September 21, 2016

James Watt’s infamous quip about “a woman, two Jews, and a cripple”

Nowadays, when politicians and high-profile government bureaucrats make obviously offensive remarks, they often seem do it on purpose, to generate press attention and appeal to hard-core voters on the far right or far left of the political spectrum.

The more traditional style of offensive and stupid quotes by politicians and bureaucrats are the type that aren’t actually intended to get media attention, but do.

A classic example of the latter occurred on September 21, 1983.

That day, James G. Watt, who had been appointed as U.S. Secretary of the Interior by President Ronald Reagan, was giving a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

At one point, he explained the diversity of the members of the “U.S. Commission on Fair Market Value Policy for Federal Coal Leasing” with this dunderheaded description:

“We have every kind of mix you can have. I have a black, I have a woman, two Jews and a cripple.”

Even for that less politically-correct era, it was a stupendously idiotic remark to make in a public speech with reporters present and it created a huge flap.

Of course, that was just one of many controversies Watt managed to create.

Before Reagan appointed him Secretary of the Interior in 1981, Watt was a lawyer who specialized in representing people and groups who opposed environmental laws and regulations — particularly the laws and regulations designed to protect natural areas from environmentally-damaging development.

Thus, his appointment as the head of an agency that’s supposed to protect America’s parks and wilderness areas was highly controversial in itself.

Once in office, the policies he pursued were, as feared, slanted in favor of opening parks and wildlands to more development, rather than toward preserving them. Understandably, this outraged environmentalists.

But they weren’t the only people Watt managed to annoy and insult.

For example, in January of 1983 Watt said: “If you want an example of the failures of socialism, don’t go to Russia, come to America and go to the Indian reservations.”

Later that year, he angered rock ‘n’ roll music fans by prohibiting The Beach Boys from playing their annual Fourth of July concert at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Watt explained that he banned the Beach Boys because rock concerts attracted “an undesirable element.”

Then came the uproar over Watt’s September 21 remark about “a woman, two Jews, and a cripple.”

That last verbal straw finally led President Reagan to force Watt to resign.

Since then, Watt has continued to annoy various people and groups, but not quite as famously.

Here are some of the other famous quotes and phrases linked to SEPTEMBER 21:

“The Star Spangled Banner,” Francis Scott Key's patriotic poem, later put to music and enshrined as America's National Anthem, was first published in The Baltimore American on September 21, 1814. 

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” the famous line in an editorial by American newspaper editor Francis P. Church, was published in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897.

“It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” President Bill Clinton made this statement in videotaped testimony provided to a grand jury in August 1998, when asked if there is any sex involved in his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The tape was not released publicly until September 21, 1998. When it was, his “meaning of the word ‘is’” line immediately became infamous.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading:

September 17, 2016

“Don’t tase me, bro!”

Don't Tase Me Bro
The Internet created a new way for quotations to become famous, including many that would probably might not be well known otherwise. (It also created a new way for misquotes to spread, a major pet peeve of people like me who want to know whether a quotation is real or not.)

Depending on how much you “surf the ‘Net” and how long you’ve been surfing, you may or may not know quotes like “All your base are belong to us” and “I Can Has Cheezburger?”

Nowadays, quotes like those that spread virally via social media are often called memes.

Some quote memes are popularized by graphic images with text that get posted on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Some are spread by videos, through sites like YouTube.

These online media outlets provide a lightning-fast way for memes to spread around the world and become famous literally overnight.

One example is a quote that had its initial “fifteen minutes of fame” in 2007 and eventually became a long-lasting meme.

On September 17, 2007, US Senator John Kerry gave an address to students at the University of Florida in Gainesville. After delivering his prepared remarks, Kerry took questions from the audience.

As the Q&A period was ending, 21-year-old student Andrew Meyer grabbed a microphone, started insulting Kerry, ranting about political conspiracy theories, and talking about how President Bill Clinton was impeached for getting “a blowjob” (from Monica Lewinsky).

The University police decided Meyer was going a bit over the top and started to forcibly remove him from the auditorium. He resisted.

The cops warned him to go quietly or get zapped with a taser gun. Meyer kept resisting, while yelling “Don’t tase me, bro.”

