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President Barack Obama confers with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough as he talks on the phone in the Oval Office, Feb. 6, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
'No, not that guy. I wouldn't trust him with a sharp fork.'
One person in the president's cabinet will have the honor of not having to go to the State of the Union speech tonight. In fact, they won't be allowed to. It's part of the Cold War-era practice of making sure at least one person in the official line of succession (not secession, put yer flag down Rick Perry) survives even if something untoward befell every other important person in America gathered for the evening's speech. While getting paid to not go to an event on Capitol Hill sounds like a lovely night, they have a big responsibility.
According to the detailed line of succession, the vice president takes over if something happens to the president, followed by: the Speaker of the House; the president pro tempore of the Senate; the Secretary of State; the Treasury Secretary; the Defense secretary; the Attorney General; and all the way down the line of cabinet officials. The designated survivor takes over if all parties in that line are wiped out. [...]

The designated official is given presidential level security in an undisclosed location for the night. A military aide also accompanies the cabinet official, equipped with a briefcase containing the nuclear war plan.

Last year the plans for global nuclear annihilation were kept beside Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who thankfully for the world did not use this power for evil. But he could have. Oh, he could have.

This year's designated survivor: Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. Hmm, two Energy Secretaries in a row? Suspicious.

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