496: Secretary: Part 3

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Secretary: Part 3
He actually installed each piece in a different car in the lot, then built a new car in the spot from the displaced pieces.  It's a confusing maneuver known as the auto-troll shuffle.
Title text: He actually installed each piece in a different car in the lot, then built a new car in the spot from the displaced pieces. It's a confusing maneuver known as the auto-troll shuffle.


When a person has been appointed to a position by the President, they must first go through a confirmation hearing in front of the Senate, the upper house of Congress where they find if the person is qualified to be in the position they have been appointed to. Of course, Black Hat is not the cleanest of characters, so Congress has a lot of reservations about his résumé.

  • Starbucks is an American "innovation," where coffee simply wasn't made fast enough. So the whole process was streamlined, and now the world is "better" for it.
    • He hasn't yet, but in 562: Parking Black Hat will cut someone's car in half to make it fit in a single space. Not quite as dramatic as completely disassembling a car and, as the title text says, putting a single piece in another car parked in the lot, and building a car out of the displaced parts, which could almost be considered subtle; but, it is quite dramatic.
  • Charles M. Schulz drew a comic called Peanuts. One of the recurring characters was Snoopy who would often use his doghouse as an imaginary Sopwith Camel in many battles with The Red Baron who piloted a Red Fokker Triplane.
  • 9/11 Truthers believe that the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001 (thus 9/11) was a conspiracy theory purported by the US Government as a cover up. In the comic, Black Hat appears to be mixing 9/11 truthers with Moon landing conspiracy theorists who believe that NASA never put a man on the moon.
  • Radio Shack is a chain of consumer electronics shops that sold parts to build electronics with: resistors, transistors, etc. Apparently Black Hat managed to build a death ray from the parts there and accidentally vaporized a customer.
  • Microsoft is the company that makes Windows. Steve Ballmer is the CEO of Microsoft. Windows Vista was the operating system that came between Windows XP and Windows 7, and is considered by most to be a failure.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the second female justice on the Supreme Court, appointed by President Clinton. The relevance here is that during her own confirmation hearings, she refused to answer many questions about her personal views, frustrating many Senators (nevertheless, she was confirmed, 96-3). John Roberts, the current Chief Justice, was similarly evasive in his hearings, citing the "Ginsburg Precedent."
  • Black Hat stole a nuclear submarine in xkcd 405: Journal 3 to get his hat back from Danish.
  • "Pleading the fifth" is to invoke the Fifth Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights. Specifically, when someone pleads the fifth, they mean that they cannot be compelled to give testimony against themselves. That is, they do not have to say anything that could be taken as an admission of guilt. The third amendment states that no homeowner has to keep troops of the United States Army in their house against their will. The only sensible time to plead the third would be when a member of the military knocks on the door and tries to gain entry, which is not the middle of a congressional hearing.

All comics in the Secretary series:


[The confirmation hearings begin...]
Senator: It appears you have quite an arrest record.
Senator: Is it true you completely disassembled someone's car outside a Starbucks?
Hat Guy: It was parked across two spaces.
Senator: You stole a red Fokker triplane and strafed the snoopy float at the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade?
Hat Guy: Got three mimes, too.
Senator: You disrupted a 9/11 truth meeting, insisting the Twin Towers never actually collapsed?
Hat Guy: I have evidence! Don't trust the media! Wake up, sheeple!
Senator: You were fired from Radio Shack after you built a death ray and vaporized a customer?
Hat Guy: I was just testing it! Figures that'd be the one day there was a shopper in the aisle.
Senator: And you were thrown out of Microsoft headquarters for... trying to feed a squirrel through a fax machine?
Hat Guy: I forgot about that! it was part of an argument with Steve Ballmer about Vista. Which I won, by the way.
[Senators look down at their notes]
Senator: This is the worst history of vandalism, gleeful mayhem, and general recalcitrance we've seen in a nominee since Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Senator: And this--you stole a nuclear submarine?
Hat Guy: I plead the third.
Senator: You mean the fifth?
Hat Guy: No, the third.
Senator: You refuse to quarter troops in your house?
Hat Guy: I have few principles, but I stick to them.
[Aboard Ron Paul's blimp]
Pilot: We're nearing Washington, sir.
Wait... There's something ahead on the sensors.
Pilot: It's a balloon.
Ron Paul: ...Oh, no.

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Could "Pleading the 3rd" be a form of the Chewbacca defense? --B. P. (talk) 22:55, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

I did some research on Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her confirmation hearing, but couldn't quite see why she has a criminal record similar to Black Hat's - can anybody help there? Bobidou23 (talk) 20:03, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

Maybe because people assume that if you are rectinent,you are probably hiding something? 15:47, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

Black hat is right. RadioShack never gets many visitors to the electronics parts aisles. Xyz (talk) 12:54, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Why would US submariners been on the sub he stole? I got the impression it was a Russian submarine. 22:21, 8 January 2014 (UTC)

Or it was a US sub and he "parked" it in Russian territory, something the Russion goverment wouldn't be fond of either. But yeah I thought it was a Russian sub as well. Tharkon (talk) 15:50, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

Is the auto-troll shuffle a reference to something? Seanybabes (talk) 02:57, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

I got the impression that it was in reference to the "Kansas City shuffle" from the movie "Lucky Number Sleven". It was the first move in a very complicated revenge scheme. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I went in and cleaned up the submarine explainations. It seems like they were put there by someone who hadn't actually read Journal 3. Reywas (talk) 20:24, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

I love the 'citation needed' on the "It's unclear how feeding a squirrel through a fax machine can help win an argument. Whoever did that should be promoted. :) --JayRulesXKCD what's up? 12:40, 6 January 2017 (UTC)

I wonder if he chose to plead the third because he stole the submarine in Secretary 3 and it was seen in Journal 3... 03:29, 12 March 2017 (UTC)