The Jerks of 2005
According to my dictionary, a jerk is "an annoyingly stupid or foolish person." In 2005, there were plenty of annoyingly stupid and/or foolish people who scored high on the Jerk-O-Meter.
Tom Cruise -- Appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the actor jumped atop the couch like a monkey on steroids as he was talking about his new girl-pal Katie Holmes. As a Scientologist, he likes to share his expanse of knowledge about everything from psychiatry to medical malfeasance to pharmaceutical impropriety to popular culture to alien abductions to spiritual awareness. Calling him annoying is like calling the universe sizable.
Dennis Kozlowski -- As CEO of Tyco, Kozlowski looted the company out of $600 million, which included a $2 million birthday party for his wife, a $17,000 toilette box, a $15,000 umbrella stand, a $6,300 sewing basket, a $6,000 shower curtain, $2,900 on coat hangers, $5,900 for sheets, etc., all paid for with company funds. He will spend the next eight to 25 years in a federal prison where there are no umbrella stands and the sheets are free.
Terrell Owens -- In March of 2004 Owens signed a seven-year contract worth $49 million to play wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. After playing the first year of the contract, he griped about being underpaid and demanded that the terms of the contract be renegotiated. Instead, the Eagles suspended him for the rest of the season. A deal is a deal, unless you're a professional athlete with a large ego and the mind of a 2-year-old.
Rafael Palmeiro -- As a professional baseball player, Palmeiro testified before Congress, raising his voice and pointing his finger in the air for added emphasis, insisting, "I have never used steroids, period." Five months later, he was suspended from baseball for testing positive for steroids. Raising your voice and pointing a finger didn't work for Bill Clinton either when he claimed, "I never had sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."
Mike Brown -- Prior to George Bush appointing him director of FEMA, Brown was the commissioner of the Arabian Horse Association where he was forced to resign because of mounting litigation and financial disorder. Then along came Hurricane Katrina and he was again forced to resign from a job because of mismanagement. It's another reminder that cronyism is often more important than qualifications at high levels of government.
Louis Farrakhan -- As the head of the Nation of Islam, Minister Farrakhan claimed that the levees in New Orleans "may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry" during Hurricane Katrina. Any adult who believes such racially inflammatory nonsense is as despicable as Farrakhan.
Saddam Hussein -- While on trial in Iraq for a multitude of unspeakable atrocities, Hussein complains about being mistreated (in his air conditioned cell with a TV). They should give this evil maggot a shovel and make him dig up the 3,000 mass graves of men, women and children he created. Enough already -- hang him high.
Cindy Sheehan -- Her son was killed in Iraq. After attending a meeting with the president, along with relatives of other soldiers killed in action, she complained that Bush spoke "in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent." Then she camped outside Bush's Texas ranch, proclaiming that "Bush killed my son" and demanding to meet with him. It's a tragedy to lose a son in combat, but acting like a raving lunatic will not honor his sacrifice.
The U.S. Supreme Court -- In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that it was permissible for local governments to seize private property (via eminent domain) and turn it over to corporate developers in order to stimulate local economies. This is stupid, foolish and highly annoying; thereby qualifying Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy as supreme jerks.
O.J. Simpson -- A federal judge in Miami ordered Simpson to pay a $25,000 fine for pirating satellite signals from DirecTV. Apparently the strain of searching for his wife's real killer has rendered him discombobulated.
The world is full of jerks, including those who make lists of jerks. Some of us just can't help it.
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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels, which are available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.