Biden Goes Electric | Crooked Media
Pod Save America Live NYC & Boston guest hosts just announced! Get Tickets Pod Save America Live NYC & Boston guest hosts just announced! Get Tickets
August 06, 2021
What A Day
Biden Goes Electric

In This Episode

  • President Biden announced his goal to make new vehicles greener in his administration’s first major use of federal regulatory power to cut carbon emissions. Still, some climate advocacy groups say that Biden’s executive order doesn’t go far enough compared to the plans of other countries to achieve zero emissions.
  • New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has been given until Friday the 13th to submit evidence in his defense for his impeachment investigation, which began back in March and focused not only on sexual harassment claims but also the handling of data about COVID deaths in nursing homes. We discuss what the impeachment process might look like with Josefa Velasquez, senior reporter at The City.
  • And in headlines: the Justice Department launches an investigation into Phoenix’s police department, wildfires rage in Europe and the U.S., and Ibiza enlists undercover officers to infiltrate illegal dance parties.





Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, August 6th. I’m Gideon Resnick.


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where if Jeopardy doesn’t hire LeVar Burton, we will simply recut Reading Rainbow and turn it into a game show.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, but instead of learning about books, now the kids on the show are going to be getting rich off of trivia.


Priyanka Aribindi: Good for them. It’ll probably be a full time job for us as well, but I think we’re prepared.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we got to go. We got to get this running.


Priyanka Aribindi: See ya. On today’s show. A restaurant in San Francisco jokingly put a $72 fried rice on the menu and it became the bane of their existence. Plus, we give you a road map to the possible impeachment of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.


Gideon Resnick: But we are going to start with President Biden’s pledge yesterday to make new vehicles greener.


[clip of President Biden] That’s why today I’m signing an executive order setting out a target of 50% of all passenger vehicles sold by 2030 will be electric, and set into motion an all-out effort.


Priyanka Aribindi: That was President Biden announcing his non-binding goal for a new executive order. It would also require that cars and trucks sold in the US be more fuel efficient, starting with the model year 2023.


Gideon Resnick: OK, so all of this sounds pretty good, but how much work is that nonbinding part actually doing?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so 50% is a goal. No one’s going to be sitting at every car dealership making sure that every other car sold is electric. But Biden does have buy-in from major automakers for setting similar goals of their own for their auto sales in the US. For GM and Stellantis, which is the company that owns a bunch of brands like Chrysler and Dodge, have all endorsed the plan, as well as BMW, Honda, Volkswagen and Volvo. That’s important because this is a big change for the auto industry, the cars and batteries that they’re making, the workers and kinds of jobs that they need, and lots more.


Gideon Resnick: So when Biden announced this yesterday, you were talking about how excited he seemed about all of this.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Honestly, it’s a shame that this is a podcast because he looks very happy driving an electric Jeep Wrangler around the South Lawn yesterday. Would have loved to show you all. He also made GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, promise him something.


[clip of President Biden] I tell you what and I want to say publicly, I have a commitment from Mary when they make the first electric Corvette, I get to drive it. Right, Mary? Do you think I’m kidding? I’m not kidding. My entire Secret Service detail went, Oh, my God, let’s go.


Priyanka Aribindi: Just relentlessly on brand for him.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I’m with Secret Service in thinking, be careful when you get behind the wheel that. OK, so this executive order is a big move for Biden’s overall climate agenda.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So this is his administration’s first major use of federal regulatory power to cut carbon emissions. And with gas powered cars and trucks being the greatest source of those emissions in the US, the administration is estimating that this will have significant impacts on pollution and climate change. It will conserve an estimated 200 billion gallons of gas and prevent two metric tons of carbon pollution.


Gideon Resnick: That is quite a bit.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. But some advocacy groups like the Sunrise Movement say that this rule doesn’t go far enough. Varshini Prakash, the group’s executive director, pointed out in a statement that 11 other countries have set targets to achieve 100% zero emissions vehicle sales honored before that same date of 2030.


