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 Home > News & Policies > March 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 29, 2001

Remarks by the President at the Radio-Television Correspondents Association 57th Annual Dinner
Washington Hilton Hotel
Washington, D.C.

9:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Well, Lew, thank you very much. Laura and I are thrilled to be here. I appreciate the members of the press. I think you serve a very useful purpose, especially tonight.

As you know, we're studying safe levels for arsenic in drinking water. (Laughter.) To base our decision on sound science, the scientists told us we needed to test the water glasses of about 3,000 people. (Laughter.) Thank you for participating. (Laughter.)

It's good to see so many members of the Congress here. My fellow Texan, Tom DeLay, here at the head table. (Applause.) Lew asked me a little earlier if Tom ever smiled. I said, I don't know, I've only known him nine years. (Laughter.)

Senator Lieberman is here. (Applause.) We all know Joe is an Orthodox Jew, so he does no work from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. This has so impressed me I, myself, am thinking of converting. (Laughter.) So I don't have nothing to do from sundown Saturday to sundown Friday. (Laughter.)

Most of you probably didn't know that I have a new book out. Some guy put together a collection of my wit and wisdom -- or, as he calls it, my accidental wit and wisdom. (Laughter.) But I'm kind of proud that my words are already in book form. So like other authors, I thought I'd read from it tonight. (Laughter.) It's like the thoughts of Chairman Mao, only with laughs, and not in Chinese. (Laughter.)

Here's one from the book -- and I actually said this. (Laughter.) "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." (Laughter.) Now, that makes you stop and think. (Laughter and applause.) Anyone can give you a coherent sentence, but something like this takes you into an entirely new dimension. (Laughter.)

Here's another: "I understand small business growth; I was one." (Laughter.) You know, I love great literature. (Laughter.)

I actually said this in New Hampshire: "I appreciate preservation. It's what you do when you run for President, you've got to preserve." (Laughter.) I don't have the slightest idea what I was saying there. (Laughter and applause.)

Or how about this one: "More and more of our imports come from overseas." (Laughter.)

Now, most people would say, in speaking of the economy, we ought to make the pie bigger. I, however, am on record saying, "We ought to make the pie higher." (Laughter.) It is a very complicated economic point I was making there. (Laughter.) But believe me, what this country needs is taller pie. (Laughter and applause.)

And how about this for foreign policy vision: "When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world and we knew exactly who the they were. It was us versus them. And it was clear who the them was." (Laughter.) "Today, we're not so sure who the they are, but we know they're there." (Laughter and applause.)

John Ashcroft, by the way, attributes the way I talk to my religious fervor. In fact, the first time we met, he thought I was talking in tongue. (Laughter.)

Then there is my most famous statement: "Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning." (Laughter.) Let us analyze that sentence for a moment. (Laughter.) If you're a stickler, you probably think the singular verb "is" should have been the plural "are." But if you read it closely, you'll see I'm using the intransitive plural subjunctive tense. (Laughter.) So the word "is" are correct. (Laughter and applause.)

Finally, let's see you wordsmiths out there diagram this sentence I said -- this may sound a little west Texan to you, "but when I'm talking about myself and when he's talking about myself, all of us are talking about me." (Laughter.)

Now, ladies and gentlemen, you have to admit, in my sentences I go where no man has gone before. (Laughter.)

But in closing, the way I see it is I am a boon to the English language. I've coined new words, like, misunderstanding and "Hispanically." (Laughter.) I've expanded the definition of words themselves, using "vulcanized" when I met "polarized," "Grecians" when I meant "Greeks," "inebriating" when I meant "exhilarating." (Laughter.) And instead of "barriers and tariffs," I said "terriers and bariffs." (Laughter.)

And you know what? Life goes on. (Laughter.) My wife and my daughters still love me. (Laughter.) Our military still protects our shores. (Laughter.) Americans still get up and go to work. (Laughter.) People still go out and have fun, as we're doing tonight.

I don't think it's healthy to take yourself too seriously. But what I do take seriously is my responsibility as President to all the American people. It's the office I hold. And that is what I came tonight to tell you.

Thank you for inviting me, and thank you for your horspitality. (Laughter and applause.)

END 9:47 P.M. EST