Top 10 Quotes of 2011

Politics and the super-rich dominate the year's most memorable quotations.


For the sixth consecutive year, Yale Law School's associate librarian Fred Shapiro has ranked the top 10 most memorable quotes of the year. The list is laden with citations from political leaders, specifically Republican Presidential hopefuls, and it also reflects on the growing argument over wealth inequality in America. A selection from the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal, a pithy remark from Gloria Allred regarding then-presidential hopeful Herman Cain, and Steve Jobs's existential last words also appear on the list. Here's what Shapiro came up with:

[Check out 2011: The Year in Cartoons]

1. "We are the 99 percent." — Occupy movement

The slogan of the Occupy movement, which started in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan on September 17, is the most memorable quote of the year. Protests against corporate greed spread throughout the country in late fall, and "Occupiers" set up encampments in every major American city which inevitably led to clashes with police. The "99 percent" refers to growing income inequality in which an extremely small group, dubbed "the 1%," controls most of the country's wealth.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Occupy Wall Street.]

2. "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for." — 2012 Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren

Speaking in Andover, Mass., during an August campaign stop, Warren made her case that those who've done well in business owe the public a cut of their earning. Warren, a bankruptcy expert and professor at Harvard Law School, chaired the five-member Congressional Oversight Panel created to monitor the implementation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in 2008. She is running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against incumbent Republican Scott Brown.

[See the Best Pictures of 2011]

3. "My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress." — Warren Buffett

Billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathway argued for "shared sacrifice" from the super-rich in a New York Times op-ed on Aug. 15. In September, President Obama borrowed Mr. Buffet's idea and his name, calling for a "Buffett rule" that would levy a tax on incomes of over $1 million to offset the extension of the temporary payroll tax cut and emergency unemployment benefits.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Do the Rich Pay Their Fair Share in Taxes?]

4. "I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." — GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman

In an August 18th tweet, former Utah Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman embraced some scientific and environmental views that are at odds with those of the conservative base. Although many other Republican candidates have fallen in and out of the media's spotlight, Huntsman's national polling numbers have never moved higher than 5 percent.

 [See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

5. "Oops." — Texas governor Rick Perry

During a November 9th debate in Michigan, GOP Presidential hopeful Rick Perry forgot the third federal agency he would eliminate as president. Perry previously admitted that he isn't the "slickest debater," and his 55-second meltdown at the CNBC debate provided plenty of fodder for pundits.

6. "When they ask me, 'Who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan?' I'm going to say, 'You know, I don't know. Do you know?' " — former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on October 7, Cain admitted that his foreign policy skills needed some sharpening, but that his campaign was focused on America's struggling economy. Cain bowed out of the Republican race less than two months later after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct and infidelity.