The best quotes of 2008

From declarations of love to the sharpest witticisms – plus plenty of memorable gaffes.

John Walsh@johnhenrywalsh
Wednesday 31 December 2008 01:00
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Politics

"Rosa Parks sat so that Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama is running so we all could fly" – Inspirational slogan on several thousand T-shirts. Attributed to the rapper Jay-Z in October

"He'll be up there with Churchill" – Devoted wife Cherie Blair gives her opinion about how history will judge her husband

"I was called and I have stepped up" – Benazir Bhutto's son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 19, follows his assassinated mother to become co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party

"Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place" – The Dalai Lama calling for international action in wake of Chinese crackdown on rioters in Tibet

"You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose" – Hillary Clinton accuses her Democrat rival Barack Obama of lacking practical experience, just before the New Hampshire primary

"I am not saying I have full confidence in anything or anybody" – Harriet Harman, replying to Jeremy Paxman's question about her support for Michael Martin, seems to be experiencing some kind of existential panic

"It may be news to the Tory leader, but Paul Weller's song wasn't a supporters' club anthem" – Ian Austin, a Labour MP, was scornful of David Cameron's liking for the Jam classic "Eton Rifles" because (he said) of his fondness for 'the corps'

"Sod off, you arsehole. Get lost" – President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has a few well-chosen words for a passerby at an agricultural show who refused to shake his hand. Ah the French – toujours la finesse

"Please make sure you take all your belongings with you when leaving the train. This is particularly important if you work for HM government" – Droll announcement to passengers on the Weymouth to Waterloo SouthWest Trains service

"He's talking down to black people... I want to cut his nuts off" – Rev Jesse Jackson discerns a trace of condescension in Barack Obama. Unfortunately he was still miked up when he delivered this line on air. Although...

"My support for Senator Obama's campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal" – Marvellous news for the presidential candidate from Jesse Jackson, after he'd had a little think about the above

"Ku Klux Klan Does Not Endorse Barack Obama for President" – The official website statement by the white-supremacist organisation. Just in case you thought they were wild about a black Harvard lawyer running the country and closing them down

"It's good to be back on board, as they say in Corfu" – Peter Mandelson cheekily responds to being given 'The Spectator' magazine's Newcomer of the Year award by his former co-sailor George Osborne

Religion

"I read the Bible sometimes but it bores me to death. I just want to know what other people find so bloody fascinating" – Keith Richards, Rolling Stone and savant, wrestles with the word of God and isn't impressed

"It is not all about cutting people's heads off and stoning – that is one aspect of Sharia" – Reassurance of a kind about Sharia law from Suhaib Hasan

"I have had enough. I leave the rest to God to get my revenge" – Mohamed Al Fayed grudgingly accepts the verdict of the inquest into the deaths of his son, Dodi, and Diana, Princess of Wales

"I'm down with the ethnics. You can't out-ethnic me. My children are a quarter Indian, so put that in your pipe and smoke it" – Boris Johnson explaining to the BBC's Asian Network that there's no one more Asian, black or Semitic than he

Fashion

"Like very large numbers of men, I have always bought my socks and pants at Marks & Sparks. I've noticed something very troubling has happened. There's no other way to put this: their pants no longer provide adequate support. When I've discussed this with friends and acquaintances, it has revealed widespread gusset anxiety" – Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman seizes the news agenda

"I'm not going to put those trunks on ever again" – Daniel Craig cannot bear that photo of his manly crotch emerging from the briny in blue swimwear. All the female attention threatened to turn him into some sort of, I dunno, sex object

Showbiz

"I want at least five kids. And I would love to go on Countdown" – Singer Amy Winehouse reveals her softer, more domestic, more daytime-TV side

"Riots in Greece, shows closing on Broadway, it's a disturbing world. I hope this film offers some respite from that" – Film director Baz Luhrmann displays a fine sense of proportion when plugging his new movie, 'Australia'.

