2011: OMG, is SOTU just too boring? The CW Network is airing a new episode of the teen-cheerleader drama “Hellcats.” 2010: First, the rabid fans of ABC’s “Lost” worried that they would have to skip the prez for their favorite band of castaways. Then “American Idol” looked as if it might compete with SOTU. In the end, the White House rescheduled, avoiding “Lost”; “AI” got bumped. From the archives: Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) reportedly has stayed home for every SOTU since he came to Congress in 1974, preferring to watch it on TV (hey, his seat is probably comfier and the dress code way less strict). He said he planned to attend this year for the first time.
2011: 9.1 percent 2010: 9.7 percent From the archives: The unemployment rate was an enviable 1.2 percent in 1944, when President Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress.
2011: “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in salt water. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.” Ba-dum-bum. 2010: Obama yuks that the bank bailout bill was “about as popular as a root canal.” From the archives: In 1986, President Ronald Reagan appeals to “America’s younger generation” by quoting from the flick “Back to the Future”: “Where we are going, we don’t need roads.” Well played, Mr. President.
2011: Second fiddle? New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie turned down the honor of giving the GOP’s take. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) filled in. 2010: None. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s response was mercifully gaffe-free. From the archives: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s performance in 2009 got rotten tomatoes on delivery (comparisons to Howdy Doody abounded) and substance (really, volcano monitoring?).
Notable topic not mentioned:
2011: Gun control 2010: Guantánamo Bay From the archives: In 2002, President George W. Bush didn’t say one word that had been on everyone else’s lips: “Enron.”
“Designated Survivor” Cabinet member staying home: 2011: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar 2010: Shaun Donovan, secretary of Housing and Urban Development From the archives: Until 1913, all Cabinet members stayed home, as did everyone else; that was the first year a president gave the address orally. President Woodrow Wilson probably had no idea what he had wrought.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.