"Don't Tase Me, Bro" Is Top 2007 Quote
Angelica Swartout, center, stands between her defense attorneys Gordon Mallon, left, and Eve Oldenkamp during a news conference Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Eugene, Ore. A jury took less than two hours to acquit Swartout, who was on trial for the second time on allegations that she killed her newborn son, in a case in which no remains were found and defense attorneys argued the woman was never pregnant. / Brian Davies,AP Photo/The Register-Guard
Second on the list is a quote from Lauren Upton, the Miss Teen USA contestant who gave a confused and mangled response to a question about why one-fifth of Americans can't located the U.S. on a map.
The words of both young people were immortalized in videos posted on YouTube, the popular video-sharing Web site, and could ultimately join quotes from President John F. Kennedy and the Bible in the next edition of Fred R. Shapiro's book.
"These new media are spreading these things," said Shapiro, 53, associate librarian and lecturer in legal research at the Yale Law School. "I'm not listing the most admirable quotes, the most eloquent quotes. It's the most memorable quotes."
Last year, President Bush dominated Shapiro's list with quotes about the Iraq war. This year, he didn't break into the top 10.
"Although the Iraq war is still very visible, prominent in people's minds, I think George W. Bush is fading from the spotlight as his term ends and we see these pop culture quotes are looming larger than the political quotes," Shapiro said.
That doesn't mean politicians didn't say anything memorable this year.
Third on the list is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejab's comment at Columbia University in New York, "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country."
And Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho ranks eighth on the list with, "(I have) a wide stance when going to the bathroom," his explanation for why his foot touched the foot of an undercover police officer in an airport men's room.
Shapiro first released his Yale Book of Quotations last year after six years of research. It contains about 13,000 quotes, each extensively researched to verify its origin. He expects to add about 1,000 more quotes - mostly modern - for the next edition of his book in about five years.
In the meantime, he plans to keep releasing an annual top 10.
He relies on suggestions from quote-watchers throughout the world, as well as his own gut instinct when he hears a song, watches the news or sees a movie. He then uses a scientific method of determining the popularity of the quotes, such as searches using Internet engines and databases.
In the case of "Don't tase me, bro," he discovered the phrase was even printed on T-shirts and used as a cell phone ring tone.
"It's not Shakespeare, but there is a kind of folk eloquence in that. It wouldn't be a quote if he didn't say 'bro,"' Shapiro said. "That had just the right rhythm to make it memorable."
Shapiro acknowledged he struggled over his decision to include radio personality Don Imus' comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. Imus referred to them as "nappy-headed hos" and later lost his job at CBS radio.
But Shapiro said he ultimately decided to list Imus' quote as fourth on his list.
"My book does mix the most eloquent and magnificent quotes with the sordid and sleazy materials from recent times. There are some real jarring juxtapositions there," he said. "I wanted to include the whole culture - the high and the low, the old and the new."
The 10 most memorable quotes of 2007, according to Fred R. Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations:
1. "Don't tase me, bro." - Andrew Meyer, a senior at the University of Florida, after being hauled away by campus police during a speech made by Sen. John Kerry.
2. "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and Iraq and everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us." - Lauren Upton, the South Carolina contestant in the Miss Teen USA contest, when asked why one-fifth of Americans cannot find the U.S on a map.
3. "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country." - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during a speaking engagement at Columbia University in New York.
4. "That's some nappy-headed hos there." - radio personality Don Imus, referring to the Rutgers University women's basketball team.
5. "I don't recall." - former U.S. Attorney Alberto Gonzales' repeated response to questions from members of Congress about the firing of U.S. attorneys.
6. "There's only three things he (Republican presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani) mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11." - Sen. Joseph Biden, speaking during a debate for Democratic presidential candidates.
7. "I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a 9 percent approval rating." - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, referring to Republican Vice President Dick Cheney.
8. "(I have) a wide stance when going to the bathroom." - Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig, explaining why his foot touched the foot of an undercover police officer in an airport men's room.
9. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man." - Sen. Joseph Biden referring to rival Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.
10. "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." - Former President Jimmy Carter, referring to the Bush Administration in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.