What Is The "Quote Of The Year"?

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- Sarah Palin lost the election, but she's a winner to a connoisseur of quotations.

The Republican vice presidential candidate and her comedic doppelganger, Tina Fey, took the top two spots in this year's list of most memorable quotes compiled by Fred R. Shapiro.

First place was "I can see Russia from my house!" spoken in satire of Palin's foreign policy credentials by Fey on "Saturday Night Live."

Palin actual quote was: "They're our next-door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."

Palin also made the third annual list for her inability to name newspapers she reads. When questioned by CBS anchor Katie Couric, Palin said she reads "all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years."

Palin's quotes were pivotal, said Shapiro, associate librarian and lecturer in legal research at the Yale Law School who compiles the list.

"This quote helped shape the election results," he said of the Russia quote. "As it sank in the public realized this was someone really, really inexperienced and perhaps lacking in curiosity about the world."

Shapiro issued his Yale Book of Quotations, with about 13,000 entries, two years ago after six years of research. He expects to release the next edition in about five years, but in the meantime plans to issue annual top 10 lists.

Picking the best quotes this year was especially challenging because the presidential race and financial crisis provided so much material, Shapiro said. Last year's list ranged from "Don't tase me, bro" - shouted by a Florida college student - to a quote from a Miss Teen USA contestant who gave a confused and mangled response to a question about why one-fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a map.

Shapiro said that when he began the list he thought he would select the most profound, eloquent or witty quotes. But the celebrity culture and political discourse led him down a different path.

"What I have come to do is pick some quotes that really say something about our culture and they tend almost exclusively to be quotes that are notable for negative reasons rather than being admirable or eloquent," Shapiro said.

Palin's running mate, Sen. John McCain, also made the list twice, once for his "the fundamentals of America's economy are strong" comment in April and again for saying "maybe 100" when asked last January how many years U.S. troops could remain in Iraq.

Shapiro said the quotes may have been somewhat unfairly construed. "Nonetheless, these quotes cemented his image as someone who was out of touch with economic realities or indifferent to economic realities and being someone who was fanatical about prosecuting the war in Iraq," he said.

Shapiro relies on suggestions from quote-watchers around the world, plus his own choices from songs, the news and movies, and then searches databases and the Internet to determine the popularity of the quotes.

Phil Gramm, a McCain advisor, made the list for saying "We have sort of become a nation of whiners" in July in reference to Americans concerned about the economy.

President-elect Barack Obama didn't make the list, not even for his much-criticized remark in which he said some small-town Americans "cling to guns or religion."

"To me it didn't seem like a very remarkable or very foolish quote," said Shapiro, who describes himself as a liberal Democrat. "Ultimately I decided against it, but it was a close call."

However, a crude remark about Obama by the Rev. Jesse Jackson did make the list. Jackson apologized for the comment during what he thought was a private conversation in July.

"It indicates Republicans do not have a monopoly on quotes that are deplorable," Shapiro said.

While Obama dominated the year and produced memorable quotes, "quotes from people like Palin were more celebrated and said more about our times than anything Obama said."


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Tad Location: Jamesville on Dec 29, 2008 at 05:41 PM
    We still have two wars clo, and if obuma isn't careful we might have a couple more. Will you still chant your anti-war idiocy when they are without a doubt obuma's wars? Like Tsipi Livni said, "There is a time for talking and there is a time for fighting". obuma may have a time when he will have to make a tough decision for once. He may have to send American troops to fight or the projection of US strength around the world may suffer irreparable harm. When Clinton and the others persuade him to commit troops to a fight, will you squeal clo. Maybe he'll only use troops from the seven extra states the moron thought he campagned in.
  • by clo Location: Jax on Dec 16, 2008 at 06:11 PM
    No more Bush/republicans for a while! Enough said. Economy. "War". Yeah, you guys really did a crack up job.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 16, 2008 at 02:54 PM
    im glad that our next president has been to all 57 states. He is the most qualified man for the job
  • by Al Location: Greene co on Dec 16, 2008 at 02:22 PM
    My favorite quote is "WHO CARES?"" We worry about the littlest stupid things when we should be worrying about our children here in our own back yards who go to bed hungry ! We need to find something to believe in! Like god and the real reason for Christmas ,and not who said the stupidest things or most favorite comments. My most favorite is CHRIST IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!!!! Put that one in all your favorites!!! PLEASE???
  • by Luke Location: NC on Dec 16, 2008 at 02:18 PM
    By Michelle Obama " My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my 'Blackness' than ever before "
  • by Mike Location: NC on Dec 16, 2008 at 02:12 PM
    Here are 2 Barack Obama quotes for you to think about he said this year. Quote 1 "I found solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother’s race." His mother as you know is White. Quote 2 "To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists. " Want more?
  • by Jim Location: Raleigh on Dec 16, 2008 at 01:26 PM
    Mike Easly, I only travel if they make me, My wife did ask for a pay cut. Thanks for your money.
  • by NObama Location: Kinston on Dec 16, 2008 at 01:03 PM
    Number 1 quote of the year, "Of course I am American, wink, wink" not actually from Obama's mouth but close enough to read his lips.
  • by Thomas Location: Chocowinity,NC on Dec 16, 2008 at 12:49 PM
    In an interview Sunday with ABC's "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos, Obama tried to suggest that FOX News and others "closely allied" to Republicans are promulgating the notion that the Illinois senator is Muslim. Asked about whether McCain himself has done anything to suggest he's Muslim, Obama said, "Let's not play games. What I was suggesting -- you're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith. And you're absolutely right that that has not come..." "Christian faith," Stephanopoulos interrupted, correcting Obama
  • by Just me Location: Down East on Dec 16, 2008 at 12:24 PM
    I'm with XXX on favorite quotes of Obama. Just what kind of change would you want to make in the "greatest nation in the world". Guess we're getting ready to find out. And by the way - we shouldn't be worrying over the economy and all the world problems - after all Obama is going to "fix it". Yeah right.
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