Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson appeared before the House Financial Services Committee Tuesday for an oversight hearing, during which he confused the housing term “REO,” or real estate owned property, with the baked goods term “Oreo.” During questioning by Rep. Katie Porter, D-C.A., about foreclosure rates, Porter asked about REOs, a term used to describe foreclosed properties owned by a bank or lender, which had Carson, the head of housing of the nation, stumped.
Porter: Do you know what an REO is?
Carson: An Oreo?
Porter: No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O. REO.
Carson: Real estate …
Porter: What’s the O stand for?
Carson: Real estate … e-organization.
E-organization? Come on, man. Let’s not just blindly guess. You’re in the Cabinet.
Carson seemed to sense that maybe answering “Oreo” during a congressional hearing might not play well and tried to get out in front of looking dumb by making an even dumber joke.
At least Oreo, the brand, didn’t try to use the moment of national viral dumbness to inject itself into the “conversation” by saying something clever. Or right, yes, it did do that with its “𝗥𝗘𝗢 stands for ‘𝗥eally 𝗘xcellent 𝗢REO (cookie).’ Everyone knows that” tweet before deleting it shortly after.