying jobs down near the minimum wage.

Michael McKean starred as Leonard 'Lenny' Kosnowski on Laverne & Shirley and as David St. Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap. He also appeared as "Clown" in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, as "Porterfield 'Porty' Pendleton" in the Teddy Bears' Picnic, and as Jerry Palter in A Mighty Wind. Whether he has ever been employed to direct U.S. government policy is not known, but he did play "INS Deputy Comissioner Gorman Seedling" in the Coneheads movie and MIB "Morris Fletcher" in four episodes of the X-Files television program.

UPDATE: The cool kids have video and even a link from Insty. Spellings offers a list of excuses here:

"I didn't want to be the Education Secretary who didn't know how to spell potato," Spellings joked, describing how she read books and sought advice from a former show contender and her daughters... ...She said she didn't realize how much skill went into hitting the buzzer at just the right moment after host Alex Trebek read a clue. She said she often hit it too early and as a result didn't get picked to tackle a category...

From the previous link, BushBots provide their own set of excuses:

From the excerpts shown, she seemed to do fine, and finished above $10K, which is not bad at all on Jeopardy... ...Politicians usually do really lousy. I still remember how dumb former Rep. Pat Schroeder was. And lets not talk about most pro athletes... ...In her defense, Lenny was rocking and rolling. He had his brain set to 11... You know, Michael McKean was just on such a streak last night, I think Ken Jennings would have had a problem with him. He simply didn’t get very many questions wrong - and apparently was very quick on the buzzer. Sec. Spellings didn't lose as much as Michael McKean very obviously won - although a couple blown answers by her didn’t help her at all. In the end it was both entertaining and $100,000 to some worthy organizations.

More excuses here:

What's wrong with this picture? I mean, we decide how smart someone is based on trivia? ...Memorizing facts does not make one intelligent... it's what you do with the facts you know. I've known plenty of "book-smart" people who can't accomplish much of anything in reality... ...I don't think the Education Secretary's job description includes being a walking encyclopedia. It was done for charity. She did her best. Nothing embarassing about losing to another person on Jeopardy... ...I think Secretary Spellings did well,but Mr Mckean did exceptionally well. As a matter of fact, all three players were winners... ...Why would an education secretary be a whiz at all topics great and small? Just because that evenings topics were more in line with what Lenny knew, doesn't mean that she doesn't know anything... ...Since when is quick recall of trivial information a good indicator of brain power? There's a huge difference between knowing trivia and applying useful information to better oneself and the community...


This story is great and what is even more hilarious is the fact that the administration made public statement about the incident. I think the fact that they even had to address it says something haha. Nice article.