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- You tolerate me. You really tolerate me.
- Said during Penn's 1996 acceptance of the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead in Dead Man Walking (1996-03-23)
- Penn was making light of his Hollywood reputation as a hothead.
- Allusion to quote in Sally Field's 1984 Oscar acceptance speech, which is popularly misremembered as, "You like me. You really like me!"
- Many of your actions to date and those proposed seem to violate every defining principle of this country over which you preside; intolerance of debate (“with us or against us”), marginalization of your critics, the promoting of fear through unsubstantiated rhetoric, manipulation of a quick comfort media, and the position of your administration’s deconstruction of civil liberties all contradict the very core of the patriotism you claim. You lead, it seems, through a bloodlined sense of entitlement. Take a close look at your most vehement media supporters. See the fear in their eyes as their loud voices of support ring out with that historically disastrous undercurrent of rage and panic masked as “straight tough talk.” How far have we come from understanding what it is to kill one man, one woman, or one child, much less the “collateral damage” of many hundreds of thousands. Your use of the words “this is a new kind of war” is often accompanied by an odd smile. It concerns me that what you are asking of us is to abandon all previous lessons of history in favor of following you blindly into the future. It worries me because with all your best intentions, an enormous economic surplus has been squandered. Your administration has virtually dismissed the most fundamental environmental concerns and therefore, by implication, one gets the message that, as you seem to be willing to sacrifice the children of the world, would you also be willing to sacrifice ours.
- Sean Penn's Open Letter to the President of the United States of America (G.W.Bush), which ran as an advertisement in the Washington Post on October 18, 2002 & republished in the Afterword of Norman Solomon's Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You, p.118 (2003)
- Thank you. If there's one thing that actors know, other than that there weren't any WMDs, it's that there is no such thing as best in acting. And That's proven by these great actors that I was nominated with as well as the — as well as the Giamattis, Cages, Downey Jrs., Nicholsons, etc. that were not nominated. We know how great all of you were. My daughter Dylan and son Hopper find it presumptuous and embarrassing to write a speech, and so I'm gonna give it a go without. God, I really thank Clint Eastwood professionally and humanly for coming into my life. The great, great cast that I had to work with, my friends. Where do you go? Dennis Lehane, Brian Helgeland, Ma. Dad. Robin, for being an undying emotional inspiration on this rollercoaster I'm learning to enjoy. Thank you all very much.
- Oscar acceptance speech for Mystic River, 76th Annual Academy Awards - Best Actor in a Leading Role (2004-02-29)
- You and your smarmy pundits — and the smarmy pundits you have in your pocket — can take your war and shove it. Let's unite not only in stopping this war, but in holding this administration accountable. Let's make this crystal clear: We do support our troops, but not the exploitation of them and their families. The money that's spent on this war would be better spent on building levees in New Orleans and health care in Africa and care for our veterans. Iraq is not our toilet. It's a country of human beings whose lives that were once oppressed by Saddam are now in Dante's Inferno.
- Carolyn Jones and Cecilia M. Vega (March 24, 2007). "Actor Penn, Rep. Lee appear at town hall meeting on Iraq war". SFGate.com.
- When you have a precedent set like that, and you have somebody, George Tenet, acknowledging in his book that he knew that the administration was deceiving the American people into a situation that is murdering young men and women from this country and others, that George Tenet and Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice and George Bush, et al., should be in fucking jail.
- On Real Time with Bill Maher (2007-05-18)
- Thank you, you Commie, homo-loving sons of guns.
- Acceptance speech for the Best Actor award at the 81st Academy Awards ceremony (2009-02-22)
- Every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it. And this is mainstream media. There should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies.