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Do Americans Care About the 'Fiscal Cliff'?

If CNBC had an official drinking game, the phrase "fiscal cliff" would put even the most responsible drinker in a bad way … like, in 20 minutes.

Colin Anderson | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

However, do most Americans know what the fiscal cliff is? Some of us have a vague inkling that if both parties don't come together on some sort of package to cut the deficit, something bad happens Jan. 1. Something very, very bad. (Read More: What Is the 'Fiscal Cliff?')

Still, we are a busy people, and not everyone in America is obsessing over whether talks between the White House and congressional leaders are inching closer to avoiding the fiscal cliff. Or "the fiscal clip" as one woman thought it was called.

I interviewed her this week in San Francisco, a city 3,000 miles from Washington and a world away from the capitol. Maybe a planet away.

I was in the City by the Bay interviewing small business owners for special coverage CNBC will air next week from important congressional districts around the country.

This is Nancy Pelosi country, and it has held up well in the economic downturn. Unemployment stands at 6.8 percent, a full point lower than the national average and well below the overall rate in California. (Read More: Who Gets Hurt the Most if US Goes Off 'Fiscal Cliff?')

Fisherman's Wharf seemed a good place to ask locals and tourists about the fiscal cliff. Specifically, I asked them what it is, exactly.

Take heart. As the video shows, a lot of people know that economic Armageddon is at hand. One guy even knows more about it than I do. Most, however, had no idea, though they knew a whole lot about the Bears-49ers game Monday night.

Maybe that's a good thing.

—By CNBC's Jane Wells
@janewells

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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