What do you say when someone calls you a dill? And not just that but a super-dill?

That’s what Victoria’s Minister for Water was called after he was rescued from his two-night ordeal, feared dead, in his state’s Alpine region. Opposition MP Bernie Finn: ‘The ordinary Joe from the suburbs who goes walking by themselves in winter in such an area is a dill. For a minister of the Crown to do it is just super-dill.’

At his press conference yesterday Min. Tim Holding said, ‘I thought I was going to die. It was … I slid very, very fast and if you’ve ever slid in the ice before you’ll know, you start slowly and you slide faster and faster, and you gather huge momentum. You think about a lot of things. It’s amazing how much you can think of in such a short period of time.’

To his credit he intends to go hiking alone again, but with the now famous EPIRB*: ‘I think it would be very disappointing if the message that goes forward from this is that you shouldn’t hike alone. I often encounter other people who are hiking alone. We live in an age where it’s good to get away and clear your head and just be away from things…’

On being called a super-dill by Bernie Finn he said: ‘Bernie could have a tracking device but people have got to want to find you.’

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An even faster mouth belongs to the distinctive US House Rep. for Massachusetts, Barney Frank. Rumpled of dress, sharp of tongue. The latest of his wicked mots happened a few weeks ago at one of those quaintly democratic “town hall” meetings where constituents gather to hurl brickbats at their representative. This was on health care policy, the reforming of which has caused waves of ulcers among politicians.

The Youtube is brief and delightful viewing, but this is the exchange:

Young, tense woman in a stressed voice: ‘Why are you supporting this Nazi policy?’ (Jeers, cheers, general noise.)

Barney Frank: ‘When you ask me that question I’m going to revert to my ethnic heritage [Frank is Jewish] and answer your question with a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time?’

(Applause, hollers.) ‘Do you want me to answer that question? Yes. You stand there with a picture of the President defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis. My answer to you is, as I’ve said before, it is a tribute to the first amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated.

Ma’am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.’

That exchange has now propagated itself with biblical fecundity. The YouTube clip has collected 1.25 million hits and the line has achived memedom:

diningtable

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But my favourite Barneryism is actually a steal.

Q: ‘How’s your wife’?
A: ‘Compared to what?’

Frank once explained to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show that he had come to rely on the Henny Youngman punchline. As shown in this first paragraph from a Time story of last year:

Barney Frank is on the line. I ask the Massachusetts Democrat, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, if he thinks the housing bill that he and Senator Chris Dodd are on the verge of pushing through Congress will really do much good.

Frank: … ‘Compared to what?’

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For those who feel they’re exhausting the usage of ‘Whatever” (why are you lookin’ at me?) this would add colourful variety and judo technique: ‘This is a really  good/bad  movie/meal/book.’ ‘Compared to what?’ … ‘How’s life?’ ‘Compared to what?’ … Maybe even – ‘You’re a dill.’ ‘Compared to what?

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*EPIRB: Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons

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basterdbradRecent posts:
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