Education Secretary Finishes 2nd on ‘Celebrity Jeopardy’

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings came in second in “Celebrity Jeopardy,” right behind Michael McKean, best known for his role as ‘Lenny’ on the television show “Laverne and Shirley” and for the movie “This Is Spinal Tap.”

Somehow, I find that amusing. Granted, McKean is obviously a very bright fellow and “Lenny” was just a role that he played very well. But, still, it’s funny that the EdSec lost to him. At least it wasn’t Squiggy.

UPDATE: AllahPundit had a similar reaction but is less kind, titling his post “U.S. Secretary of Education loses big on Celebrity Jeopardy.” He has video of her performance along with a video clip from “Spinal Tap.”

Mary Katharine Ham observes, correctly, that this was “huge P.R. gamble” on Spellings’ part because “After all, if you win, it’s just a game, and you were expected to win anyway. If you lose, though, it’s a news story for a whole cycle.”

Which reminds me of a bit Bill Murray did about a quarter century ago on “Saturday Night Live” when draft registration was being reinstated and there was a debate about whether to include women. He said it was a swell idea and that, in fact, we should draft only women. That way, if we got into war with the Soviets and lost, we could rub their noses in their getting beaten by “a bunch of women.” Conversely, if we lost, we could just say, “Big deal. So you beat a bunch of women.”

FILED UNDER: Education,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. If you want some real celebrity value, Get Bush 41, Carter and Clinton to do the show.

  2. DC Loser says:

    Just because she’s the Secretary of Education doesn’t mean she has to be the smartest person in the room. It takes a certain type of smart (as in possessing a wide range of interests and lots of reading) to do well on Jeopardy! Spelling is just a politician, and we all know how smart they are 🙂

  3. madmatt says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

  4. Steven Plunk says:

    Who’s off their meds again?

    Jeopardy is a trivia game first and foremost. Judging a person’s overall intelligence by their performance on the show is unfair to say the least.

  5. LorgSkyegon says:

    Michael McKean is an honors graduate of Carnagie Mellon University. He is a very smart man. I would not be sad to lose to him.

  6. LibraryLady says:

    Maybe you didn’t notice but McKean was playing for Multiple Sclerosis. “Squiggy”, or David Lander, has MS (as do I). He is also a pretty sharp guy.

    You do realize that they played characters on the show; not themselves!

  7. Triumph says:

    Just because she’s the Secretary of Education doesn’t mean she has to be the smartest person in the room.

    Yeah, plus remember who nominated her! That guy isn’t the brightest fellow in the world.