One of America's greatest traditions is the State of the Union address. It occurs once a year, when the president comes out and lies to us in a generally fixed format.
Thanks to the invention of political blogging, it is now easy for anyone in the world to find out just what is going on with the United States of America. Your information source could be a college student with a Bob Marley poster and a dog-eared copy of The Communist Manifesto who, having just watched V For Vendetta , is now on a righteous/irritating cyber-crusade to vaguely explain how The PATRIOT Act has made the country into a police state. Or, conversely, it could be an NRA member/Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band member who clearly informs you of the evils inherent in Obama's "Health Scare Plan." Whoever it is, you can be rest assured that the wonders of the information age have allowed every citizen with a rudimentary understanding of the Internet (and politics) to give you the 411 on the State of the Union.
Step aside, Thomas Paine.
However, there was an age when mass-media wasn't bombarding us with information; a time when Congress presumably had no fucking clue what was happening in the country (we're glad those days are over). Thus, in regards to the president's role in solving this problem, the U.S. Constitution specified the following:
"He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." - Article II, Section 3
This means that for one day, every social studies instructor gets to be "the cool teacher" by assigning TV for homework.
Make any outfit instantly cooler by changing long sleeves to short sleeves.
The president is known to prepare for this annual address rigorously, dedicating hours of time and effort into producing the most thorough and accurate portrait of the nation's problems, and the potential solutions that can be employed. This process is outlined below.
For those involved, the whole thing represents all the awkward tension and repressed Protestant anger of a Yale/Harvard wedding. After all, you've got the president, the vice president, the House speaker, the Supreme Court Justices, the House of Representatives and the Senate all gathered together under one roof. Of course, this isn't very safe for our national security, so a member of the Presidential Cabinet, named "the designated survivor," is often left behind in protection to preserve the chain of succession should a terrorist attack or major disaster take place. On that point, we have a question: Why the hell has that movie not been made yet?
It is also common for the opposing party to deliver their own "rebuttal speeches" in the wake of the State of the Union -- because let's face it, in this country, even when the president spends an hour telling us all just how strong and badass we are, we just can't bring ourselves to agree.