Billions and Billions

BILLIONS AND BILLIONS….Via James Fallows, here’s a philosophical question. The late Sen. Everett Dirksen is famous for once saying “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money,” but according to the Dirksen Center they can’t find any record of him ever actually saying this. Then, in an update, they add this:

A gentleman who called The Center with a reference question relayed that he sat by Dirksen on a flight once and asked him about the famous quote. Dirksen replied, “Oh, I never said that. A newspaper fella misquoted me once, and I thought it sounded so good that I never bothered to deny it.”

Thus the question: If Dirksen never uttered the actual words themselves, but actively accepted credit for them once they were attributed to him, is it fair to quote him as the author? Discuss.