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Act Two: I'd Like To Spank The Academy

For the last 13 years, the University of Montevallo in Alabama has held an event called The Life Raft Debate, where several professors take the stage and each tries to convince the students that his or her discipline—chemistry, say, or communications—is the most essential field of study. But in 2007, a professor named Jon Smith decided that the debate itself needed saving.

Act One: Eat My Shorts

A hedge fund named Magnetar comes up with an elaborate plan to make money. It sponsors the creation of complicated and ultimately toxic financial securities...while at the same time betting against the very securities it helped create. Planet Money's Alex Blumberg teams up with two investigative reporters from ProPublica, Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger, to tell the story.

Act Two: Mr. Hitt Goes To Washington.

Jack Hitt has spent the last two years watching the Obama administration lose the news cycle and war of soundbites to Republicans day after day. Watching the Democrats run away from issues like health care reform and middle class tax cuts, Hitt wonders if there is some secret long-term master plan the Democrats are deploying, or if they're just incompetent.