A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Life is basically all the stuff you have to do to get from coffee to wine time” (7/23)
“If people could hear the next five seconds after we hit ‘end call,’ we would have no friends” (7/22)
“In life, the only thing you ever have to do is die. Everything else is a choice” (7/22)
“Instagram is Twitter for people who can’t read” (7/22)
“Math is a drama queen. It can’t seriously have that many problems” (7/22)
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Entry from December 04, 2011
“If stupidity got us into this mess, why can’t it get us out?”

"If stupidity got us into this mess, why can’t it get us out?” is a silly saying that doesn’t fully make sense—getting out of a mess is different than getting into one. The saying has been attributed to humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) since 1978 and 1980, but there’s no evidence that Rogers ever said it. The saying has been attached to the fictional comic character Homer Simpson since 2003.

“Ingenuity is a man’s cleverness in getting out of spots his stupidity got him into” is a saying that dates to at least 1959.


7 March 1959, Clearfield (PA) Progress, “Let’s Talk,” pg. 4, col. 5:
Ingenuity is a man’s cleverness in getting out of spots his stupidity got him into.

18 February 1969, Winona (MN) Daily News, pg. 1, col. 6:
Many a man will boast of his cleverness at getting out of a spot his stupidity got him into.

Google Books
Challenge
Volumes 20-21
New York University. Institute of Economic Affairs
September/October 1978
Pg. 64:
(Will Rogers once said, “If stupidity got us into this mess, why can’t it get us out?” and Professor Tinbergen would probably see an application of that remark in much of what passes for “statesmanship” today.)

Google News Archive
17 October 1980, Glasgow Herald, “The big screen ever shrinking” by William Hunter, pg. 6, col. 3:
As Will Rogers, the comic and cowboy, liked to ask: “Stupidity got us into this mess — - why can’t it get us out?”

Google Books
The Executive’s Book of Quotations
By Julia Vitullo-Martin and J. Robert Moskin
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
1994
Pg. 185:
“Stupidity got us into this mess — why can’t it get us out?”
Attributed to Will Rogers, comedian

Google News Archive
3 March 1995, Tuscaloosa (AL) News, “Stupidity will get us out” by Molly Ivins, pg. 7A, col. 3:
I stand with Will Rogers on this issue: “Stupidity got us into this mess; stupidity ought to be able to get us out of it.”

Google Books
Fusebox:
Methodology and Techniques

By Stephen L. Nelson and Craig Girard
Brooklyn, NY: Fusion Authority, produced in cooperation with J.M. Publishers
2000
Pg. XII:
One thinks of the words of the humorist Will Rogers: “If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t stupidity get us out?”

Funny Bumper Stickers
Stupidity got us into this mess...
Thursday, November 14, 2002
Stupidity got us into this mess… So why can’t it get us out?

ZetaBoards
The Wisdom Of Homer Simpson; “The Simpsons… Forever” - Clea Duvall
CCC
Dec 20 2003, 08:27 PM
(...)
Stupidity got us into this mess, and stupidity will get us out.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 04, 2011 • Permalink