'And Now, Quotations That Said It All . . .'

By Mark Leibovich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 29, 2005

What else to do this week but peruse the various year-end quote compilations of 2005? And, as always, what fun.

Among the menu items: Howard Dean hating Republicans, Pat Robertson calling for the head of the Venezuelan president, Dick Cheney swearing in -- not at -- reelected Sen. Pat Leahy, Dick Durbin becoming the latest pol to learn that Nazi comparisons never work, Kanye West saying George W. Bush doesn't care about black people, Bush saying we must fix Social Security ("or Rumsfeld may never retire") and Scooter Libby waxing pastoral about aspens turning in fall and how it was time for Miss Run Amok to return to her job (this was a few months before it was time for him to leave his).

Such lists fill space and turn pages in December -- like aspens turn in fall. The quotes run together, a blur of insurgencies in their last throes (Cheney) and victory notions in Iraq being "just plain wrong" (Dean).

There is no design to any of this, intelligent or otherwise.

Over time, most quotes will recede from memory. ("In a month," declared Trent Lott, "who will remember the name Harriet Miers?," etc., etc.) But some utterances will live on, concoctions of brilliance, intentional or not.

What were the best quotes of 2005? Oh, so many, according to our panel of experts -- a bipartisan group of Astute Washington Observers whose opinions we value greatly and, more importantly, who were responsive during a week when self-respecting AWOs are keeping their BlackBerrys holstered.

But this being zero-sum Washington, it's not enough to simply compile a "Best of" list. This town craves one winner, a front-runner quote that dominates all others. And that winner is . . . ohhh, not so fast.

By narrative convention, we'll start with the runners-up in a naked attempt to build drama and make you read to the end.

"Let me start by telli ng y ou this: I have never used steroids. Period ."

-- Chemically enhanced slugger Rafael Palmeiro to a congressional panel. The now-former Oriole tested positive for you-know-what a few months later.

But thanks for playing, Raffy. And extra credit for jabbing your finger in the air for emphasis.

"Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, you don't even -- you're glib. You don't even know what Ritalin is. If you start talking about chemical imbalance, you have to evaluate and read the research papers on how they came up with these theories, Matt, okay? That's what I've done. . . . You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do."

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