"I haven't even seen any of my movies. When I look at filmed scenes of myself, I suck" – The modest William ('Star Trek') Shatner

"No one wants to see an old hooker" – Julia Roberts turns down the chance to star in a sequel to 'Pretty Woman'. Ms Roberts is 41

"Theatre actors look down on film actors, who look down on TV actors. Thank God for reality shows or we wouldn't have anybody to look down on" – George Clooney explains the pecking order of actors

"Jerry Springer is an appalling man. This isn't entertainment, this is an absolute disgrace. We are very unhappy with this" – A spokesman for America's Little People Organisation berates the notorious TV host, whose show featured a punch-up between two midgets

"Last week, I probably slept an average of two hours a night. I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going" – Actor Heath Ledger, speaking to reportersi in January. He died a few days later

"I put down the groceries, headed straight for the liquor store, bought a bottle of vodka and got smashed" – Daniel Craig explains how he celebrated on hearing he'd got the part of James Bond

"Amidst this haze of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, Amy Wineglass has just been released on bail" – Jon Snow's Freudian slip on 'Channel 4 News'

Fame

"Since Britney started wearing clothes and behaving, Paris is out of town not bothering anybody any more, thank God. And evidently Lindsay Lohan has gone gay; we don't seem to have much of an issue" – William Bratton, Los Angeles police chief, isn't too upset by the disappearance of the paparazzi on his beat

"Angelina Jolie and her vacuous hubby Brad Pitt make about $40m a year in violent, psychopathic movies and give away three of it to starving children, trying to look as if they give a crap about humanity" – Roseanne Barr didn't want to go to their New Year's Eve party anyway

"If I could go into the woods and kill a bear myself, I'd wear it proudly as a trophy" – Nigella Lawson laughs (flirtatiously) in the face of the anti-fur lobby

"With her security cameras and all the photographers out in the street, crime has stopped altogether" – Kate Moss's neighbours point out the plus side of living next to a supermodel

"American women: can't afford to live with them. Can't afford to pay them $2m a year" – John Cleese, on his third divorce, updates an old piece of wisdom about the sex war

"That wrinkly, white-haired guy used me in his campaign ad. Which I guess means I am running for President – so thanks for the endorsement, white-haired dude. And I want America to know that I am, like, totally ready to lead" – Paris Hilton was featured by John McCain in his negative commercial about Obama. Did she really think it was an invite to the Oval Office?

Finance

"It's not based on any particular data point. We just wanted to choose a really large number" – A US Treasury Department spokeswoman explaining how they settled on $700bn for the first 'bailout' of the economy

Literature and art

"I absolutely apologise unreservedly. We thought it was an affectionate nickname given by you" – Newsreader Katie Derham to Sue Tilley, the model for Lucian Freud's painting, 'Benefits Supervisor Sleeping', after calling her 'Fat Sue' on air

"The staff who run the website had never heard of Lolita and, to be honest, no one else here had either. We had to look it up on Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now" – Woolworths spokesperson, after the chain store was pressured to withdraw the 'Lolita' range of children's bedroom furniture

"The idea that I had stopped writing poems because I had bad communication with the Queen is patently ridiculous" – Outgoing Poet Laureate Andrew Motion is dismayed by newspapers mangling the story about his suffering from writer's block during his tenure

"It was so infantile in the papers. I was always reading about how Harry Potter was waving his other wand. There is a great deal more going on in the play, you know. I'm not writing porn, for God's sake" – Playwright Sir Peter Shaffer is appalled by the willy jokes during a London revival of 'Equus', starring Daniel Radcliffe

Sport

"I'm proud to see his penis 25ft tall. It's huge. It's enormous. Massive. If I looked like that, I'd walk down the streets in my panties, too" – Victoria Beckham defends her husband David's reclining-and-bulging Armani pants commercial

"We're not jusht, what you call, underdogs, but masshive underdogs" – Ex-England football coach Steve McClaren adopts a Dutch accent when interviewed in the Netherlands as new manager of FC Twente

Rock'n'roll

"Kids, drink responsibly or you'll end up looking like this: not pretty!" – Isn't she a riot? After a night on the tiles, drinking at the Glamour Awards party, singer Lily Allen has some sage advice for would-be pop stars.

"If I change my name again, y'all can have me certified as crazy, right?" – Hip-hop impresario P Diddy, formerly Puff Daddy, formerly Sean "Puffy" Combs is just one cray-zee mother

"It's not because of the money he has – it's because of the personality he has" – Ronnie Wood's Russian model girlfriend Ekaterina's mother explains her daughter's connection with the wayward Rolling Stone. Well of course. What else could have attracted her to the 62-year-old multi-millionaire?

Sex

"It was a double-decker and we went upstairs. It was completely empty and by the time we got off we knew each other better than when we'd got on. And even better the next morning" – Eeeeuuwww. Cherie Blair shares her first romantic encounter with Tony

"When I have my photo taken, I don't say 'cheese.' I say 'sex'" – Carla Bruni, wife of French President Sarkozy

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