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Stranger than Fiction


"Parking for Drive-Through Customers Only"
-- sign in a parking lot at a fast-food restaurant, quoted by Herb Caen in the San Francisco Chronicle

"Mr. Speaker, will you please turn me on?"
-- Georgia state representative Anne Mueller, complaining to the Georgia speaker Tom Murphy that her microphone was turned off. Speaker Murphy responded: "Thirty years ago, I would have tried."

"If we [legislators] don't watch our respective tails, the people are going to be running the government."
-- Bill Craven, California state senator, discussing the increase in citizens' initiatives, in which petition signing is used to change laws, reported in the Los Angeles Times

"We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air to we need?"
-- Lee Iacocca, on Detroit's resistance to tougher auto emission standards

"If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure."
-- Vice President Dan Quayle, in a speech to the Phoenix (Arizona) Republican Forum, March 1990

"We're overpaying him but he's worth it."
-- movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn

"Women prefer Democrats to men."
-- Representative Tony Coelho (D-California)

"Stuffed egg-plant with minced crap."
-- From a menu at the upscale Jade Garden restaurant in Swire House, Sydney, Australia

"The evening will conclude with a toast to the incoming president in champagne kindly supplied by the outgoing president, drunk as usual at midnight."
-- brochure for a club's annual dinner

"My dear Hortense... Farewell, my dear Adele!"
-- French philosopher Voltaire, on an off-day

"And now the sequence of events in no particular order."
-- Dan Rather, CBS news anchor, during a radio broadcast

"We haven't had any problem here about race. We just don't go for letting the colored ones in."
-- Rainbow Girls leader in Branford, Connecticut, commenting in the New Haven Register about the fact that blacks were not allowed to become Rainbow Girls

"Drug Store Body. Let's get the Good Shape and have a sexy body just like a pig."
-- slogan on a pair of Japanese overalls

"It's got lots of installation."
-- Mike Smith, Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher, extolling the virtues of his new coat

"I will now open these trousers, and reveal some even more precious treasures to Your Royal Highness."
-- the archbishop of Uppsala, Sweden, trying to impress an English royal visitor with his knowledge of English

"We all get heavier as we get older because there's a lot more information in our heads."
-- Vlade Divac, Los Angeles Lakers player

Here lies Jan Smith,
Wife of Thomas Smith, Marble Cutter
This monument was erected by her
husband as a tribute to her memory
and a specimen of his work

Monuments of this same style are
two hundred and fifty dollars
-- epitaph composed by a marble cutter

"Keep a stiff upper chin."
-- movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn

"I am not wanting to make too long speech tonight as I am knowing your old English saying, "Early to bed and up with the cock."
-- Hungarian diplomat, in a speech to an embassy party

"After the war, France and England should join hands and make a formidable fart."
-- the Duke of Windsor, talking to French troops during World War II, and mistakenly using the masculine article, which changed the meaning of his words

"I am providing you with a copulation of answers to several questions raised..."
-- letter from Marion Berry, Jr., mayor of Washington, D.C.

"On behalf of all of you, I want to express my appreciation for this tremendously warm recession."
-- Ron Brown, Democratic National Committee chairman, at the 1992 Democratic Convention

"Sure I've got one. It's a perfect twenty-twenty."
-- Duane Thomas, Dallas Cowboys halfback, answering a question on whether he has an IQ

"Makes your fingers fall off."
--Kentucky Fried Chicken ad, mistranslated abroad

"The only way we'll ever get a volunteer army is to draft them."
-- Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services F. Edward Hebert. He was serious.

"The only thing to prevent what's past is to put a stop to it before it happens."
-- attributed to Sir Boyle Roche, eighteenth-century member of Parliament from Tralee, famed for his word-mangling

"Jack, if you ever hear anyone say I am a gambler, contradict it. I never lost a thousand pounds in a night but twice."
-- Richard Monckton Milnes, First Lord Houghton's father

"Upon arrival at Kimpo and Kimhae Airport, please Wear your Clothes."
-- from a Korean steel mill invitation

"We don't want to skim the cream off the crop here."
-- Big Lewis, speaker of the Texas House

"The word 'shall' in the statute requiring prosecution doesn't really mean 'shall'; it means 'may or may not'."
-- U.S. Attorney Stanley Harris, on why the Justice Department was not charging former head of the Environmental Protection Agency Anne Burford with contempt of Congress

"If people here [in New York City] were not getting killed on the job in homicides, we would have quite a low rate of fatalities."
-- Samuel Ehrenhalt, Labor Department official

"Open seven days a week, excluding Sundays!"
-- Sign on a Kentucky Fried Chicken store

Reporter: "I understand you had an audience with the Pope."
Yogi Berra: "No, but I saw him."
-- Yogi Berra, during an interview shortly after he had met with the Pope

Movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, debating whether to buy The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman: "Maybe we should buy it?"
Merrit Hulburd: "Forget it, Mr. Goldwyn. It's about lesbians."
Goldwyn: "Don't worry about that. We'll make them Americans."

"Space is almost infinite. As a matter of fact, we think it is infinite."
-- Vice President Dan Quayle, in remarks made while he was head of the Space Council

"There are so many Latin players, we're going to have to get a Latin instructor up here!"
-- Phil Rizzuto, New York Yankees Hall of Famer and sportscaster

"I've read about foreign policy and studied -- I know the number of continents."
-- George Wallace, campaigning in the 1968 presidential race

"Instead [of having] four maids or three maids in the house, you can have two maids."
-- Abdel Rahman al-Awadi, Kuwaiti state minister for cabinet affairs

Page last modified 2008-03-28
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