Wednesday night treated America to President Barack Obama's fifth State of the Union address, a speech lined with criticism of our country's immigration system, economic policies, and established plans about how to move forward regarding the Middle East crisis. But towards the tail end of the speech, the Commander-in-Chief spouted a moment of levity, proving himself to be (at the very least) this generation's president when he tossed in a television reference. And no, not a square one, like Bush Sr.'s castigation of The Simpsons — Obama made a Mad Men joke.
"Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work," the president said. "She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It's time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode. This year, let’s all come together — Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street — to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds."
The proclamation invoked a sweeping applause in house and throughout the country — there's nothing like a good new media allusion to drive home a point. But less is more, in this case. We have it on good (fake) authority that Obama had to edit out a few other television references from the first draft of his latest SOTU...
- "Estiven Rodriguez couldn’t speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age nine. But last month, thanks to the support of great teachers and an innovative tutoring program, he led a march of his classmates — through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors — from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he’s going to college this fall. And if you think that's impressive, let me tell you about a simple chemistry teacher who turned himself into a billionaire by pioneering his own crystal meth empire..."
- "Today in America ... a farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history. A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford. A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired but dreaming big dreams for his son. And in tight-knit communities across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from a war that, after 12 long years, is finally coming to an end... just like How I Met Your Mother. Thank God, am I right? Seriously, that show feels like it's been on forever. Come on, Ted, finish the story already."
- "Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren't working at all. I mean, look at Marnie. She can't even hold a job at Ray's coffee shop — and no, Boehner, it doesn't count as a spoiler if it's been 48 hours since the episode aired!"
- "Tonight, I ask every business leader in America to join us and to do the same — because we are stronger when America fields a full team. Even if you get a lousy draft, you can always propose an eight-way trade. That's what Ruxin has taught us."
- "These negotiations will be difficult. They may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away. But these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today. And if Francis Underwood can convince all of those people to keep their mouths shut about that murder... dammit, Boehner, it's been like a year, catch up already!"
- "What Andra and her employees experienced is how it should be for every employer — and every job seeker. So tonight, I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. Like spying, and killing, and planting bugs in Senators' offices in the name of Mother Russia ... you guys get it? That's a The Americans joke. Because I said "Americans." They're spies. You guys watch that show? No? It's pretty good."
- "My fellow Americans, no other country in the world does what we do. On every issue, the world turns to us, not simply because of the size of our economy or our military might — but because of the ideals we stand for, and the burdens we bear to advance them. And that's why we are the most a-mah-zing country in the world ... God, I miss Happy Endings."