- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2009

After a momentous year — with history made, elections still being counted, newcomers, has-beens, best and worst — we certainly were not a country at a loss for words. In fact, a few new ones have been added to our vocabularies — Blue-ray, carbon footprint, credit-crunch, hockey mom, Mac is back, and “change we can believe in” — and will forever be seared in our mental, if not verbal, dictionaries. And 2009 will no doubt produce many more notable quotes. That said, we conclude our “year-end” lists, by selecting a few of our favorite quotes from 2008. From celebrities to politicians, pundits and major policy makers, most of the passages weigh on the comical side of the scale, but we begin with a few of the more staid.

“Black Americans were a founding population. Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together - Europeans by choice and Africans in chains. That’s not a very pretty reality of our founding. … Descendants of slaves did not get much of a head start, and I think you continue to see some of the effects of that. That particular birth defect makes it hard for us to confront it, hard for us to talk about it, and hard for us to realize that it has continuing relevance for who we are today.”- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in an interview at The Washington Times.

“You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession. …We have sort of become a nation of whiners,”- former Sen. Phil Gramm on the economy in an interview at The Washington Times.

“My conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual.”- Steven Spielberg, who resigned as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics.

“I didn’t just fall off the wagon. I let the wagon fall on me.”- Oprah Winfrey, media mogul on regaining weight.

“I’ve been sleeping like a baby: sleep two hours, wake up and cry, sleep two hours, wake up and cry.”- Sen. John McCain on The Tonight Show to Jay Leno after losing to President-elect Barack Obama.

“I’m warning you with peace and love, I have too much to do. So no more fan mail.” - Ringo Starr, Beatles drummer, appealing to the public to leave him alone.

“Think of us like a coast guard.”- Sugue Ali, spokesman for a group of Somali pirates, rationalizing their seizure of a Ukranian ship off the coast of Somalia on Sept. 24.

“So?”- Dick Cheney when told that two-thirds of Americans did not support the war in Iraq.

“I guess a small town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”- Gov. Sarah Palin referring to Mr. Obama’s earlier career in Chicago, IL.

Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza strip were like “the apartheid era in South Africa.”- U.N. General Assembly President and former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel D’Escoto Brockman.

“I had no contact with the governor or his office, so I was not aware what was happening.” - Mr. Obama, reacting to the news of charges against Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“I certainly do remember that trip to Bosnia, and as Togo said, there was a saying around the White House that if a place was too small, too poor, or too dangerous, the president couldn’t go, so send the First Lady. That’s where we went. I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”- Hillary Rodham Clinton who was running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I am in awe of [Sarah Palin’s] strength under constant fire by the media. If someone wants to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most graceful thing to do is to lie there.”- Nicole Wallace, McCain campaign spokesperson on allegations that there was dissension in the campaign with John McCain’s running mate.

“I want to see hedge-fund managers tipped into cage fights with naked Gypsies; bank managers wrestle with lions in the O2 arena; failed regulators thrown to alligators in the Royal Docks; short sellers in pits of snakes; and distinguished City economists try their luck with sharks. They’ve had their heyday, their bonuses, their Porsches, their fine wines and oafish ostentation - they’ve had their fun. Now for ours. To the guillotine!”- Matthew Parris writing in The Times of London about the financial market collapse.

“I can see Russia from my house!”- Comedian Tina Fey, impersonating Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, broadcast Sept. 13.

“Stand up, Chuck, let ‘em see ya.”- Sen. Joe Biden, to Missouri state Sen. Chuck Graham, who uses a wheelchair.

“You are better off being homeless than being me, sir.”- Britney Spears, to the paparrazzi in L.A.

“I don’t talk about these tabloids. The tabloid trash is full of lies.”- Former presidential candidate John Edwards denying an extra-martial affair later found to be true.

“There’s nothing but sunshine hanging over me.”- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich when asked (pre-arrest) by Illinois press about rumors of corruption.

“I have always loved longitude. I love latitude; it’s in the stars. But longitude, it’s about time … Time and clocks and all the rest of that have always been a fascination for me.” - Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to the Politico’s David Rogers in an interview on the environment.

“I’ll see you at the debates.”- Paris Hilton in a video responding to a McCain campaign television ad in August.

“It’s not based on any particular data point; we just wanted to choose a really large number.” - Treasury Department spokeswoman, on how the $700 billion number was chosen for the initial bailout in September.

“I’m really coming into this as somebody who isn’t, you know, part of the system, who obviously, you know, stands for the values of, you know, the Democratic Party.”- Caroline Kennedy to the New York Daily News on why she wants to be considered to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.

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