The Vice President snored loudly during much of President Obama’s budget speech yesterday, causing some embarrassment for the President and members of the cabinet who were sitting nearby. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner could be seen on video jabbing Biden in the ribs with his elbow, but the VP was out for the count. However, in a statement released by Biden’s office, his snoozing was apparently an attempt to create sympathy for federal air traffic controllers.
“It is true that the Vice President nodded off briefly during the President’s speech,” read the statement. “It was all part of a plan that has been discussed for days. The Vice President wanted to demonstrate that even the second most powerful man in the world can succumb to sleepiness, so it’s little wonder that air traffic controllers are having a hard time staying awake at their posts. Congress needs to spend more money on sleep research, and the Vice President intends to push this cause hard.”
Sleep debt is a growing national crisis, according to many experts. A Reuter’s poll found that 58% of Americans joined Biden in snoozing through the President’s George Washington University address, while 24% claimed to have only nodded off briefly.
But when questioned more closely by reporters, Biden would not confirm that his catnap had any connection to recent air traffic controller incidents. “Yeah, look, you caught me napping. I admit it. I’m 69 years old, for crying out loud,” said the unflappable Biden. “Whenever Barack starts yammering about deficits, I’m sorry, but it puts me right back into Professor Mumford’s freshman econ class back at the University of Delaware. That guy was better than Valium.”
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stood up for the VP. “Joe’s like Superman and financial discussions are his Kryptonite. We’ll be in a cabinet meeting and I’ll just toss out the word “fiduciary,” just for laughs, and you can watch Joe’s eyelids sink. I can’t get 3 words out on tax policy before his head is on the conference table.”
Research has found that Obama’s voice may be particularly sleep-inducing. In fact, because of studies last year looking at test subjects’ reactions to the President’s State of the Union address, an emergency rule change was put into effect banning long-haul truckers, airline pilots, railroad engineers and nuclear power plant operators from listening to a presidential speech while on the job.
“The danger was just that serious,” explained Dr. Phillip Flannigan of the University of Chicago. “We discovered that truckers high on methamphetamines were safer on the road than drivers listening to an Obama speech. It was quite alarming, actually.”
In related news, two members of the Washington Press Corps apparently stayed awake during the President’s entire speech and have been suspended from reporting pending an investigation, according to the New York Times.
Photo credit: The Associated Press