Meghan McCain: A Grand Old Puzzle Party

May 31, 2012
Originally published on September 4, 2014 2:30 pm

Meghan McCain approaches her life as a political darling with a sense of humor that's anything but conservative. The self-proclaimed "black sheep of the Republican Party" joins Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg for a chat about family puzzle nights with her famous father, U.S. Senator John McCain, and who among them is most competitive. She also gives us the lowdown on her new book--America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom--written alongside comedian Michael Ian Black. Outspoken, gregarious, and irreverent, McCain is prolific, both on her blog,, and on Twitter. So we thought she'd be the perfect candidate for this week's Ask Me Another Challenge, in which she must identify other celebrities by their most famous--and infamous--tweets.

About Meghan McCain

As the daughter of U.S. Senator John McCain, Meghan McCain was propelled into the national spotlight at an early age. Her involvement in everything from community events to national conventions have McCain unparalleled exposure to American politics, and through it, the opportunity to hear voters debate the most complex issues first-hand from the campaign trail. The result? Her unique perspective and bold approach has not only galvanized a younger generation of Republicans, but launched a national movement to redefine Republican stereotypes and values.

Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, McCain graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Art History. With ambitions to pursue a career in music journalism, she completed internships at Newsweek and Saturday Night Live before joining her father's 2008 presidential campaign.

To give Americans a real sense of life behind-the- scenes on the campaign trail, McCain launched, which has been recognized with two distinguished awards in politics: The Golden Dot Award for Best Blog, and two Pollie Awards from the Association of Political and Public Affairs Professionals. As a columnist for The Daily Beast and MSNBC contributor, Meghan often responds to her own party's attacks, but also discusses America's most challenging issues with a clear objective: to help the Republican Party expand and survive.

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Welcome back to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of mind games, trivia and musical interludes. I'm your host, Ophira Eisenberg, and joining me is this week's mystery guest, self-described black sheep of the Republican party, the one and only Meghan McCain!



EISENBERG: Welcome. Welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

EISENBERG: So Meghan, you were born in a family of politics, politicians. Your grandfather, great-grandfather, admirals. Your father obviously senator and presidential candidate nominee. Where do you fit in this mix?

MCCAIN: I don't know. No place. I'm - I am such a black sheep. I always call myself like the mutation in like the original Republican design, and as I get older I thought they would accept me more and it just gets like more and more everyone's like yeah, she's sort of a Republican.

EISENBERG: But you know, I follow you on "Twitter."

MCCAIN: I follow you on "Twitter."

EISENBERG: Oh thanks for that.

MCCAIN: Love "Twitter."

EISENBERG: In addition to the fact that you have, you know, thrown out some beauty stuff that I've been like I'm totally buying that hat, getting that nail polish. But I also, you know, you tweet about all kinds of stuff and one that caught my eye is that you wrote I will modernize the Republican party if it kills me.

MCCAIN: Yeah, I did an interview with Playboy magazine which got a lot of attention. Everyone's like you don't take your life seriously, and I was like I will talk to Satan himself if it will get a new audience looking at the Republican party in a different way. So I'm trying to modernize it but I feel like I'm alone.

EISENBERG: Right. But you're going to get, I mean you have a lot of attention because you're doing so many things. You do obviously blogging, tons of social media stuff, you're out there all the time and you have a new book.


EISENBERG: Which has an amazing name that I'm so thankful I can say on air.

MCCAIN: I was like can you say it on air?

EISENBERG: I am allowed to say it on air. It's called "America, You Sexy Bitch".


EISENBERG: And I love the premise of the book.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

EISENBERG: You go on a cross-country tour with comedian Michael Ian Black.

MCCAIN: Yeah, the great Michael Ian Black from "The State," yes, with him.

EISENBERG: So what, like what is this book about?

MCCAIN: I was the guest on a pilot he did for E, the talk show that didn't get picked up, and I was on air and I think he thought I was going to be kind of like submissive to him or something, and I was like giving it right back to him. I was like who are you? What is this? And he was on "Twitter" at like four in the morning and tweeted me, do you want to write a book together? And I was like of course I want to write a book together.

And we came up with the idea of going on a road trip together all across America and we interviewed every kind of person you can imagine: strippers, Muslims, extreme Conservatives, extreme Liberals, cannabis supporters. Like Ron Paul supporters, everything in between, and it was so much fun.

EISENBERG: I love the list of strippers, Muslims; somehow that is very funny. Those are very funny to me. And so what is sexy about this nation?

MCCAIN: America is the sexiest country in the world just because you can be anything you want here, you know. You can do anything you want and I love America, and Michael sort of loves America, and now I got him like I'm like live for your time, like live for your time. Now he's more into it but, you know, he's Mr. Hipster Liberal, so he like celebrates quietly.

EISENBERG: Celebrates quietly. That's the hipster way?



