Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Pete King, my buddy. And Chuck and Kirsten couldn’t join us tonight because they are literally busy voting right now, they will have a budget vote. It should have happened 9 minutes ago, so knowing the Senate, it hasn’t happened yet.
I want to thank Patricia Heaton. Patricia and I do go back a long ways. Because you know what, Patricia Heaton, she is a Hollywood Republican. A Hollywood Republican. That is an oxymoron. Which clearly was the word that Rex Tillerson was searching for.
I just want to say, you all look great, everyone looks just great tonight. We feel right at home. Because this is exactly what our dinner parties in Janesville, Wisconsin look like.
You know this is really our favorite time of the year, just love it, October. We’ve got deer season, the leaves are changing. The beaches are empty, or as Chris Christie calls them, perfect.
I want to promise you though, as I’ve heard a few stories about how the dinner went last year. So I want to put your minds at ease, you can relax about my remarks. I know last year that Donald Trump offended some people. I know his comments, according to critics, went too far. Some said it was unbecoming of a public figure, and they said that his comments were offensive. Well, thank God he’s learned his lesson.
A lot of people, they ask me, you know, a guy from Wisconsin, what’s it like to work with an abrasive New Yorker with a loud mouth? But you know, once you get to know him, Chuck Schumer’s not all that bad.
I know why he’s been so hard on the president, actually— it has nothing to do with ideology. You see, Chuck’s mad that he lost his top donor.
Chuck is 66 years old, which makes him part of the Democratic leadership youth movement.
Now he’s not even here, so I feel like I need to apologize, probably, for that last joke. At one point, I did want to repeal and replace it, but I couldn’t get that to the Senate.
So, when you take a look at where we are this year, just think about it for a second. Think about all that has happened since the last Al Smith dinner. It’s been almost a year ago that on November the 8th, countless shocked Americans broke into tears over the election results. But enough about the press.
The truth is the press absolutely misunderstands and never records the big accomplishments of the White House. Look at all the new jobs that the President has created. Just among the White House staff!
And when you read the papers tomorrow, everyone’s going to report this thing differently. Breitbart is going to lead with, “Ryan slams the president amongst liberal elites.” New York Times is going to report “Ryan defends the president in a state Hillary won.” And the president will tweet, “300,000 at Al Smith Dinner cheer mention of my name.”
You are probably looking at this side and thinking I’ve seen that guy on TV before, I kind of know who he is, but a lot of you don’t know me. So let me just give some basic background facts. Let’s call it, my top 10 facts. And they all must be true because you can find them on the internet.
Fact #1. Like you’ve heard, I’m from Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a fantastic place to visit in the fall. Looking back, someone should have probably told Hillary Clinton that fact. Just saying.
You know, speaking of which, actually, I got a copy of her new book. This thing sums up politics perfectly. She took 8 months, writing 10 hours a day, to explain what happened in 512 pages. The president explained it in a tweet, #I won.
Fact #2. You know, we have primaries in the Republic Party these days. My primary opponent in 2016 was endorsed by Sarah Palin. And I’m really not that mad about it, because Sarah and I actually have a lot in common. We both lost for Vice President, we both debated Joe Biden. And given the current investigations, I, too, can see Russia from the House.
By the way, I do really appreciate these laughs. I usually don’t get laughs like this except when I am actually debating Joe Biden.
Fact #3. All the experts, the pollsters, they all say that my popularity is going down because of my relationship with Donald Trump. Some disapprove of the way I defend the President. Others say I don’t defend him enough. Fortunately, the media understands all of this, and they choose to ask me only questions on policy and issues.
Fact #4. It’s true, I once drove the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, which basically meant that people were constantly laughing at me. It was perfect preparation for being in Congress.
You know what we call the Weinermobile in Wisconsin? A chick magnet. It is!
Fact #5. I am proud member of this church. You know, the Catholic Church actually has a whole lot in common with Washington D.C. Either place, it takes about 7 years for someone to get confirmed.
I really wish Chuck were here at this moment right now.
The only basic difference between a Catholic Mass and a filibuster is that one ends with a sip of wine and the other ends with an entire bottle.
Fact #6. As a practicing Catholic, I believe in miracles. In fact, I’ve actually seen miracles.
In 2015, I saw Joe Biden give a 2-minute speech. And in 2012, and there are 3 witnesses who saw this, I saw Mitt Romney with a hair out of place.
I believe in miracles. Then again, I also believed in Brian Kelly when he became the head coach at Notre Dame.
Last year, Notre Dame Football and Cardinal Tim Dolan, they had a lot in common. Both made thousands of people stand up and say, “Jesus Christ.”
