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2017: The year in quotes

From presidents and politicians to athletes and activists, everyone had something to say in 2017. The words of some newsmakers shocked, others soothed, but all were memorable. These are the top 20 quotes of the year.

1

"For all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud title, the most important office in a democracy: citizen."

— Barack Obama


Then-President Barack Obama offered a message of cautious optimism about the future of the United States during his farewell address as president in his adopted hometown of Chicago on Jan. 10, 2017. Speaking in the city that launched his political career, Obama described “searching for purpose” in his early days and finding a calling in public service. He pledged to continue that service as a citizen and left Americans with a similar challenge to embrace their own citizenship.

2

"This American carnage stops right here."

— Donald Trump


President Donald Trump carried his campaign message of "America first" into his inauguration speech as he was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017. Trump promised his presidency would be the beginning of a turnaround for America's "forgotten men and women." After his speech, protesters marched through the streets of Washington, D.C., some clashing with police and destroying property.

3

"This is the upside of the downside. This is an outpouring of democracy like I've never seen in my very long life."

— Gloria Steinem


Millions of women rallied in more than 70 cities across the world on Jan. 21, 2017, in response to President Trump's inauguration. A number of celebrities, politicians and activists joined the outpouring, many seizing the microphone to criticize Trump for his callous comments about women, minorities and immigrants. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem was among the first to talk at the Women's March in Washington, D.C., itself 500,000 strong.

4

"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period — both in person and around the globe."

— Sean Spicer


A controversy over the size of the crowd at President Trump's inauguration became one of the early wars between the new administration and the news media. In his first address from the White House on Jan. 21, 2017, press secretary Sean Spicer said the crowd at Trump's inauguration was the largest ever, before contradicting his incorrect claim. Spicer proceeded to yell at reporters and accuse them of "deliberately false reporting." The news conference was widely parodied, including by Saturday Night Live and even by Spicer himself.

5

“You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that."

— Kellyanne Conway


The inauguration crowd dispute provided another memorable quote when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Jan. 22, 2017. Conway attempted to defend press secretary Sean Spicer by characterizing his remarks as "alternative" rather than incorrect. "Alternative facts are not facts, they're falsehoods," a stunned Chuck Todd shot back.

6

"Nevertheless, she persisted."

— Mitch McConnell


U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell created a viral sensation when he interrupted Elizabeth Warren during a debate in the Senate on Feb. 7, 2017. As Warren quoted a letter from Coretta Scott King that was critical of attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, McConnell rebuked her for breaking Senate rules by impugning the Alabama senator's character. His later comment about Warren’s persistence was quickly appropriated as a feminist rallying cry, sprouting memes, hashtags and T-shirts.

7

"Wait. There’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture."

— Jordan Horowitz


The 89th Academy Awards had two best picture winners, sort of. First, it was “La La Land,” whose victory was announced by Faye Dunaway as Warren Beatty stared agape at the infamous envelope. One minute and 29 seconds later, a plot twist. The wrong envelope had been passed to the presenters. “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz stepped to the microphone to deliver the news and return his golden statuette.

8

"Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one."

— LaVar Ball


LaVar Ball, father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and patriarch of Big Baller Brand, has made quite a few outrageous statements. He demanded a billion-dollar endorsement contract for his sons, called Lonzo a better player than two-time MVP Steph Curry and guaranteed the Lakers would make the playoffs. But his most outrageous? Saying he could beat His Airness one-on-one.

9

"If your baby is going to die and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make."

— Jimmy Kimmel


Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show became an unexpected platform for political discourse this year. Kimmel turned his monologues into sermons, often pulling from his personal life as he spoke about health care and gun violence. After his infant son had open heart surgery for a birth defect, Kimmel thrust his family's experience into the national spotlight. The host advocated for health care for all and implored Congress to keep coverage of pre-existing conditions, without which he said many families could not have afforded the treatments his son needed.

10

"Lordy, I hope there are tapes."

— James Comey


Former FBI Director James Comey supplied plenty of stunning moments during his testimony at a congressional hearing on June 8, 2017. One came when he swatted down a threat. Trump had tweeted that Comey "better hope that there are no 'tapes'" of a conversation in which Comey says Trump demanded loyalty and told him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey's response: bring on the tapes.

