Chris Wallace Calls Mayor Pete A “Nerd” On Camera

( CNN host Chris Wallace needled Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for enthusiastically geeking out about traffic jams, calling him a nerd.

Buttigieg, Sopranos actor Michael Imperioli, and media tycoon Byron Allen are all featured in the most recent episodes of Wallace’s HBO Max series “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace.”

Wallace poked fun at Secretary Pete’s response to the question of whether he has “studied traffic.”

“The reason I ask this,” Wallace explained, “is how many times have you driven along a road and there’s suddenly a backup, and you’re crawling along for 10 or 15 minutes, and then it starts to move, and then it moves faster? And there’s no obvious thing. There was no accident. He thinks to himself, “why was that backup there?”

“I assume there’s got to be a science to traffic,” Wallace mused.

Buttigieg said, “there’s an entire science to this. And we have a lot of research partners, we have our own research institution, the Volpe Institute, which is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it’s really interesting. I could geek out on this for a couple of hours, if we had time.”

Wallace laughed and said, “Please don’t. That would be a bad traffic jam.”

Buttigieg said a lot of it is just human nature, human psychology. If even one person gets distracted, that can cascade through if we pause and look at something odd or an accident or something. When we pass it by, the way we behave behind the wheel as human beings is not exactly orderly and predictable.

He said part of what they try to do is make traffic more orderly and predictable. That’s what traffic lights do. That’s what speed limits do. But one of the challenges they have is there are more and more people in the country and more and more people on the road. “That’s how to be smarter about that. For example, it turns out that sometimes when, just when you got a lot of traffic on a roadway, and you just add a lane or two, all you get is more traffic, because it actually makes more people want to drive on that road. And then you’re right back where you were.”

He said they’re trying to be smarter as a country about when you add to the capacity. Sometimes you have a situation where you can’t pave your way out of the problem. And the real answer is better transit, more alternatives, or a better design grid.

“These are the kinds of things that I love sinking my teeth into because we have the tools to do something about it with and, frankly, even the existing infrastructure we have, we’re not using it as intelligently as we could be.”

“You’re kind of a nerd aren’t you?” Wallace asked,

Buttigieg said, “ I love this stuff. I am yeah. I mean, look so many kids, I think for a reason that I can’t quite explain from early childhood get just fascinated with anything related to transportation, right? Trucks, cars, planes, trains, boats, all of that. I mean, you know, half the kids books we have at home are about these kinds of things. So there’s something I think very human about, about taking an interest in this. And then professionally, I’m fascinated by it also, because I see how much of a difference it makes in people’s lives the jobs associated with construction, transportation, but also just the fact that the less time you spend worrying about transportation, the more time you get to spend on other things in your life that matter to you. The more you get to be with your kids, the more you get to be productive at work.”