We all love the pithy quote, the clever put-down, the witty bon mot, the scintillating turn of phrase. We store them away in our conversational jewelry boxes, waiting for just the right occasion to decorate our speeches with their sparkle. What we often don't realize is that many of these glittering linguistic gems are not the real thing, but mere costume jewelry.
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Boxer Muhammad Ali's refusal to wear a seat belt on a plane earns answering quip from stewardess.
Rep. Dick Armey offered a humorous quip about President Clinton's troubles during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Neil Armstrong flubbed the "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" announcement.
"Good luck, Mr. Gorsky!"
Jed Babbin said that "going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion."
Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry said lots of really dumb things.
Transcript reproduces 2007 commencement address delivered by Yogi Berra at Saint Louis University.
Bush, George W:
President George W. Bush asked Brazilian president Fernando Cardoso if "Brazil has blacks, too."
President George W. Bush proclaimed, "The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur."
Collection of memorable misstatements attributed to George W. Bush.
"When I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean, I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff."
"I'm inconsolable at the present time. I was a very good friend of Jordan. He was probably the greatest basketball player this country has ever seen; we will never see his like again."
In 1854 Chief Seattle gave an impassioned speech about the sanctity of the land.
Quotation reproduces Roman statesman Cicero's remarks about balancing the budget, reducing public debt, and curtailing foreign assistance.
"Yes, the President should resign. He has lied to the American people . . ."
In one of his films, actor Tony Curtis delivered the line, "Yondah lies da castle of my foddah."
de Gaulle, Madame:
Madame de Gaulle once made an embarrassing quip by mispronouncing the word 'happiness.'
Thomas Edison said that "The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease."
Albert Einstein once declared compound interest to be "the most powerful force in the universe."
Albert Einstein predicted that if something eliminated bees from our planet, mankind would soon perish.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison delivered an unusual commencement address to the Yale class of 2000.
Scientist Michael Faraday told England's prime minister the usefulness of his invention was that 'someday you can tax it.'
Giap, General Vo Nguyen:
North Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap's memoirs pinned U.S. military defeat in Vietnam on American anti-war protestors.
Senate candidate John Glenn delivered a stinging rebuke to a challenger who accused him of never having held a job.*
Hermann Goering proclaimed that although "the people don't want war," they "can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders."
Vice-President Gore announced during a speech that his favorite Bible verse is John 16:3.*
Al Gore claimed that he "invented the Internet."
Sherlock Holmes said, 'Elementary, my dear Watson.'"
Thomas Jefferson said that "banks and corporations will deprive the people of all property."
Thomas Jefferson warned about the dangers of governmental interference in medical care.
Thomas Jefferson touted using a gun as a good form of physical and mental exercise.
Julius Caesar bade us beware of leaders who bang the drums of war.
Collection of memorable misstatements attributed to John Kerry.
King, Martin Luther:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said he "will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy."
James T. Kirk said that "A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted."
Abraham Lincoln issued a prophetic warning about the tyranny of capitalism.
Abraham Lincoln authored a list of maxims beginning with 'You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.'"
During a 1955 speech at West Point, General Douglas MacArthur told assembled cadets: "The next war will be an interplanetary war. The nations of the earth must someday make a common front against attack by people from other planets."
Nelson Mandela said that "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."
"It's a good thing I had a bag of marijuana instead of a bag of spinach. I'd be dead by now."
Actor Paul Newman authored an essay on the art of marriage.
In 1977, Ken Olsen, the founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation, said, "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."
Colin Powell quipped to an Iraqi reporter about Americans' inability to find Iraq on a map.
"The only thing a nigger can do for me is buy my records and shine my shoes."*
"Stick with driving a truck, because you're never going to make it as a singer."*
Elvis Presley's backup singers walked out on a concert after his remark that their breath "smelled like catfish."*
"I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people."
Ronald Reagan once said (in reference to forest conservation efforts), "If you've seen one redwood, you've seen them all."
"A cultist is one who has a strong belief in the Bible and the Second Coming of Christ . . ."
"You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy and the best golfer is a black guy."
"I believe that forgiving them is God's function. Our job is simply to
arrange the meeting."*
Sports Commentators (various):
Humorous double entrendres from various sports commentators supposedly made during coverage of the Olympics.*
Willie Sutton gave his reason for robbing banks as, "That's where the money is."
"Public media should not contain explicit or implied descriptions of sex acts . . ."
Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel delivered a stirring "Pre-Championship Game Speech" to his players just before the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.
Truman, Harry S.
Collection of anecdotes about honesty includes real quotes from President Harry S. Truman.
"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."
Kurt Vonnegut gave an unusual commencement address at MIT in 1997, advising graduates to wear sunscreen.
George Washington said Jews were a dangerous scourge who should be hunted down as pests.
Oscar Wilde said that "it's very healthy to spend time alone."