Gideon Resnick: OK, so those are very different goals. America is at half and other countries at 100. So where do we actually stand as of now?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s a really long road ahead to get to both of these goals. Right now, less than four percent of new cars in the US for electric vehicles or plug in hybrids to get to this 50 percent goal in just nine years or anywhere close, people need to actually be buying these cars. It sounds really obvious, but according to polls, more Americans would consider purchasing electric vehicles if they were less expensive, if they had more models to pick from, and if charging stations were more accessible. And that is where the White House is hoping that Congress can step in and help. They want to help give consumers more incentives to buy, automakers more incentives to innovate, and to build a bigger charging network nationwide, and not just in the parking lot of fancy grocery stores, which is where I tend to see them all the time.


Gideon Resnick: Yup.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, but one avenue to start with this is passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes seven and a half billion dollars to build more electric vehicle charging stations. The Senate is currently racing to get to a final vote on the bill. And we will update you as soon as we know what happens. That is the latest on Biden’s plans for cars and the climate. Let’s turn to New York State now. Earlier this week, the state’s attorney general detailed, graphically at times, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s alleged harassment of 11 women. Now, as the week is ending, he still doesn’t seem interested in resigning as we go to record. And so Cuomo instead is quite likely going to face impeachment. Gideon, you’ve been tracking this for a while. What do we expect here?


Gideon Resnick: I wish I knew. We’re kind of in uncharted territory, to be honest. The first and last time the governor of New York was impeached and removed from office was over a hundred years ago. Nobody that I know was around. But a lot has happened in just the past day to get this process actually going. So here’s what we know as of now, the chairman of the New York State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, said that they would soon consider, quote unquote, “potential articles of impeachment”—that’s about as explicit as you can get. And Cuomo has been given until next Friday—ominously Friday the 13th, I might add—to submit evidence in his defense.


Priyanka Aribindi: Very ominous. And as a reminder, the Attorney General’s report is different than the impeachment investigation that the assembly began a long time ago, back in March.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that’s right. So, in fact, that one focused not only on the sexual harassment claims, but also, on Cuomo’s handling of data about COVID deaths in nursing homes, the book that he wrote and the use of state resources potentially for that. And of course, because this is the tristate area, there were questions about a potential cover up regarding structural problems on a bridge, namely one that is actually named after Cuomo’s father.


Priyanka Aribindi: There is just way too much going on here for me.


Gideon Resnick: Yes. Yes. I would like to exclude myself. But this week’s release of that Attorney General’s report and the new revelations that were within it, have really kicked the assembly’s moves into high gear. Reporting for The New York Times indicates that there have been a lot of recent behind-the-scenes conversations among these assembly members, just about the speed of an impeachment process and the scope of what that will look like. We’re going to link to that story as well.


Priyanka Aribindi: OK, so let’s assume that this impeachment process does get kicked off soon. What does that actually look like?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so for that answer. I talked to Josefa Velasquez. She is a senior reporter at the outlet The City. She explained that things effectively can get going as soon as Cuomo responds.


[clip of Josefa Velasquez] After that, they need to start drawing up the impeachment articles, which could take a week, could take two weeks, could take a day, could take a month. And then once it does that, chamber votes on it, then it has to deliver it to the state Senate, which needs to sit on that for 30 days. So let’s say this all happens very quickly and it starts happening tomorrow, it’ll be sometime in September before the governor is impeached.


Gideon Resnick: And in her own reporting, she said the last time a New York governor was impeached was William Sulzer in 1913, and that took about two months.


Priyanka Aribindi: Now, Americans should be experts or at least fairly familiar with the federal impeachment process after it happened twice to President Trump. It’s pretty similar on the state level in New York, right?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it basically translates. So we would first see these votes cast in the assembly, and then it would advance from there by simple majority. According to Velasquez, that would happen if the vote took place at this moment. They believe that they have the votes. Then it would move on to the High Court of Impeachment, most of which is actually the state Senate minus the Senate majority leader. And then if 2/3rds of those people vote to convict, Cuomo is removed from office. Then the state’s lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, would become governor for the rest of his term, which actually ends next year.


