Clarification on Bush at Kennedy

Pertaining to this post: George Bush Makes me Laugh

The phrase “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” is an old southern (Southeastern, I think) expression once used by Bill Clinton. It was also used by BB King in one of his songs, and BB King was in fact on stage for this performance, but that is just a coincidence.

The phrase “We don’t get fooled again” is, I’m pretty sure, from the song “We Won’t Be Fooled Again” by The Who. (See Mike’s comment on the earlier post.)

Then, once upon a time, George W Bush tried to say the old southern expression referenced above, fucked it up totally, and then ended it by saying something like the line from the title of the Who Song. But I do not assume that he was quoting The Who. That may be a post hoc statement, it could have been a Freudian slip, or it could have been an utter coincidence.

The moment I witnessed on the TV last night is not on any of the YouTube videos. If someone out there has a copy of the show, it was during the standing ovation and applause following the film of The Who, and prior to the live on stage musical performances.

To close the circle, I refer you to the song Rockin’ In The Free World by Neil Young, the version used for the movie Fahrenheit 9/11, which begins with the audio of Bush trying, unsuccessfully, to sound countrified intelligent.


  1. #1 Stephanie Z
    December 31, 2008

    Greg, I think it’s sad, funny and altogether appropriate that you’re ending the year by putting up not one but two posts that basically say, “No really. See?”

  2. #2 2thyme
    December 31, 2008

    I thought that old Earth expression was invented in Russia 🙂

    Scotty (Character) – Quotes

    “Star Trek: Friday’s Child (#2.11)” (1967)
    Scott: There’s an old, old saying on earth, Mr. Sulu: “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”
    Chekov: I know this saying, it was invented in Russia.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    December 31, 2008

    Stephanie: No. My end of the year post is a tour de force, my best post ever. These little tidbits are merely conversation with my buddies.

    Stay tuned.

    2Thyme: Yes, I’m sure, but I think those Russians then moved to Arkansas.

  4. #4 lylebot
    December 31, 2008

    I’ve never heard “fool me once…” referred to as a Southern expression, so I did some “online” “research”. I found this:

    A 1786 essay refers to an early, non-English form of the familiar saying “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Wrote George Horne, an English divine: “When a man deceives me once, says the Italian proverb, it is his fault; when twice, it is mine.”

  5. #5 Lurkbot
    December 31, 2008

    …which begins with the audio of Bush trying, unsuccessfully, to sound countrified intelligent.

    Shouldn’t that be “country-fried intelligent?”

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    January 1, 2009

    lylebot: Yes, I would say that a treatment of old proverbs in the context of colonial williamsburg, which is what you cite, kinda gives the flavor of an old southern expression. And, when Bill Clinton said it, it became a southern expression if it was not already. Which it was.

    I’ve heard of numerous origin stories for this expression that go centuries back in Europe. But this is true of all expressions. As someone once said (do you know who?) “There is nothing new under the sun”!