This article takes a critical approach to the language used by Australian politicians during the global financial crisis of 2007-8. Critical periods in history provide a rich substrate for the appearance of new expressions with the potential to frame the debate, influencing the ways events are interpreted and blame attributed. Passing unnoticed into usage, such memes have the potential to become part of unexamined background knowledge and covertly co-opt hearers and users into shared systems of value and belief. The study focusses on one specific neologism deployed by opposition politicians, firstly in an attempt to create the erroneous impression that a recession was occurring and secondly that it was the fault of the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. Patterns of occurrence were tracked against local and international events, indicating a life cycle with several distinct phases: chance emergence, a strategic deployment, cross-genre diffusion, resistance and eventual rejection.