MCCAIN: But it's funny because we didn't know each other like at all before we started. We like barely knew each other and after we signed the book deal, because we sold it like really quickly and we went on the road and I was like I don't know you, and I hope you're not a psycho weirdo. And we actually we didn't get along and we got in a big fight, and now we're like super close friends. So it's awesome.

EISENBERG: That's, that's usually how it goes. That is usually how it goes. And so you're, you're different sides of the spectrum too. So you're conversing the whole time about all these different issues.

MCCAIN: Yeah, I'm explaining to my father like what "The State" is, which is the comedy show he was on.

EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah.

MCCAIN: He did not understand. I was like this comedy show from the 90s that has this cult following online and David Wayne who you still don't know who that is, and I was like impossible, my father still doesn't really know who Michael Ian Black is, like at all.

EISENBERG: But he was like yay. Does your father follow you on Twitter?

MCCAIN: He, yes he does, but I wish he wouldn't sometimes.




JONATHAN COULTON: Does he ever call you up and like tone it down Meghan, take it down a notch?

MCCAIN: He used to get really upset over things and now if he's upset about something he won't call me for like a week, and then we won't talk about it. So like if I say something in an interview I think he's just like I have no control over you and you're 27 and whatever. But his staff goes like really crazy; they get very upset.

EISENBERG: Do they write you strong-worded emails?

MCCAIN: They're just like why can't you be more like Chelsea Clinton please?


EISENBERG: You're like because we already have one. OK, so obviously you grew up in a political family. Did you guys play games?

MCCAIN: We always played games.



EISENBERG: What kind of games?

MCCAIN: We used to play "Monopoly" and "Jenga" a lot, and "Trivial Pursuit."

EISENBERG: Yeah? I love "Jenga" by the way.

MCCAIN: I love "Jenga."

EISENBERG: "Monopoly" for me, because I'm the youngest of a big family, so I would just get creamed all the time. I used to play it alone. Every played "Monopoly" alone? It's a lonely game.

MCCAIN: My brothers used to fight over who could be the battleship. Like even at a young age, like there's not enough military stuff in our family, they would like fight over being a battleship.

EISENBERG: Who ended up being the shoe? That's really what it comes down to.

MCCAIN: The shoe sucks, I know.

EISENBERG: The shoe does suck.

MCCAIN: I just wanted to be the hat. That's what I remember.

EISENBERG: I know, the hat's very, it's very fashionable. So, and so... I, you know, immediately when you sat down, of course I wanted to compliment your shoes, I wanted to compliment how you look.

MCCAIN: Thanks everyone. They're Steve Madden, they were like 60 bucks.

EISENBERG: But I love how you do it, because I do that all the time. I'm like oh you can buy them too for $30. No, but...

MCCAIN: Well shoes are so fricking expensive now. I went shoe shopping, $900, who can afford that? Like seriously.

EISENBERG: I think you.


MCCAIN: Oh, touche, touche.

EISENBERG: But you know, I, I declined at the beginning of the interview being like Meghan you look beautiful, because I am so conscious of the fact that any time a woman is described in an interview or whatever, the first focus is on looks, right. It's all about looks, how do you look, what they're wearing, and I know that you've had to deal with that in all course of manner especially with journalists and people on the news. But I love the fact that you've turned into something positive, really owned this, right.

MCCAIN: Thanks.

EISENBERG: You've like really made it a completely different playing field. Is that something you did consciously or is that just who you are to begin with?

MCCAIN: When, I mean I'm sure you're talking about all the weird stuff, the media's like obsessed with my weight fluctuations, which is the worst part about being a woman in the media. But I feel like if women would stop going to trainers and dieting themselves into oblivion and lying about it, like it would help everybody else.



MCCAIN: Just, I mean I love people that work out. I know people in the media that, you know, not to knock other women because there is a lot of pressure, that just work out six days a week for two hours and they're on super diets and whatever. I just can't live like that and I feel like I shouldn't have to diet to talk about politics.

EISENBERG: Absolutely not, no exactly, yeah. Yeah, a lot of people... exactly.

MCCAIN: And if you own it - I mean I just kind of took ownership of it and I started - people would like ask me what size I am and I just started telling them I'm a ten, and like literally people would just like, like it empowered other women, so.

EISENBERG: That is the reason I do radio.


MCCAIN: You're gorgeous. Like come on...

EISENBERG: Ah, you have to say that. Meghan, so here at ASK ME ANOTHER we write games specifically for our mystery guest. So we have a feeling that we put together a pretty good game for you. It's...

MCCAIN: I'm very nervous.

EISENBERG: No, don't be nervous.

MCCAIN: I'm not great at, OK.

EISENBERG: Because it's based on "Twitter."


EISENBERG: And you're a good tweeter.

MCCAIN: I love "Twitter."

EISENBERG: Big on social media, so I feel like this is totally up your alley, all right? So I have to ask you Meghan McCain, are you up for an ASK ME ANOTHER CHALLENGE?

MCCAIN: Yes I am.

