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Listeners: Political Interviews, RPS, Yucatec


Time now for your letters. Many of you want the media to ask tougher questions of people in power, but some felt we asked too many questions after Democrats won power in Congress. We interviewed Democratic Congressman John Murtha. He's of course an outspoken critic of how the war in Iraq has been conducted. And Steve asked him this question.


Although you point out it's not a dictatorship, but there's the flip side there too. Can you fight the war by committee, by overruling the commander-in-chief?

Representative JOHN MURTHA (Democrat, Pennsylvania): Well, it's not a matter of overruling. As I say over and over again, you're looking for a confrontation. We're trying to figure out - what did they do when I spoke out? They tried to demonize me. They tried to demonize anybody that had a policy difference with the White House.

INSKEEP: The questions to John Murtha prompted Sharon Villa, from Chehalis, Washington to write that my, quote, "conservative bias came through loud and clear."

MONTAGNE: Mike Campbell of Eudora, Kansas said he thought the Murtha interview contained, quote, "tough but fair questions about how Democrats will wield the power they won." But he went on to ask when we would question Republicans?

INSKEEP: As it happens, questions we've put to Republicans during this election season prompted some listeners to accuse us of liberal bias. NPR's independent ombudsman analyzed our interview with Republican Senator Rick Santorum and you can read that at

MONTAGNE: We also received many letters about something senior correspondent Juan Williams said. He was talking about the presumptive new speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

JUAN WILLIAMS: Pelosi maybe a 66-year-old grandmother, but she's showing a really bold streak here.

MONTAGNE: Kelly Cullahan(ph) of Atlanta writes, Do you think that 66-year-old grandmothers are weaklings? Your comment this morning regarding Pelosi is reflective of the pervasive dangerous attitudes regarding older women in this country.

INSKEEP: Some of you may recall our interview about the World Rock Paper Scissors Championship. That interview brought out the competitive side in Pat Clancy of Ennis, Montana.

MONTAGNE: He writes, In Montana we use the RPS method to determine who gets what job on our three-person state fisheries crew. Often we face cold and windy conditions, rocky footing and biting bugs. Would competitors in the RPS Championship be able to perform under such conditions? I suspect not.

INSKEEP: Finally, we have a small complaint about our report on Mel Gibson's forthcoming new movie, Apocalypto. We said the film, which is about the ancient Mayans, is performed entirely in the Yucatec dialect.

MONTAGNE: Well, John Tucksill(ph) of Bellingham, Washington, takes issue with that designation. He says he speaks Yucatec and it's a distinct language, not a dialect.

Mr. JOHN TUCKSILL (Bellingham, Washington): I'm sure NPR's Europe-based reporters would never refer to Spanish, French and Italian as Latin dialects. This correction is accompanied by my unabashed pleasure at hearing Yucatec spoken over my radio this morning. So to NPR, I say (foreign language). Have a good day.

INSKEEP: Oh, that's my...

MONTAGNE: Steve, that's you.

INSKEEP: I guess it is.

MONTAGNE: That's great, huh?

INSKEEP: I was just taken by the Yucatec.

MONTAGNE: Isn't it cool? Yeah.

INSKEEP: Anyway, I - I'm supposed to say here you don't have to speak Yucatec to send us a comment. Just go to and click Contact Us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.