Stalin

LORELAI: Have you seen my bag with the beads and the fur, kind of looks like Stalin’s head?

Joseph Stalin (1878-1953), Georgian revolutionary and Soviet leader who governed the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death. He is occasionally depicted wearing a round furry hat, which might be what Lorelai is thinking of. Of course Lorelai has a Communist bag!

Billy Graham

LORELAI: The Bible said all that, huh? Did it, did it mention me by name? I’m just . . . okay, I’m just kidding. So, um, judging by your Billy Graham impression, I am guessing that you didn’t send me an ice cream maker, so maybe you could just give me Aunt Clarissa’s phone number?

William “Billy” Graham (1918-2018) was a prominent American evangelist and ordained Southern Baptist who became well-known internationally in the 1940s. He held large outdoor rallies and his sermons were broadcast on television from 1947 to 2005, with an entire lifetime audience of over two billion, meaning he preached the Gospel to more people than anyone in history. He repudiated racial segregation, and invited Martin Luther King Jr to preach alongside him at a joint rally in 1957. He became the spiritual adviser for every US president from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama.

John Birch Society

MIA: He [Luke] would help people carry groceries home.
RORY: Oh, how very Boy Scout-y of you.
MIA: For a quarter a bag.
LORELAI: Oh, how very John Birch Society-y of you.

The John Birch Society is an ultraconservative, radical far-right political advocacy group. It was founded in 1958 by businessman Robert W. Welch Jnr (1899-1985), who saw it as a way to oppose Communism. Welch owned the Oxford Candy Company in Brooklyn, so maybe he was just on a major sugar high, but he denounced nearly everyone as a Communist agent, including former presidents Truman and Eisenhower.

The society is named in honour of Baptist missionary John Birch (1918-1945), a US military intelligence captain in China who was killed in a confrontation with Chinese Communist soldiers, ten days after the end of World War II. He was posthumously awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal. Welch saw Birch as the first casualty of the Cold War.

The John Birch Society has had a resurgence with the election of Donald Trump, previously discussed, and its previously fringe views have now become mainstream in right-wing politics.

Donald Trump

LORELAI: It’s the title search for the Rachel property. And guess who owns it.
SOOKIE: Tell me it’s not that bastard Donald Trump.

Donald Trump (born 1946), American businessman, media personality, and politician. He became president of his father’s real estate business in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organisation. Trump expanded the company’s operations to building and renovating skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses. He later started various side ventures, mostly by licensing his name. Trump and his businesses have been involved in more than 4,000 state and federal legal actions, including six bankruptcies. He owned the Miss Universe brand of beauty pageants from 1996 to 2015.

Sookie seems to think of Donald Trump as someone who owns so much real estate, any random property could very well be his. Although it seems comically unlikely he would own a rundown inn in rural Connecticut, he did have a history of buying derelict hotels and doing them up.

It’s probably best that Sookie doesn’t know that Donald Trump will later become the President of the United States (2017-2021).

Nancy Reagan

RORY: You look like Nancy Reagan.

Nancy Reagan (born Anne Robbins, 1921-2016) was an American film actress, and as wife to Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the US, First Lady from 1981 to 1989.

Nancy Reagan had a strong interest in fashion and was often compared to former First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, previously discussed. She favoured the colour red, and wore it so often that fire-engine red became known as “Reagan red”. Her clothing choices did actually resemble Lorelai and Emily’s outfits, and I think they must have been based on Reagan’s signature style.

Sandra Day O’Connor

PARIS: And the connection you make with the Puffs, they last the rest of your life. My cousin Maddie got her internship at the Supreme Court because of Sandra Day O’Connor.
RORY: Sandra Day O’Connor was a Puff?
PARIS: Yes. She was Puffed in 1946, became the president in ’47, and in ’48 she actually moved the group to the very table you sat at today.

Sandra Day O’Connor (born 1930) is a retired attorney and politician who served as the first female associate judge in the US Supreme Court from 1981 to 2006. Prior to that, she was a judge and elected Republican leader in the Arizona Senate, the first female majority leader in a state senate.

O’Connor most often voted with the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court, and was sometimes named as the most powerful woman in the world. She retired in 2005, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009.

In real life, Sandra Day O’Connor could not have gone to Chilton or been a Puff. She was born in Texas and lived on a cattle ranch, attending a private girl’s school in El Paso. For her final year of schooling, she took a 32-mile bus trip every day to attend Stephen F. Austin High School in El Paso (rather like Rory going to Hartford).

In 1946, aged 16, she enrolled at Stanford University, where she gained a BA in Economics in 1950, so she was far beyond the world of high school sororities by that stage. And even at university, she didn’t join a sorority, as they didn’t exist at Stanford at that time.

I think she was just too tough and sensible to ever bother about table allocation in the dining hall, or gossiping about Homecoming. I presume the ludicrousness of the idea is what gave it appeal as a joke.

We also learn that Paris has an older cousin named Maddie who interned at the Supreme Court with the assistance of Sandra Day O’Connor. Maddie must have been a Puff as well, and possibly has a career in law. In real life, membership of sororities and fraternities can gain you coveted positions, although I doubt a high school one would actually be that influential.

John and Jackie

MADELINE: Hey, did you hear that Kimber Slately and Tristin are a major item?

LOUISE: I thought that Kimber and Shawn Asher were this year’s John and Jackie.

Louise is referring to former President John F. Kennedy (1917-63), and his wife Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy, nee Bouvier (1929-94). Good-looking and relatively young when Kennedy took office in 1961, they quickly became a golden couple who were popular in media culture, treated more like movie stars than a political family.

“Putin arms race thing”

RORY (while reading Lorelai’s newspaper veil): Wait, don’t move.
LORELAI: Rory, stop it.
RORY: This Putin arms race thing is really getting crazy.

In June 2001, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the Bush administration’s proposed national missile defence system could trigger an arms race, as he had no option but to upgrade his own country’s nuclear forces. In real life, this was reported on June 18 2001, which is later than it appears to be in this episode, as Lorelai’s June 21 engagement party is still some time away.

Ivana Trump

BOOTSY: So, apparently they shoot a gland from a pig’s head in Ivana Trump’s rear end twice a month to keep her looking young.
LORELAI: Wow, hope she’s not kosher.
BOOTSY: I don’t know, doesn’t say here.

Ivana Trump (born Ivana Zelníčková in 1949) is a Czech-born American businesswoman and former model who was the first wife of Donald Trump, now the US president. They were married in 1977 and divorced in 1992, and he was her second husband. She has married twice more.

After her divorce from Trump, Ivana began selling her own line of clothing, jewellery, and beauty products through home shopping channels, wrote several novels and a self-help book on surviving divorce, had her own advice column, and bought up interests in Croatian media.

The story about pig’s gland being injected into her butt every two weeks seems to be fictional, but in line with the ideas of what silly, vain, and very wealthy socialites might get up to. Ivana Trump is not Jewish, and therefore not kosher.

The reference to the much-married Ivana may be a hint to Lorelai that marriage does not always last.

This is our introduction to a new character, the news vendor Bootsy (Brian Tarantina). We never learn Bootsy’s real name, or why he was given the nickname Bootsy. The name might remind you of singer William “Bootsy” Collins from Bootsy’s Rubber Band; in his case, his mother nicknamed him Bootsy because “he looked like a Bootsy”.