Lawmakers everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief, as one of their own was crowned the "Best Speller in the United States," after an epic spelling showdown that took place Wednesday night at the National Press Club.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., walked away with the prize (which included a very fat dictionary) after battling it out with journos, including the Huffington Post's Howard Fineman, The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty and Fox News Channel's Ed Henry.
One hundred years ago at the Press Club, lawmakers won a spelling bee against reporters. Wednesday's competition was the rematch. It kicked off with a word that was way too relevant in political spelling bee history: potato. "P-o-t-a-t-o," said Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., not falling into the Dan Quayle trap. Huffington Post's Fineman was next and started telling the audience a story about covering vice president Quayle, who was ragged on for years for his inability to spell "potato." Fineman was promptly shut up when given the word "stenographer" to spell.
CBS' Major Garrett made the first mistake. "Will CBS turn off the cameras?" he pleaded before misspelling the word "vaccination."
Buzzfeed's Kate Nocera preempted her fall by saying, "I only do gifs and lists." She got "bureaucracy" wrong. Next up, Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., explained why he wouldn't do any better. "I'd be better prepared, but I was busy looking at her gifs," he said, not meaning to sound tawdry, though the audience would beg to differ. He stayed in until one of the last rounds.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., couldn't spell "shenanigans." He explained: "I'm Mormon, I'm not supposed to know anything about shenanigans."
Only Kaine and Politico's Rebecca Sinderbrand were left in the final round. "If every spelling bee had an open bar my elementary school years would have been much better," Kaine said about the bee. While Sinderbrand bungled "vicissitude," Kaine correctly spelled out "nonpareil" and was given the trophy. (The media team also walked away a winner because more members of that team stayed in the bee longer.)
"I'm going to let staff fill it up with a beverage for me," Kaine told Whispers, acknowledging the trophy. Any preference? "I'll leave it to their imagination," he said.