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Rumsfeld wins ‘Foot in Mouth’ prize

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s curious statement at a press briefing was named on Monday as the year’s most baffling comment by a public figure.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A particularly curious statement by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s at a press briefing won him an unexpected honor on Monday. Rumsfeld, usually renowned for his uncompromising tough talking, was awarded the “Foot in Mouth” award for a baffling message which probably left his audience in the dark, Britain’s Plain English Campaign said.

“Reports that say something hasn’t happened are interesting to me, because as we know, there are known unknowns; there are things we know we know,” Rumsfeld told the briefing.

“We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

John Lister, spokesman for the campaign which strives to have public information delivered in clear, straightforward English, said, “We think we know what he means. But we don’t know if we really know.”

Rumsfeld, whose boss President Bush is often singled out by language critics for his sometimes unusual use of English, took the booby prize ahead of a bizarre effort from actor-turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman,” was the odd statement from the new California governor.

Previous holders of the award include U.S. actress Alicia Silverstone and British chancellor Gordon Brown. Last year’s winner was actor Richard Gere.

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