Priyanka Aribindi: And knowing how Cuomo operates, what is the expectation for what he’s going to do here if an impeachment trial does begin?


Gideon Resnick: Well, it definitely seems like he and the remaining people around that are still defending him at this point are going to do whatever it takes to try to hold on to his power, as has been the case for years now. And Velasquez said the assembly is being deliberate because they know exactly what kind of person they’re dealing with.


[clip of Josefa Velasquez] Andrew Cuomo is a lawyer and he has a lot of really smart people that are still advising him. They really want to make sure that they have a thing locked down because Andrew Cuomo is a brilliant political tactician and he’ll find a way to outmaneuver both politically and legally. And they’re scared of that, quite frankly.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that is quite scary.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And, you know, this whole endgame with Cuomo, whether it’s through impeachment, resignation or somehow him trying to find a way to last through the end of the term, all of it just kind of seems inconceivable given how long this man has been around.


[clip of Josefa Velasquez] I was assuming that Andrew Cuomo is going to be the governor for the rest of my life. What does he do after this? If he is not governor, what else can he possibly do? I don’t know. [laughs] Which just goes to show how much power he has been able to consolidate during his time as the chief executive. It’s just this really sort of bizarre situation, because either he resigns or he goes down in history as the second governor of New York to ever be impeached. Either way, it’s a stain on his legacy.


Gideon Resnick: We’re going to check back in on where things stand next week, but that is the latest for now.


It’s Friday, WAD squad and for today’s temp check we are talking about the pitfalls of restaurant food that is purely satirical. The San Francisco Chronicle article yesterday about a Vietnamese spot called Lily, which created an excessively indulgent, quote “#1 douchebag fried rice” as a joke, and then they watched in horror as it became their most popular dish. Of course. The $72 plate featured wagyu beef, uni, caviar, black truffle trimmings, and jidori egg yolks. Wow. It was only supposed to be on the menu for two weeks, but took off in popularity last year, with influencers correctly deducing that it was the exact type of item that would get you 10,000 likes on your post and a small write-up at Eater dot com. We all got to do what we got to do. The restaurant eventually found the resolve to remove the rice from the menu, forever, posting in June—forever, it’s gone—that quote, “We never meant for this to take off! This dish isn’t even Vietnamese!” Incredible. This meal definitely fits with viral bait foods that we’ve seen recently, like $200 French fries from a place in New York, or Kraft Mac & Cheese ice cream from Van Leeuwen—if you want to be vindictive about it. So, Priyanka, what are your thoughts on this #1 douchebag fried rice?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I have a lot of thoughts. But honestly, looking at these ingredients—and this might not be a popular opinion—I feel like this is underpriced. We talking about this before. Everyone’s mouth is basically watering.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah.


Priyanka Aribindi: I feel like you could hike the price up on that a little bit.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I think the second that there’s truffles, that’s a bat signal for the kinds of people that watch the Business Insider videos of like gold-plated wings to be like, I’ll pay $1,000 for that.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m not saying I would order this. That’s a no for me. I like a plain fried rice. That’s great.


Gideon Resnick: A plain one?!


Priyanka Aribindi: Just like a regular run of the mill, like, give me some eggs, give me like maybe some protein and the veggies, is wonderful.


Gideon Resnick: Got it.


Priyanka Aribindi: But I don’t need all of this. It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t spend money on a food item that was a little bait-y like this. I’ve certainly done that before.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Like what is your example, your equivalent douchebag fried rice example?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I recently spent a wild amount of money on a lobster Cobb salad, but I do feel in my defense it was shared between like seven people. It was quite large. But it was like a $90 salad.


Gideon Resnick: Yech. That’s steep.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Not something you look at, and you’re like, uh, great choice.


Gideon Resnick: Split among seven though, yeah. You’re really, you’re paying $15 or something with tax, right, as an individual.


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh yeah. Maybe. I can’t do that math in my head like that.