11

"If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer."

— Donald Trump Jr.


The revelation of a meeting between members of the Trump team and a Russian lawyer undercut White House attempts to discredit investigations into Russian election interference. In emails released on July 11, 2017, an intermediary promised Donald Trump Jr. that the meeting would produce damaging information about Hillary Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." Trump Jr. defended his enthusiastic reply, arguing that he was merely conducting "opposition research."

12

"Reince is a [expletive] paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac."

— Anthony Scaramucci


The entirety of Anthony Scaramucci's interview with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza on July 27, 2017, was itself one of the year's most astonishing quotes. Days into his new job as White House communications director, Scaramucci unleashed an angry tirade overflowing with expletives, thrashing Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and administration staffers he accused of being leakers. Scaramucci was fired ten days after his appointment.

13

"When these things collide, all hell breaks loose."

— David H. Reitze


Scientists witnessed "the most spectacular fireworks in the universe" in mid-August when they saw the collision of two neutron stars that happened 130 million years ago. The cosmic crash, called a kilonova, helped scientists understand details of gamma rays, answer questions about how fast the universe is expanding and reveal the origins of gold.

14

"I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."

— Kim Jong Un


President Trump made name-calling a key rhetorical tactic on the campaign trail, referring to his adversaries by titles like "Crooked Hillary," "Little Marco" and "Lyin' Ted." But in Kim Jong Un, he finally found a willing partner for exchanging barrages of insults. Trump dubbed the North Korean leader "Rocket Man," but it was Kim who turned heads on Sept. 22, 2017, when he called Trump an obscure word that had many people reaching for the dictionary.

15

"We still have no clue what being born white means."

— Gregg Popovich


San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke at length at the team's media day on Sept. 25, 2017, about America's current political climate. He called race the "elephant in the room," lashed Trump for attacking NFL players who protested before games and described the U.S. as an "embarrassment" to the world under the president.

16

"If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy."

— Carmen Yulín Cruz


As millions of Puerto Ricans struggled through a humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Maria, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz made an urgent plea for help in a news conference on Sept. 29, 2017. In her "mayday" call, Cruz said federal response had "collapsed" and local efforts had failed to deliver relief to desperate communities. Cruz’s continued criticism of Washington caught the attention of President Trump, who later called her a weak leader.

17

"I've been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was."

— Caleb Keeter


Americans have become all too familiar with the script that follows mass shootings. Offerings of thoughts and prayers are followed by arguments that often further entrench opinions on gun violence. But after the Las Vegas massacre that left nearly 60 people dead and more than 500 injured, Caleb Keeter had a change of perspective. The guitarist for the Josh Abbott Band posted a lengthy message on Twitter on Oct. 2, 2017, in which he described feeling helpless during the attack and called for increased gun control. "My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn't realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it," Keeter wrote.

18

"Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it's simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly."

— Ashley Judd


The New York Times published an explosive report on Oct. 5, 2017, that detailed decades of harassment by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Actress Ashley Judd was among the women who came forward with first person accounts of Weinstein's misconduct, describing how he pressured her to watch him shower and let him give her a massage. In the following days, dozens of women accused Weinstein of harassment, assault or rape. The Weinstein accusations were followed by a wave of allegations of sexual abuse against powerful men in Hollywood, media, music and beyond, calcifying into the #MeToo movement that reshaped the year's cultural discourse.

19

"We must confront systemic oppression as a doctor would a disease. You identify it, you call it out, you treat it and you defeat it."

— Colin Kaepernick


Colin Kaepernick may not have played a minute in the NFL in 2017, but he still dominated the early season. Hundreds of players knelt during the national anthem in September, taking up a protest against injustice and police brutality started by Kaepernick last year. The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California recognized Kaepernick with an award for his advocacy at a dinner on Dec. 3, 2017, where the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback spoke about fighting oppression.

20

"Make our planet great again."

— Emmanuel Macron


French President Emmanuel Macron twisted Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan for a global science initiative. After Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris accord and slashed federal science budgets, Macron offered researchers a home in France. His "Make Our Planet Great Again" competition awarded grants to 18 climate scientists, including 13 from the U.S.

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