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Sound bites

* Richard Nixon, after losing the presidential election in 1960 to John F Kennedy, generously told Ted Sorenson, Kennedy's main speech writer, that there were some things in the new President's inaugural address that he would have like to have said. "Do you mean the part about 'Ask not what your country can do for you'," Sorenson is reported to have asked. "No," Nixon replied. "The part beginning 'I do solemnly swear'."

* In Britain before 1832, it was possible to buy a seat in the Commons. In 1767-68, nominations for the Honiton, Melbourne Port and Reading constituencies were advertised for sale in newspapers. However, the arrangement did not always go smoothly. One MP who bought his constituency, Antony Henly, was furious when constituents tried to get him to represent them in Parliament: "Gentlemen, Yours I received and am very muchh surprized at your Insolence in troubling me about the Excise. You know what I know very well; that I bought you. I know what perhaps you think I don't know, that you are about selling yourselves to somebody else; and I know what perhaps you don't know; that I am about buying another Borough. And now may the curse of God light upon you all; and may your Houses be as common to Excise-Men, as your Wives and Daughters were to me, when I stood Candidate for your Corporation."

* Sir Robert Menzies, Australia's longest serving Prime Minister and dominant figure in the its politics in the 1950s and 1960s, was once interrupted by a heckler at a rally in his constituency. "I wouldn't vote for you if you were the Archangel Gabriel!" she shouted. "If I were the Archangel Gabriel, madam," he instantly retorted, "you would scarcely be in my constituency!"

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