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Let Drunk History Tell You the Story of How Mister Rogers Convinced the Senate to Fund PBS Instead of the Vietnam War

We’re coming up on the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which means the internet has been flooded with tributes, and I am not complaining about a single one. This particular tribute, though, is exceptionally joyous.

One of my favorite stories about Fred Rogers is of the time he spoke to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communication, which was in the process of slashing funding to programs like Rogers’ in favor of increasing the budget for the Vietnam War. That’s the story told in the latest episode of Comedy Central’s Drunk History, with Colin Hanks playing Rogers.

Facing the possibility of seeing his funding cut in half, Rogers travelled to Washington to talk to the Senate committee. Rather than talk about budget details, he explained to the committee what it is that he offers to children.

Here’s what he told the Senate committee, as told by comedian Solomon Georgio while drunk:

“This is what we do. We look at kids and go ‘Hey. You are legit a person. And you have an importance in this world. Also, your imagination is a brilliant thing that you have going on in your head and we should develop it in this great, insane way.'”

Rogers then recited the words of a song that he wrote about what to do when you’re mad. “What do you do when you’re mad?” Hanks’ Rogers reads. “Do you wanna punch a wall? Do you wanna rip you mama’s hair out? Do you wanna kick your kid sister int he face? Well, how about you sing this precious little song instead?”

The speech had the intended effect. Sen. John O. Pastore told Rogers (as quoted by drunk Georgio, who clearly has only love and respect for Rogers), “‘I am a rough, hard armadillo of a human man but you gave me goosebumps. You gave me spine chills.’ They were like, ‘I get it, what you do is wonderful. You deserve this $20 million. We were dumb for even bringing you here, Mr. Rogers. […] You are legit the greatest thing that’s ever happened to television. You’re doing such a great job. Kids are the best and you’re the best and never stop.'”

Honestly, that’s not too far off from Pastore’s actual words, as you can see in this video of Rogers’ testimony. A warning though: This version will require tissues.

(image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.