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Why Are Americans Fat? And Other G-20 Questions

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Why Are Americans Fat? And Other G-20 Questions

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Why Are Americans Fat? And Other G-20 Questions

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GUY RAZ, host:

Leaders from the around the world are jetting into this country for a fateful week on the international stage.

Wednesday in New York, President Obama addresses the U.N. General Assembly for the first time. The next day, leaders from 20 of the world's biggest economies, the G-20, begin their summit in Pittsburgh, and that city couldn't be more excited.

Mr. BILL CRAWFORD (Comedian): I guess everybody is getting their Steeler jerseys dry-cleaned, and they're watering their fake flowers and ironing their terrible towels.

RAZ: That's Bill Crawford. He's a comedian born and raised in the Steel City.

Mr. CRAWFORD: Most of the people that live in Pittsburgh really don't even know what the G-20 is. They just - it's just really another notch in our belt, you know? It's something else for us to brag about. They're like: Dude, first we won the Super Bowl, then we won the Stanley Cup. Now we got the G-20. I don't even know what it is, but it's awesome. And then like, next up, I think we're getting a world fair. I don't know. I don't even know if they still have that, but I think we're getting it.

RAZ: Jokes aside, Pittsburgh's spent months preparing for the hundreds of dignitaries, journalists and protesters they expect to accommodate. Schools will be closed, people are being asked to work from home, and volunteers have been scrubbing sidewalks and putting up new coats of paint.

Mr. CRAWFORD: And they're doing a good job of redding(ph) up the city, which is Pittsburgh terminology for cleaning up the city.

RAZ: Gail Shrott has been training another group of volunteers. Their job: to answer questions from the international visitors, questions about how to get around and where to eat and - even peculiarities of American culture.

Ms. GAIL SHROTT (Executive Director, Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors): For example, if you look at what media we send abroad, it's pretty violent, and they may be asking us: Is it true that every American has a gun?

RAZ: And how would you answer that?

Ms. SHROTT: That we don't. That a percentage of adults do have guns, but that doesn't mean that every single American carries one.

RAZ: So what would comedian Bill Crawford say to those questioners?

Mr. CRAWFORD: Don't worry about who has a gun, OK? Worry about fixing the meltdown in the real estate industry, OK? You don't need to know if we're packing or not. Don't worry about it.

RAZ: There are other questions. Gail Shrott's been compiling a cheat sheet for her volunteers, with suggested answers. You can read some samples at Here's one.

Ms. SHROTT: If visitors look around, they may see that people may be a little bit larger than people in their country, or a large number may be larger. And so we suggest that what our volunteers say is, well, yes, we see that obesity is an issue in the United States.

RAZ: And why is that?

Mr. ALEX BURNELL(ph): Because the Double Stack at Wendy's is a dollar.

RAZ: That's Alex Burnell. He works at the Andy Warhol Museum. It's one of the spots where dignitaries will be gathering this week. One Pittsburgh institution not on the official agenda is the legendary Primanti Brothers sandwiches. The brothers' claim to fame? Well, they put French fries and coleslaw inside the sandwich. Manager Marc Teklinski says Primanti's is stocking up for the summit.

Mr. MARC TEKLINSKI (Manager, Primanti Brothers) On one day, we go from half a ton of potatoes to closer to a ton of potatoes.

RAZ: And Teklinski says he's been swarmed by journalists asking one question.

Mr. TEKLINSKI: Why Pittsburgh? That's the question that the journalists ask, is why Pittsburgh - because they don't seem to understand it.

RAZ: So why Pittsburgh?

Mr. TEKLINSKI: If you ask me, I would say I don't know. It is an odd choice. People who live here know what a great city it is, and I think people that visit take away a little bit of surprise of what a nice city it is.

RAZ: And it is. Go Steelers.

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