Christine O'Donnell's TV ad declaration "I'm not a witch" during her U.S. Senate campaign and BP CEO Tony Hayward's lament "I'd like my life back" after the Gulf oil spill tied for first place among the year's best quotes, according to a Yale University librarian.
O'Donnell's quote is cited by Fred Shapiro, associate librarian at Yale Law School, who released his fifth annual list of the most notable quotations of the year. In the ad, O'Donnell was responding to reports of her revelations that she had dabbled in witchcraft years ago.
"It was such a remarkable unconventional quote to be a part of the political discourse," Shapiro said.
The quote by O'Donnell, the Republican Senate candidate in Delaware who was backed by the ultraconservative Tea Party movement, tied for first place with former BP CEO Hayward's "I'd like my life back," the lament made in May after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
"People resented the fact that he was wanting to get back to his yacht races and other aspects of his normal life when those little problems were dwarfed by the magnitude of what people on the Gulf Coast were dealing with," Shapiro said.
Another Briton made the list: then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was embarrassed by comments he made about a voter he met while campaigning for British general election
"They should never have put me with that woman. ... She was just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be Labour," Brown said.
Shapiro noted that the top quotes stemmed from two of the biggest news stories of the year, the oil spill and the emergence of the Tea Party movement.
The original Yale Book of Quotations was published in 2006. Since then, Shapiro has released an annual list of the top 10 quotes. He said they will be incorporated into the next edition of the book.
Shapiro picks quotes that are famous, important or revealing of the spirit of the times. The quotes aren't necessarily the most eloquent or admirable.
O'Donnell, who lost the Senate race to Democrat Chris Coons, also made the list for questioning, during a debate in October, whether the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing basic freedoms includes the language "separation of church and state."
She was not the only Tea Party candidate on the list. Sharron Angle, who lost the Senate race in Nevada to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, also made the list.
"I hope that's not where we're going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies. They're saying: My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?" Angle said in January. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms.
Republican Sarah Palin's tweet: "Don't retreat. Instead - reload!" also made the list.
"The quotes become perhaps stronger, harsher, more unconventional every year," Shapiro said.
On the Democratic side, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the list when she spoke in March to the National Association of Counties. "We have to pass the (health care) bill so you can find out what is in it," Pelosi said.
Here's the list:
1. (TIE) "I'm not a witch." Christine O'Donnell, television advertisement, Oct. 4.
1. (TIE) "I'd like my life back." BP CEO Tony Hayward, comment to reporters, May 30.
3. "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested." airline passenger John Tyner, remark to Transportation Security Administration worker at San Diego airport, Nov. 13, 2010
4. "Don't retreat. Instead - reload!" Sarah Palin, Tweet, March 23.
5. "Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le! Los mineros de Chile!" Chant at Chilean mine rescue, Oct. 13.
6. "I hope that's not where we're going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies. They're saying: My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?" Sharron Angle, radio interview in January.
7. "We have to pass the (health care) bill so you can find out what is in it." Nancy Pelosi, speech to National Association of Counties, March 9.
8. "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach." basketball star LeBron James, announcing his decision to sign with the Miami Heat in a television broadcast, July 8.
9. "You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?" Christine O'Donnell, Delaware senatorial debate, Oct. 19. (The Associated Press reported the quote: "So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase 'separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?")
10. "They should never have put me with that woman. ... She was just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be Labour." Prime Minister Gordon Brown, comments about a voter he met while campaigning for British general election, Apr. 28.