In Videos: Barack Obama Doesn't Know What a Half-Smoke Is

"He hasn't earned it!" —Bill Cosby, on Barack Obama's eat-free pass at Ben's Chili Bowl


Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C.—ever heard of it? It's famous for its half-smokes, a D.C.-area regional specialty.

As you may remember, Ben's updated its "Who Eats Free at Ben's Chili Bowl" list to include the Obama family. Prior to that, the sole name on that list was Bill Cosby.

Well, ol' Cosby was on Meet the Press this morning, along with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Representative Maxine Waters (D-Cal.). The show's host, David Gregory, showed the men a clip of Obama at Ben's yesterday, asking "What's a half-smoke?"

This set Cosby and Fenty on a jag, good-naturedly ribbing each other—and Barack Obama—about Ben's and half-smokes, with Cosby at one point saying that Obama hasn't earned the right to be on that list—Michelle Obama and her mother, sure, but not the president-elect. The video and transcript of relevant material appears after the jump. The good stuff starts at 45:35 in.

(Do you not know what a half-smoke is? We answer that question here.)

Barack Obama Doesn't Know What a Half-Smoke Is [at 45:35 in]

'What's a Half-Smoke': The Transcript

Mr. Gregory: I, I want--just yesterday, here at the famous Ben's Chili Bowl--ever heard of it?

Mr. Cosby: Oh, boy.

Mayor Fenty: Yeah.

Mr. Gregory: Who was there, but our mayor with the president-elect. Now, they go inside. Hold on, hold on.

Mr. Cosby: I'm out of here.

Mr. Gregory: No, no, no, no. Bill Cosby...

Mr. Cosby: No, man.

Mr. Gregory: ...listen to what happens inside. The president-elect goes inside and asks this question:

Mr. Gregory: What is a half-smoke? He goes to Ben's Chili Bowl and asks, "What's a half-smoke?" Can you believe that?

Mr. Cosby: I'm taking my vote back.

Mr. Gregory: Well, there's something else you should know.

Mr. Cosby: Well--uh-oh.

Mr. Gregory: There's something else you should know.

Mr. Cosby: You starting stuff, man.

Mr. Gregory: Yeah. Now, wait a second...

Mayor Fenty: This is why...

Mr. Cosby: You don't look like this kind of person.

Mr. Gregory: In Ben's Chili Bowl it says "Who eats for free at Ben's? Bill Cosby and no one else." But during the 2008 race they've changed it: "Who eats for free at Ben's? Bill Cosby and the Obama family." You're not alone.

Mayor Fenty: David, you know, he said backstage that Obama hadn't earned it.

Mr. Cosby: Not only, not only that, Mr. Loose Lips, I am saying also that the only--there are two people, Michelle and his mother-in-law. I don't mind them. But he has not earned it. Got to come a long way, Jack, before you can have...

Mayor Fenty: See, the president's not big enough.

Mr. Cosby: But, but the mayor brought him to try to boost his name and put it on the thing.

Mr. Gregory: Yeah. Unbelievable.

Mr. Cosby: And his name, he's a...

Mayor Fenty: Cosby's upset because I had the first half-smoke at the new baseball stadium, the first Ben's Chili Bowl.

Mr. Cosby: And you raised, you raised the half-smoke and said "I beat Bill Cosby." That's what you said.

Maybe he should have used his BlackBerry to Google "half-smoke" before asking.


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