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Rumsfeld Receives ‘Foot in Mouth’ Award

December 2, 2003

LONDON (AP) _ He may not know it _ or know that he knows it _ but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has won this year’s ``Foot in Mouth″ award for the most baffling statement by a public figure.

Britain’s Plain English Campaign, scourge of jargon, cliches and legalese, announced the honors Tuesday, giving runner-up to California governor Arnold Schwartzenegger.

The top prize went to Rumsfeld for this logic-twister he gave at a press briefing on Iraq:

``Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns, there are things we know we know,″ Rumsfeld said.

``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.″

``We think we know what he means,″ said Plain English Campaign spokesman John Lister. ``But we don’t know if we really know.″

Schwarzenegger’s honored entry, made to a radio interviewer, was more straightforward: ``I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.″

British politician Chris Patten was singled out for his assessment of Britain’s main opposition party: ``Having committed political suicide, the Conservative Party is now living to regret it.″

The annual ``Golden Bull″ award was shared by several British companies: JMC Airlines, now part of the Thomas Cook travel group; Lloyds Pharmacy, clothing and household goods retailer Marks and Spencer, electrical appliance maker SMEG, the bank Standard Life and Warburtons Bakers.

Marks and Spencer was cited for the label ``now with roast chicken″ on a roast chicken salad. ``So what was in it before?″ asked the campaign.

SMEG was criticized for a dishwasher manual which contained the instruction: ``By pressing the relative button of desired program (see table) it will lid up the relative pilot light to confirm that the operation did occurred on the DISPLAY (9) will appear a program duration forecasting (‘h.mm’).″ (Sic)

SMEG spokeswoman Pauline Dewhurst apologized and said the company has since produced easier-to-read guides.


On the Net:

Plain English Campaign, http://www.plainenglish.co.uk

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