Biden busts out the whiteboard to give lawmakers a history lesson

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
Yahoo News

Ever wonder what it would be like to have Joe Biden as your history teacher?

A new video posted to YouTube by the White House on Wednesday features the vice president in front of a whiteboard giving viewers a lesson on America's infrastructure — specifically, the country's crumbling roads and bridges.

"The first national road was built in the early 1800s," Biden's lesson began. "In 1808, there was a guy named DeWitt Clinton who was the governor of New York. He said, 'I'm going to build a thing called the Erie Canal.' He built it from New York all the way up to Buffalo."

"The project," Biden said, "generated hundreds of millions of dollars in investments over time all along that route.

"Then along came 1863 in the middle of the Civil War when a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, knew America had to be united, and that was the way to do it: a transcontinental railroad," said Biden, who majored in history and political science at the University of Delaware. "It was the most extensive connection [project] in American history."

The 71-year-old vice president then shifted to the current state of America's roadways.

"Look at where we are right now. There are 52 million tons worth of freight that goes every day across America," Biden said, clicking open his dry-erase marker. "That's $46 billion per day. And that's only gonna grow -- but you need an infrastructure. You need highways, bridges, connections in order to be able for this commerce to be able to flow."

The United States, Biden said, is 28th in the world in terms of infrastructure investment.

"I'll bet all of you thought America was No. 1," he said.

The video is part of the Obama administration's push to fix America's roads with private funding, bypassing congressional gridlock.

Last week at an event in Delaware — where Biden grew up and served as a senator — President Obama announced the Build America Investment Initiative, which will be run by committee within the Department of Transportation.

"First-class infrastructure attracts investment and it creates first-class jobs," Obama said in Wilmington, Delaware, standing in front of the recently closed I-495 bridge, before giving his own Biden-like history lesson.

"Infrastructure should not be a partisan issue," the president said. "If you think about it, it was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the interstate highway system. Lincoln built the transcontinental railroad. Both parties historically have understood that investing in this country for the long run pays off. When we invest in infrastructure we’re making sure that the economy is growing — not just for the next five years, but for another century. That's what right now Republicans in Congress don't seem to be focused on. But until they do get focused on it, I’m going to do whatever I can to create jobs rebuilding America on my own."