WASHINGTON – A Republican congressman has apologized for posting a speech on his Web site without acknowledging that it was largely written by a fellow Republican from Georgia.
But Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., says he did nothing wrong in delivering the heavily borrowed address at a University of West Florida graduation in 2004.
While not lifted word for word, Miller's address contains nearly identical passages and the same life lessons as a speech Sen. Johnny Isakson wrote for his son's high school graduation in 1988 and has delivered more than 100 times since.
Miller says he credited Isakson when he delivered the speech, but that attribution was mistakenly left out of a written transcript that was posted on Miller's Web site. After a columnist for The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle raised questions, Miller amended the site to show that the ideas came from Isakson.
Miller's spokesman, Dan McFaul, said Miller apologized to Isakson for the omitted attribution. He defended Miller's address as fair, because Isakson was credited for the general concept.
According to the transcripts of both speeches, Miller replicated Isakson's concept and, at times, his wording. Both speeches outline six secrets to a "happy, successful and fulfilling life," and cite the same historical figures, quotes and analogies.
They call on graduates to treat everyone with respect, and to use their diplomas "like a passport" to be "validated over and over and over again."
Isakson's speech says: "I always find the 235-pound middle linebacker and I put my finger in his face and say, 'Don't you ever kick sand in the face of a 135-pound acne-faced math and science whiz because one of these days, he's going to pull out the scalpel and operate on your knee."'
Miller's speech says: "I tell the 200-pound linebackers, 'Don't you ever kick sand in the face of any 135-pound, acne-faced, fast-mouthed science whiz because one day he or she might just be holding the scalpel to operate on your knee."'
Isakson said he accepted Miller's apology.
"That was a very special speech to me because of where it originated," Isakson said.