In the hope that not every 23rd century graduate student in anthropology will simply skip over 1990 as little more than 12 months of posturing budget summits, political campaign drivel and war drums, we submit the following verbal evidence that 1990 was, in its own way, kind of special.
World Leadership in Focus. "They say Mitterrand has 100 lovers; one has AIDS, but he doesn't know which one. Bush has 100 bodyguards. One is a terrorist, but he doesn't know which one. Gorbachev has 100 economic advisers. One is smart but he doesn't know which one." (Mikhail Gorbachev commenting on a couple of colleagues and himself.)
Fresh Perspective on German Reunification. "I view this in much the same way I view a possible Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis reconciliation. I never really enjoyed any of their previous work, and I'm not sure I need to see any of their new stuff." (Comedian Dennis Miller.)
Wisdom Often Does Come With Age. "Anybody who thinks that Japan is going to export democracy to China must be smoking pot." (Former president Richard Nixon arguing that the United States must be forceful in promoting human rights in China.)
More Reasons Why America Honors and Respects Washington, D.C. The U.S. Air Force was charged $999 by the Pratt & Whitney Co. for a single pair of pliers, an amount which seemed excessive until company spokesman Robert Carroll listed the unique advantages of the pliers: "They're multi-purpose. Not only do they put the clips on, but they take them off."
Things You Couldn't Imagine Vice President Fritz Mondale Doing Department. Just before buying an anatomically explicit South American Indian doll, the vice president of the United States reportedly said to his wife, "I could take this home, Marilyn. This is something teenage boys might find of interest."
To her credit and to her husband, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent his purchase of the doll, Marilyn Quayle exclaimed, "Dan, you're not getting that. Oh, no."
Nothing Mechanical About His Performance, or Accosting Automation. This is how ABC's Peter Jennings actually broadcast the following item: "Ohio Congressman Donald Lukens has resigned. Mr. Lukens was a Republican who was convicted of having sex with a teenager. Now he is accused of sexual harassment of a Capitol Hill elevator."
Preliminary Race Results of 1990. When Republican state representative David Duke, who is a former leader in the Ku Klux Klan, ran for the U.S. Senate from Louisiana, the national GOP opposed his candidacy. This prompted Duke's campaign manager, Jim McPherson, to observe, "It seems to me ironic that the people who put on the Willie Horton commercial would be complaining about David Duke's views."
Former Louisiana governor and self-styled Ladies' Man Edwin Edwards, a Democrat, had this reaction to the ex-Klansman's campaign: "Someone told me I should run for the Senate because I'm also a wizard under the sheets."
All of this followed the Oscars, where "Driving Miss Daisy" (which was set in Atlanta) had won Academy Awards because, according to filmmaker Spike Lee, the movie presented a "comfortable" black-white relationship. Atlanta mayor Andrew Young had a snappy rejoinder: "Spike Lee is from Brooklyn, New York. I don't believe it's possible for anyone to have a human relationship in New York."
Sports Page. Stacey King, a rookie forward with the pro-basketball Chicago Bulls, clearly has a sense of humor. After a game in which he scored only one point while his superstar teammate Michael Jordan scored 69 points, Stacey King said, "I'll always remember this as the night Michael Jordan and I combined to score 70 points."
Finally, this nugget. In USA Today, where he advocated the United States' using chemical weapons against Iraq, conservative writer Peter Gemma began, "Chemical weapons have got a bad rap."