Gideon Resnick: I can’t either. We’ll just assume that that’s right. Just like that, we have checked our temps. If you’re going to pay for food as a bit, just maybe don’t. I don’t know, reconsider. And we’ll be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Priyanka Aribindi: The Department of Justice is launching an investigation into the police department of Phoenix, Arizona. It will look into whether officers there have been systematically using excessive force, discriminating against, or unlawfully seizing the belongings of people experiencing homelessness. The Phoenix Police Department has been widely criticized in recent years for its treatment of protesters demonstrating against police brutality and its high number of officer shootings. This investigation marks one of the first times the Justice Department will be focusing on the constitutional rights of unhoused people in a civil investigation. It’s also the third civil investigation into police departments brought on under the Biden administration. Similar investigations into the police departments in Minneapolis and Louisville are still ongoing.


Gideon Resnick: Looking now into the infinite pitch dark cave of bad climate change news, as always: wildfires continue to rage around the world. Since late July, 180 fires have broken out in Turkey, resulting in 8 deaths, 10 hospitalizations and hundreds of villagers being evacuated. Italy’s south is seeing 3x as many wildfires this summer compared to the yearly average, while the north is dealing with severe flooding and intense rains. And over 100 fires in Greece put Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, in danger, with firefighters working through Wednesday night to protect the archeological site. The Dixie Fire is one of 96 that are currently burning in the US, and is currently also the 6th largest fire in California’s history.


Priyanka Aribindi: Really awful news. I hope that everybody is OK.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah.


Priyanka Aribindi: But we have some decidedly more lighthearted news coming up. In what is most definitely a theme in Mike Pompeo’s life, a bottle of whiskey has gotten him into some trouble. The State Department is looking into the whereabouts of a bottle gifted to the former Secretary of State by the government of Japan in 2219. It’s valued at $5,800 and could raise ethics concerns for Pompeo, since American officials aren’t allowed to accept gifts from foreign governments. For his part, Pompeo insists has no recollection of the pricey booze—of course he doesn’t—and described the State Department inquiry last night as, quote, “crazy talk.” Interesting choice of words here by Pompeo, since crazy talk is a known side effect of getting absolutely blasted off a used-car’s worth of Japanese alcohol. An ethics violation would not be surprising from Pompeo since he previously got called out by a State Department inspector general for making non-work related requests to employees. That happened after he successfully lobbied Trump to fire a different inspector general who is investigating him as well.


Gideon Resnick: I don’t understand why, just like buy a new one, dude. Like if you, if this is truly lost, just get, get a new one.


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s not lost. He drank it. We all know where it went. But like, yeah, just replace it. Move on. Why are we talking about this?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I don’t understand this. The world’s new best job is Ibiza party detective. Let me explain. The Spanish island getaway has shut down its famous clubs as a COVID precaution, but underground events have continued, leading to a new plan by the government to hire foreign undercover officers to find out where exactly the party at. The agents will pose as tourists, an identity that can be assumed in Ibiza by asking everyone around if they’re selling ecstasy. And officers are going to be tasked with hanging out in bars and scoring invitations to after-hours dance parties. So, look, do not take this job unless you want to find out extremely fast whether or not you are cool. The government aims to identify events early in time to stop people from going to them. The Balearic Islands, which include Ibiza, reported more new COVID cases than any other region in Spain last week.


Priyanka Aribindi: All right. If it wasn’t for the COVID, like, I’m sorry, I’m there. This job sounds amazing.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it sounds like a stunt to get all of these officers to just hang out in Ibiza on their own.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s 21 Jump Street goes to Ibiza. Like, is this a new film?


Gideon Resnick: It might be. It might be.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’d watch!


Gideon Resnick: I’d watch as well. And those are the headlines. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, appraise your Japanese whiskey, and tell your friends to listen.


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just Ibiza party clues, like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And enjoy your plate of douchebag rice!


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, God.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. You shouldn’t pay more than $72 for it because you shouldn’t pay for it at all, you know. And you can’t.


Priyanka Aribindi: You can’t, cause it’s gone. It’s not Vietnamese.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah exactly. We told you what the deal was and it’s your fault.


What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lance. Sonia Htoon and Jazzi Marine are our associate producers, and Kelly Sadikun is our intern. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.