"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life."
-- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for a federal anti-smoking campaign.
"I haven't committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law."
-- David Dinkins, New York City Mayor, answering accusations that he failed to pay his taxes.
"They gave me a book of checks. They didn't ask for any deposits."
-- Congressman Joe Early (D-Mass) at a press conference to answer questions about the House Bank Scandal.
"He didn't say that. He was reading what was given to him in a speech."
-- Richard Darman, director of OMB, explaining why President Bush wasn't following up on his campaign pledge that there would be no loss of wetlands.
"It depends on your definition of asleep. They were not stretched out. They
had their eyes closed. They were seated at their desks with their heads in a
-- John Hogan, Commonwealth Edison Supervisor of News Information, responding to a charge by a Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector that two Dresden Nuclear Plant operators were sleeping on the job.
"I didn't accept it. I received it."
-- Richard Allen, National Security Advisor to President Reagan, explaining the $1000 in cash and two watches he was given by two Japanese journalists after he helped arrange a private interview for them with First Lady Nancy Reagan.
"I was a pilot flying an airplane and it just so happened that where I was
flying made what I was doing spying."
-- Francis Gary Power, U-2 reconnaissance pilot held by the Soviets for spying, in an interview after he was returned to the US.
"I was under medication when I made the decision not to burn the tapes."
-- President Richard Nixon
"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body."
-- Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward.
"I support efforts to limit the terms of members of Congress, especially
members of the House and members of the Senate."
-- Vice-President Dan Quayle
"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country."
-- Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, DC
"Sure, it's going to kill a lot of people, but they may be dying of
something else anyway."
-- Othal Brand, member of a Texas pesticide review board, on chlordane.
"Are you any relation to your brother Marv?"
-- Leon Wood, New Jersey Nets guard, to Steve Albert, Nets TV commentator.
"Beginning in February 1976 your assistance benefits will be discontinued ..
Reason: it has been reported to our office that you expired on January 1, 1976."
-- Letter from the Illinois Department of Public Aid
"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history... this century's
history.... We all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century."
-- Dan Quayle, then Indiana senator and Republican vice-presidential candidate during a news conference in which he was asked his opinion of the Holocaust.
"In the early sixties, we were strong, we were virulent..."
-- John Connally, Secretary of Treasury under Richard Nixon, in an early seventies speech, as reported in a contemporary "American Scholar".
"Rotarians, be patriotic! Learn to shoot yourself."
-- Chicago Rotary Club journal, "Gyrator".
"The streets are safe in Philadelphia. It's only the people who make them unsafe."
-- Frank Rizzo, ex-police chief and mayor of Philadelphia.
"I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly underpolluted."
-- Lawrence Summers, chief economist of the World Bank, explaining why we should export toxic wastes to Third World countries.
"The crime bill passed by the Senate would reinstate the Federal death penalty
for certain violent crimes: assassinating the President; hijacking an airliner;
and murdering a government poultry inspector."
-- Knight Ridder News Service dispatch
"After finding no qualified candidates for the position of principal, the
school board is extremely pleased to announce the appointment of David Steele
to the post."
-- Philip Streifer, Superintendent of Schools, Barrington Rhode Island.
"The doctors X-rayed my head and found nothing."
-- Dizzy Dean explaining how he felt after being hit on the head by a ball in the 1934 World Series.
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
--Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.'
--Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the
best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last
out the year."
--The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957
"But what ... is it good for?"
--Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
--Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered
as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
--Western Union internal memo, 1876.
"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would
pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
--David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.
"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better
than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."
--A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
--H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."
--Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."
"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say
America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."
--Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.
"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.'
--Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
--Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The
literature was full of examples that said you can't do this."
--Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3M "Post-It" Notepads.
"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built
with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give
it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And
they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we
don't need you. You haven't got through college yet."'
--Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.
"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and
the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems
to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."
--1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.
"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your
muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept
inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training."
--Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.
"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're
--Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
--Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.
"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
--Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
--Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.
"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction".
--Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872
"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the
intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon".
--Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.
"640K ought to be enough for anybody."
--Bill Gates, 1981
"Any serious graphics applications still run better on Apple's Macintosh platform..."
--Bill Gates, 1991
"I expect to win it. Sit back, put your feet up in front of the TV, relax and
enjoy it. Let me do the worrying - that's what I get paid for."
--England soccer manager Graham Taylor before the 1992 European championships. England didn't win a game.
"I have always found strangers sexy."
--Hugh Grant, six months before he was arrested with stranger Divine Brown.
"I would not wish to be Prime Minister, dear."
--Margaret Thatcher in 1973.
"That rainbow song's no good. Take it out."
--MGM memo after first showing of The Wizard Of Oz.
"You'd better learn secretarial skills or else get married."
--Modelling agency, rejecting Marilyn Monroe in 1944.
"Radio has no future." "X-rays are clearly a hoax". "The aeroplane is
--Royal Society president Lord Kelvin, 1897-9.
"You ought to go back to driving a truck."
--Concert manager, firing Elvis Presley in 1954.
"Forget it. No Civil War picture ever made a nickel."
--MGM executive, advising against investing in Gone With The Wind.
"Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little."
--A film company's verdict on Fred Astaire's 1928 screen test.
"Very interesting, Whittle, my boy, but it will never work."
--Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Cambridge, shown Frank Whittle's plan for the jet engine.
"There will be one million cases of AIDS in Britain by 1991."
--World Health Organisation in a 1989 report. It over-estimated by 992,301 cases.
"The Beatles? They're on the wane."
--The Duke of Edinburgh in Canada, 1965. They went on to produce a string of No 1s.
"The atom bomb will never go off - and I speak as an expert in explosives."
--U.S. Admiral William Leahy in 1945.
"All saved from Titanic after collision."
--New York Evening Sun, April 15 1912.
"Brain work will cause women to go bald."
--Berlin professor, 1914.
"Television won't matter in your lifetime or mine."
--Radio Times editor Rex Lambert, 1936.
"And for the tourist who really wants to get away from it all, safaris in Vietnam."
--Newsweek magazine, predicting popular holidays for the late 1960s.
Moments when saying nothing might have worked out better:
Question: If you could live forever, would you and why?
Answer: I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever.
--Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA contest
Whenever 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.
--Mariah Carey, pop singer
"The police are not here to create disorder. They're here to preserve disorder."
--Former Chicago mayor Daley during the infamous 1968 Democratic Party convention
Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.
--Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Traditionally, most of Australia's imports come from overseas.
--Former Australian cabinet minister Keppel Enderbery
We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees.
--Jason Kidd, upon his drafting to the Dallas Mavericks
Researchers have discovered that chocolate produces some of the same
reactions in the brain as marijuana ... The researchers also discovered
other similarities between the two, but can't remember what they are.
--Matt Lauer on NBC's Today show, August 22
"It's like an alcatraz around my neck."
--Boston mayor Menino on the shortage of city parking spaces
Half this game is ninety percent mental.
--Philadelphia Phillies manager Danny Ozark
They're multipurpose. Not only do they put the clips on, but they take them off.
--Pratt & Whitney spokesperson explaining why the company charged the Air Force nearly $1,000 for an ordinary pair of pliers
It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago.
--Former US Vice President Dan Quayle
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.
--Former US Vice President Dan Quayle
It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in
our air and water that are doing it.
--Former US Vice President Dan Quayle
The president has kept all of the promises he intended to keep.
--Clinton aide George Stephanopolous speaking on "Larry King Live"
That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I'm
just the one to do it.
--A congressional candidate in Texas
Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.
--General William Westmoreland, during the war in Vietnam
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