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Jewish World Review Dec. 31, 2002 / 26 Teves 5763

Bill Tammeus

Bill Tammeus
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Consumer Reports

Quotable and notable in 2002 | One of the best ways to get through each year is to pay attention to the strange and wonderfully well (or badly) put things people say. And 2002 was no different.

If it's true that Yogi Berra once said you can see a lot just by looking (and even Yogi often can't remember whether he said what he once said), it's also true that you can hear a lot just by listening. Really.

You can argue, of course, that it's unfair to pull out just a few of all the millions of words a person spoke in a year and make fun of them. Well, of course it's unfair. That's the point. But that doesn't mean it's not fun. Or that the business of newspaper column writing doesn't depend on that odd mix of unfairness and fun. So just be quiet. And listen to some of the words that floated through the air in 2002:

  • "I'm not Mother Teresa." - boxer Mike Tyson. I knew that without him saying it, although their initials are the same

  • "He was giving me a good lesson on Missouri politics, as was Jim Talent (the newly elected U.S. senator), when we drived over." - President George W. Bush, speaking of Sen. Kit Bond at a feed mill in Aurora, Mo., in January. No doubt one lesson on Missouri politics was to pretend you know how to talk like some of the rural Missourians who drived over to see you.

  • "No, no, he's a friend of mine. He's not a moron at all." - Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, speaking of Bush. As for compliments, in politics you take what you can get.

  • "Armies run on their stomachs. Legislatures run on their egos." - Kent Glasscock, speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives. It's why armies often run out of steam long before legislatures do.

  • "Armed with a platform of individual freedom, personal responsibility and smaller government, the Libertarian Party is ready to take on the big boys." - The Evening News of Jefferson, Ind. Fine, but call us when it's also ready to take on the big girls.

  • "I think dancing girls are really the way to go." - Carson Daly of MTV talking about marketing baseball to a younger audience. Bad idea. Within two years the average salary of dancing girls would be $1.3 million, adding to upward pressure on ticket prices, which in turn would force more young people out of the market.

  • "What Would Jesus Drive?" - A question on a TV commercial aimed at decreasing sales of SUVs. It is, however, easily the most inane, absurd, balmy, frivolous, vacuous, fatuous, witless question of the year. Heck, Jesus never even had a learner's permit.

  • "I can't figure out how to introduce the captain without panicking the passengers." - a Delta flight attendant talking about pilot Mike Hyjek (pronounced "hijack"). She should be glad his first name isn't Will.

  • "The university is incapable of ordering blackboard erasers in quantities of more than six without a committee." - President Lawrence H. Summers of Harvard University. So? Just order five at a time and get on with it.

  • "Who would have guessed when we met 30 years ago that you'd end up with an office in midtown and I'd have one in Harlem?" - Bill Clinton, speaking to his confidante, Vernon Jordan. Office, no. Girlfriend, well. . .

  • "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either." - Sen. Trent Lott, an embarrassment even to Mississippi. Senator, I want to say this about your state: Unlike you, many of the folks who live there have grown into productive adulthood.

  • "The students tore down the Berlin wall." - Gerica McCrary, 17, a student, on Taylor County (Ga.) High School's first desegregated prom last spring. In retrospect, it's too bad nobody thought to invite Trent Lott.

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JWR contributor Bill Tammeus' latest book is "A Gift of Meaning." To order it, please click on title. To comment on his column, please click here.

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Reprinted by permission, The Kansas City Star, Copyright 2002. All rights reserved