Talkshow Diva Oprah Winfrey: "You should all be grateful for the education you received here, and that would be my message even if I hadn't built the campus and personally selected the books in the school library and designed the uniforms and devoted an entire episode of my show to covering my visit here today. As you go forward, remember: Wear a smile on your face, and keep dresses of various sizes in your closet."
New York Governor David Paterson: "I'm pleased to be here at Monmouth College in Illinois and...what? This is Monmouth University in New Jersey? New Jersey? Are you sure?"
Former Vice President Dick Cheney: "I think it's significant that at no time during the last four years was your campus disrupted by flood, fire, famine, or foreign forces of any kind. I'm afraid next year's graduating class will not be so fortunate."
Comedienne Wanda Sykes: "I'd like to thank the former vice president for that kind introduction. But floods and fires, is he serious? I hope as he leaves the stage his pants catch fire. I hope a few foreign forces are waiting for him in the parking lot and that they torture him by pulling out his kidneys. You've been a great audience!"
Tycoon Donald Trump: "Let me honest with you, it's a jungle out there. So here are two things that have helped me: First, I've never paid retail; and, second, I'm always willing to pose naked if it will help close the deal."
Senator Arlen Specter: "In the immortal words of the Beach Boys: be true to your school, just like you would to your girl or guy. Be true to your school, and let your colors fly. Be true to your school. If that doesn't work, transfer."
TV Host Chris Matthews: "I heard President Obama's commencement speech at Arizona State University on the car radio and, you know what? I was tingling so much I had to pull over. I'd personally hand you your diplomas, but I'm still tingling uncontrollably. Isn't this a great day in America?"
Wealthy Blogstress Arianna Huffington: "Each of you has the opportunity to make a contribution without asking, 'What's in it for me?' I'd encourage you to apply for a position at the Huffington Post, where you'll work hard and meet interesting people, without suffering the indignity of getting paid."
Singer Ashlee Simpson: "I'm so happy to be here...to be here...to be here...to be here."
Famous Columnist Thomas Friedman: "As you can see, I'm not Thomas Friedman; I'm Marion Bender from the school public relations department. Unfortunately, talks with Mr. Friedman regarding his fee for speaking here today have collapsed. He did ask me to mention that a DVD containing his full speech will be on sale for $19.95 as you exit the arena."
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: "As you may know, my alma mater is the University of Hawaii. Also, Hawaii Pacific University, North Idaho College, the University of Idaho, and Matanuska-Susitna College in Palmer, Alaska. Here's what I learned along the highways and byways of higher education: these institutions will confirm that you were enrolled, but they are prohibited by law from releasing your grades."
President Barack Obama: "In all seriousness, I come here not to dispute the suggestion that I haven’t yet achieved enough in my life. I come to embrace it; to heartily concur; to affirm that one’s title, even a title like President, says very little about how well one’s life has been led – and that no matter how much you’ve done, or how successful you’ve been, there’s always more to do, more to learn, more to achieve."
© Peter Funt. This column first appeared in The Boston Globe.