From NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro
Today, we take a look at what we consider to be the most memorable political lines/statements/quotes of the decade, which shaped or cemented perceptions, were repeated endlessly, and impacted American politics. Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?
1. "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Without a doubt, this John Kerry line was perhaps the most memorable one of the entire 2004 presidential election, and the Bush-Cheney team used it portray Kerry as a waffling, indecisive opponent. Kerry said it in March 2004, and he was referring to his vote AGAINST an $87 billion supplemental for Iraq, but FOR another one that would have required a repeal of the Bush tax cuts to pay for it.
2. "The fundamentals of our economy are strong." If "$87 billion" helped defeat John Kerry, then this line -- which John McCain said after the news of the Lehman Brothers collapse -- perhaps was the final nail in the coffin for McCain in the 2008 presidential contest. After McCain uttered those words, the Obama campaign quickly pounced, immediately cutting a TV ad.
3. Bush's "Bring 'em on" and "Dead or alive" (tie). No two phrases greater captured the "Cowboy Diplomacy" of the Bush presidency. In his waning days as president, Bush said he regretted saying them.
4. "I can see Russia from my house." This line wasn't delivered by Sarah Palin or any other politician during the 2008 presidential election. Instead, it came from comedian (and Palin look-alike) Tina Fey, who on "Saturday Night Live" made fun of a Palin comment about Alaska's proximity to Russia. "[Russians are] our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska," Palin told ABC in Sept. 2008. Fey's impressions of Palin on "SNL" cemented a perception that Palin wasn't a serious, qualified VP candidate.
5. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." This line -- after Hurricane Katrina -- by George W. Bush to embattled FEMA head Michael Brown underscored to critics how poorly the Bush administration (in words and deeds) responded to the hurricane and its aftermath.
6. "Go F%&@ yourself." Dick Cheney reportedly uttered this obscenity to Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy on Capitol Hill after Leahy and Cheney argued about the former vice president's ties to Halliburton.
7. "So it's not surprising then that they get bitter; they cling to guns or religion..." Republicans and the Clinton campaign pounced on these words that Obama said at an April 2008 fundraiser in San Francisco, in explaining why he was losing to Hillary Clinton in states with large rural populations like Ohio and Pennsylvania. It was a line that dogged Obama throughout the rest of the presidential election. Fortunately for Obama, these words weren't caught on videotape, thus minimizing the political damage.
8. Rumsfeld's "known unknowns" and "Army you have" (tie). After not finding WMD, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld waxed philosophical with his "known unknowns" soliloquy: "There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns -- that is to say that there are things we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know. So when we do the best we can, and we pull all this information together, and that's basically what we see, as the situation. That is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns. And it sounds like a riddle. It isn't a riddle. It is a very serious and important matter." And Rumsfeld was criticized for saying, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."
9. "You lie!" In an unprecedented outburst at a formal presidential address to Congress, GOP Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted this remark to President Obama during his Sept. 2009 speech to Congress on health care. Wilson's line came after Obama noted that illegal aliens wouldn't benefit from the health-care reform legislation Congress was drafting. Independent fact-checkers noted that Wilson was the one who wasn't telling the truth here, not Obama.
10. "Rudy Giuliani, there are only three things he mentions in a sentence -- a noun, verb, and 9/11." There were many memorable lines during the '08 primary debates, but this line -- from Joe Biden -- takes the cake, in our opinion.
Honorable mention: Obama's "You're likable enough, Hillary"… Bill Clinton's "fairy tale"… Hillary Clinton's answer on drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants… Bush's "Axis of evil"… Bush's "Need some wood?"