Fact #7. When people ask me if I believe everything I see on Facebook, I answer, “Nyet.”
Here’s one that’s kind of interesting, Fact #8. The fact that you learn when you are speaker. I’m now second in line of succession since Steve Bannon has resigned.
Fact #9. Every morning, I wake up in my office and I scroll Twitter to see which tweets that I’ll have to pretend that I did not see later on.
Fact #10. Every afternoon, former speaker John Boehner calls me up. Not to give advice. Just to laugh.
Actually, it was John Boehner who was the one who tried to convince me to take this job as Speaker. In fact, and this is a true story, like all of the other one’s I’ve told, he even got Cardinal Dolan to call me to encourage me to take this job. God may forgive you, Cardinal, but I will not.
Talk about pulling the ultimate Catholic guilt card.
You may remember this, it got a lot of press at the time, but John retired after he got the Pope to take an official visit and address Congress. It was special moment for all of us as Catholics in Congress, but it was a really special moment for John Boehner. We all know how emotional he gets, and he decided right then and there to hang it up.
So, Cardinal Dolan, my friend, Tim, I need you to hurry up and become the Pope so that I can invite you to Congress and I can get the hell outta there.
Actually, we have some other things in common. In November a few years ago Cardinal Dolan himself ran for office in the 2007 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, but he lost for vice president. So Cardinal, join the club.
It was last January, January 20th, that Cardinal Dolan gave the benediction at President Trump’s inaugural. He recited a prayer from the Book of Wisdom. It’s a book that no one in Washington is familiar with.
Actually, there was just this one kind of awkward moment—when the Cardinal talked about the infallible, almighty Supreme Being, the President stood up and took a bow. Both Presidents actually.
The truth is, no one is infallible, we all make mistakes, we all learn. I personally have learned so much in Congress. For example, I learned that tweeting after midnight is a really bad idea, whether you’re President Trump or especially Anthony Weiner. Or Ted Cruz for that matter.
You know, at one point, the President actually insulted me. I know that sounds kind of surprising. He described me as a Boy Scout who is boring to talk to. It didn’t hurt my feelings. What hurt my feelings was when my wife agreed with him.
I got to tell you, I really have learned so much. I learned that in Catholicism, you’re guilty until proven less guilty.
I learned that God is always listening…as is Vladimir Putin.
I learned how D.C. works. I play the good cop. Mitch McConnell plays the bad cop. And Bob Mueller plays the really bad cop.
I learned how to handle insults. Steve Bannon said that I was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation. This is amazing—no one knew Steve believed in science!
And most important thing I’ve learned of all, I am learning that becoming Speaker of the House is a steppingstone…to becoming ex-Speaker of the House.
Just because I am speaker you did not have to invite me and I am so honored you did.
And that is because this is really a magnificent event. People, Republicans and Democrats, citizens and Catholics, have watched this dinner on TV for years. We need an event like this more now than ever.
It is an opportunity for us to come together in support of a truly righteous mission—to bring hope to the neediest children in the Archdiocese of New York.
You know, earlier today, Cardinal Dolan brought me over to The Foundling, where they are just doing incredible work to help underserved families rebuild their lives, to reclaim a greater sense of dignity and hope.
We can achieve so much, and we can achieve so much when we tackle poverty eye to eye, soul to soul, person to person. As Catholics, we call this solidarity and subsidiarity.
We are not yet through the worst hurricane season, so we need to be thinking about other citizens who live beyond these boroughs.
It’s the worst hurricane season in recent memory. An inferno has blackened the homes and hillsides across Northern California. Dozens of people are still hospitalized after the massacre in Las Vegas.
So much has been taken.
I think back a few weeks ago, I went down to Houston, and I was on my way to a shelter. The sun was barely up, it was the crack of dawn, and it was already as humid as can be. And you could almost feel the exhaustion in the air.
But we get there, and I got to tell you, this shelter was alive. It was full of life, and hope, and prayer. Thirty-eight counties in Texas, people just out of their homes. And were volunteers from seemingly everywhere, people from the South, people from the Midwest, people from the Northeast.
People were telling me how they just felt they had to be there, that they didn’t care how long it took. They would stay and do whatever was needed. They just got up and came. It was truly something.
So yes, much has been taken, but not our spirit. Not our nation’s resilience. Not our faith.
So in these moments when people are suddenly isolated and separated from everything they know, it is those unspoken bonds between us, it is that common humanity, which brings us together and lifts us up.
A lot of people are hurting tonight. Please keep them in your prayers. May they, in the fullness of time, find comfort and renewal.
Thank you for having me. God bless you and your families, this archdiocese. And God bless the United States of America.