By the way, I'm not trying to steer away from Keiva's very intriguing fact it has me on a quest. A real toughie. The key would be the original analogy (boy/country). Without that, a search seems to be fruitless. It could be very ancient, go back to the Romans or classical Greeks. But something keeps hearkening me to a Biblical connotation...perhaps something like "you can take the sinner out of the sin, but you can't take the sin out of the can only forgive." It could also relate to the concept of "original" sin. Anyone here enough of a Biblical scholar to perhaps zero in on this 'shot in the dark'?
I've used this saying regularly, in scores of subject combinations and usually in jest, over the years. I'm really curious. On the other hand, it could be modern...20th century Madison Avenue, an ad slogan we've forgotten. Who knows? Help!