Meghan McCain appeared on Bill Maher’s show the other night. One of the other guests was Democratic strategist Paul Begala. The following exchange took place:
McCAIN: The Obama administration really has to stop completely blaming everything on its predecessor, completely. And I’m really sick of hearing, oh, we were handed this we were handed this. I know. Everyone knows. But we need to move on.
MAHER: Do you think that’s what Obama is doing?
McCAIN: I do, to a degree.
BEGALA: Not to enough of a degree, Im sorry. Not nearly to enough of a degree. Ronald Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter every day for eight years. In the speech one of the things President Bush said …
McCAIN: I wasn’t born yet, so I don’t know.
BEGALA: I wasn’t born during the French Revolution but I know about it.
Zing! As always, the transcript doesn’t do it justice. Watch the video to get the full effect.
Actually, this reminded me of another great debate zinger, this time from the big Firing Line debate on evolution back in 1997. Ken Miller was facing off with David Berlinski.
BERLINSKI: Let’s turn to the question I so vainly tried to prompt an answer from Dr. Scott. How many morphological changes do you think were required to effect the transition on those charts of yours were sent to document.
MILLER: Okay, now you are — I will give you a straight answer. And the straight answer is that when you look at two species that are separated by five million years —
BERLINSKI: Okay —
MILLER: — of geological time, the number of changes must be very, very large.
BERLINSKI: Give us an estimate.
MILLER: However, recent studies of speciation — I am sorry to pick this specific species, but it’s relevant to your question — recent studies of speciation in sunflowers have shown conclusively that a new species can be establshed in terms of a speciation isolation mechanism with as few as ten genetic changes.
BERLINSKI: Yes, I have read the same science papers you have, but those are very close. A dog-like mammal and a whale are very far.
MILLER: Ah, that’s right, and the other side of the room is very far away and it should not surprise you that I get there with one step at a time, and that’s what we’re talking about.