He might not be Kiefer Sutherland, but Energy Secretary Rick Perry had the role of a lifetime during Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Named as the Designated Survivor, Perry spent Tuesday evening in an undisclosed location during President Donald Trump‘s speech at the Capitol, as a means of protection should the Capitol be attacked with the President, Vice President and Speaker of the House all inside.

The practice of picking a Designated Survivor during the State of the Union started during the Cold War, amidst American fears of a Soviet attack on the Capitol building. Recently, chosen politicians have included Orrin Hatch and Anthony Foxx, and last year’s choice was Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Trump was left with few Designated Survivor options this year, as three of his executive secretaries are serving in acting capacity and therefore ineligible for the position.


But in the end, Trump went with Senator Perry, who previously served as Governor to Texas for 14 years, following President George W. Bush. Twitter users were quick to criticize the choice, noting that Perry’s conservative policies and ardent support of the Trump administration made him a dangerous choice for a possible President. Others took the opportunity to mock the 68-year-old former Governor, particularly for his short-lived stunt on the 23rd season of Dancing With The Stars. 

Meanwhile, for those of us who’ve been binge-watching ABC’s drama based on the phenomenon – the aptly named, Designated Survivor – Perry seemed like quite the letdown compared to our Sutherland expectations. The soon-to-be-cancelled show shows Sutherland as the Secretary of Agriculture who is suddenly thrust into the presidency when he’s named Designated Survivor and a terrorist attack kills everyone in line for the presidency at the State of the Union. When Perry was announced as this year’s survivor, some Twitter users were quick to reference the show, joking that they figured that’s what Perry meant by the announcement, and admitting that the show was the only time they’d heard of this strangely paranoid American tradition.

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