EISENBERG: All right, come on.


EISENBERG: Give her a hand, Meghan McCain.

So tonight, you are going to be playing for someone in the audience. So I'm going to bring up our contestant. It is Margaret Bortner.


EISENBERG: Where are you Margaret? Come on up. Hi, Margaret Meghan, Meghan Margaret.

MARGARET BORTNER: Nice to meet you.

EISENBERG: Margaret, let's find out a little bit about you. You work for MTV.

BORTNER: I do, yes.

EISENBERG: What is your favorite show on MTV?

BORTNER: Well my favorite show is probably "Singled Out," but actually now "Teen Wolf" is on and "Teen Wolf" is pretty cool.

EISENBERG: "Teen Wolf." And you're a karaoke nut?

BORTNER: I like one particular song for karaoke.

EISENBERG: What's your song?

BORTNER: "Ice Ice Baby."


EISENBERG: That is a great song.


EISENBERG: OK. "Ice Ice Baby." Do you want to sing a couple of moments of "Ice Ice Baby?" No, I would never do that to you. Oh, you want to do it?

COULTON: Yes, come on.

EISENBERG: Do it. Come on Margaret.

COULTON: A little bit. A little bit.

BORTNER: (Rapping) All right. Collaborate and listen, Ice is back my brand new invention, something grabs a-hold of me tightly, flow like a hokoon daily and nightly.

EISENBERG: All right.


EISENBERG: I didn't mean too put you in the spot but it totally paid off. OK, so in the sprit of bipartisan puzzle politics, we're going to allow you to both reach across the aisle and play together. So depending on how things all work out, you guys will both get prizes. So it's very exciting.

Meghan, you have obviously really embraced social media as a way to get your message across, but as you know, "Twitter" can be a minefield of misinterpreted post feuds.


EISENBERG: And scandalous photos. So this game is about famous Twitterers and their tweets.


EISENBERG: So John Chaneski, give him a hand, he is back.

JOHN CHANESKI: Hi, I'm back.

EISENBERG: John Chaneski.


EISENBERG: He will be helping bring these tweets to life. Are you ready?


EISENBERG: OK, excellent. After making a very public verbal gaff, this folksy politician tweeted...

CHANESKI: Refudiate, misunderestimate, wee-wee'd up; English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it.

MCCAIN: I know that one.

BORTNER: I know that one.

EISENBERG: All right Meghan.

MCCAIN: Sarah Palin.

EISENBERG: Sarah Palin.



EISENBERG: This often controversial rapper has over 7 million "Twitter" followers thanks to bizarre hilarious tweets such as this.

CHANESKI: I specifically ordered Persian rugs with cherub imagery. What do I have to do to get a simple Persian rug with cherub imagery? Uuugh!

MCCAIN: Kanye West.

EISENBERG: Kanye West is correct.


MCCAIN: Yeah, I had to unfollow him. It was just too much. He just tweets about fur pillows and I was like I think I'm done with this.

EISENBERG: It's just all pillows and rugs; that's his entire life, pillows, duvets and rugs.

This banjo-playing funny man took time from jury duty to rattle off a few tweets.

CHANESKI: Defendant looks like a murderer. Guilty! Waiting for opening remarks.

MCCAIN: Steve Martin.

EISENBERG: Steve Martin is correct.


EISENBERG: He's a loud and crazy tweeter. In 2012 this silver-haired CNN anchor - hm, who could it be? - got pulled in to a feud with a Sri Lankan rapper, MIA, over several tweets he tweeted.

CHANESKI: MIA, you are mistaken. I never called you a terrorist. I don't even know who you are other than a lady who sang at the Super Bowl. By the way, I defended your finger-pointing at the Super Bowl so check your facts. I have no idea what you're tweeting about.

MCCAIN: The Coop.



EISENBERG: Anderson Cooper, The Coop. I enjoy the Coop. And in possibly the most infamous tweet ever, after he claimed that his "Twitter" account was broken into... this person posted:

CHANESKI: TiVo shot. "Facebook" hacked. Is my blender going to attack me next?

MCCAIN: Anthony Weiner.


EISENBERG: Anthony Weiner.


MCCAIN: That was my favorite scandal. It still is my favorite political scandal ever.

EISENBERG: He posted photos of his...

CHANESKI: Yes, we're not, yeah.

EISENBERG: That was the best part. All right. Guess what? You guys won. Margaret...


EISENBERG: So Margaret, let me tell you what you won. We were thinking long and hard and we realize that you don't have a "Twitter" account. So we've created one for you.


EISENBERG: It is at askmemargaret and everyone in the audience after the show has to immediately follow Margaret to make her prize come alive.

CHANESKI: Askmemargaret.

EISENBERG: You also get limited edition, one of a kind, there's actually two of a kind because we have two, ASK ME ANOTHER Rubik's Cubes. There you go. Another hand for Margaret.


EISENBERG: And thank you so much Meghan McCain. You were amazing. Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.