The police tased him anyway, arrested him and removed him from the building.

Someone shot a video of the hubbub. Shortly thereafter, it was posted it on YouTube. websiteThen it was reposted on multiple YouTube pages and other sites.

Within 24 hours, the incident and Meyers’ phrase “Don’t tase me, bro!” were known to millions of Internet users. (For the few readers who may not know, the slang word bro is shorthand for brother.)

Soon after the video and phrase went viral online, mainstream news outlets picked it up and made it even more famous.

Indeed, quote maven Fred Shapiro, author of the great Yale Book of Quotations picked “Don’t tase me, bro” as the most memorable quote of 2007 in his annual list of famous quotes of the year.

The word tase was also listed as 2007’s word of the year by the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary.

Meyers’ quote has since been featured on t-shirts and other accessories and has been used and recycled in countless ways in videos, social media posts, songs, books and other media.

This has given Meyer enough of a “celebrity” status and fan base to become a professional blogger, political commentator and activist.

On his website, (a URL that makes it clear he is The Andrew Meyer, as opposed to any others), the “About” page says:

Andrew Meyer writes and speaks about politics, music, sports, spiritual wisdom and more, and is internationally known for questioning U.S. Presidential candidate John Kerry and coining the phrase "Don't Tase Me Bro!"

He also sells ads to willing sponsors of his website.

One of the more prominent ads featured there as I was writing this post was an ad for a company selling “Food That Fights Dementia.”

I suspect some targets of Meyer’s political attacks might find that ironic.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading: books about Internet memes…

September 03, 2016

The (Pit) Bull Heard ‘Round the World…

Sarah Palin at Republican Convention 2008
Every four years, the American presidential election campaign generates a new batch of oft-cited political quotes.

On September 3, 2008, former Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin uttered a line that was soon both famous and infamous.

That night at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, Palin gave a much-anticipated speech.

During it, the self-described “hockey mom” uttered these immortal words:

       “You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.”

The quip was widely repeated in news coverage and is now found in many books and on websites that collect famous quotations.

Interestingly, Palin didn’t create the “women + dog + lipstick” joke formula.

An earlier example appears in the 2005 book What Every Man Wants In A Woman / What Every Woman Wants In A Man, written by Texas televangelist Pastor John Hagee.

In that enlightening guide to male/female relations, Hagee wrote:

“Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick.”

I’m sure female readers of Hagee’s work enjoyed that knee slapper. (Amazingly, he followed it with an even worse one: “Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist.”)

Of course, Palin’s version of the woman/canine analogy became the most famous.

Piggy w lipstick-8x6After she said it, it was quoted, analyzed, praised and mocked for weeks in the news and around water coolers.

Even Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama couldn’t resist making a wisecrack that seemed to make a sly reference to it.

On September 10, 2008, while commenting on some of the policy “changes” proposed by Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, Obama used a version of an old joke about putting lipstick on pigs:

“That's not change,” he said of McCain’s proposals. “That's just calling the same thing something different. But you know, you can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig.”

Well, holy moly! That got the Republicans as mad as honked-off horny toads! So, they responded by calling Obama, among other things, a sexist pig.

Naturally, that made the Democrats as mad as a bull seeing red, so they responded by saying...

Nevermind. We had to listen to porcine puns and canine quips by politicians, headline writers and the TV pundits for weeks. It drove us all crazy. (Me anyway.) 

I’m giving the animal rights group PETA the last word on the great animal + lipstick analogy debate of 2008.

PETA posted an anti-animal testing Google Adsense ad that came up on some websites if you searched the phrase “lipstick on a pig.”

The ad said:

“Lipstick on a pig? Pigs shouldn’t have lipstick unless they’ve been kissed. Help Pigs now!”

And, may the gods help us voters live through the latest rancorous, insult-filled presidential campaign.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading and viewing…

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy

Copyright © Subtropic Productions LLC

All original text written for the This Day in Quotes quotations blog is copyrighted by the Subtropic Productions LLC and may not be used without permission, except for short "fair use" excerpts or quotes which, if used, must be attributed to and, if online, must include a link to

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something posted here and believe we may have violated fair use standards, please let us know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and is committed to protecting your privacy. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.