Performance review 2006
It was a year to remember! Not!
(Fortune Magazine) -- Corporate governance is perhaps the central issue of this post-Enron era, and so, as we take stock of the year just past, it is with a slightly jaundiced eye. What a year it was! Boardroom leakers! Corporate spies! Real spies toting radioactive sushi! Predatory takeover artists reemerging after decades of cryogenic sleep to assault vulnerable conglomerates! The Vice President exploding on the hunting range! Kazakhstan conquering America! Tainted spinach! O.J. Simpson! One Cuban lying ill in Havana, another Cuban jumping up and down in Dallas, yelling! That, of course, is just the tip of the globally warming iceberg. There's so much more our cup of indignation runneth over. Fortunately, we have a bowl of mirth to catch the overflow, which is what we propose to do in the following pages. To let such a year go by without a comprehensive performance review seems like a dereliction of duty, particularly with such a feast before us on the banquet table of ignominy.
FOR WHEN LITTLE BOBBY CAN'T SLEEP Warren Buffett will advise youngsters on financial literacy in an animated series titled The Secret Millionaires' Club.
Real Stinkers "Yesterday, the devil came here," Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said, referring to U.S. President George W. Bush. "And it smells of sulfur still today."
Scent strips that smelled like chocolate-chip cookies, meant to advertise milk, were ordered off bus shelters in San Francisco after the city received complaints that they could trigger allergic reactions.
OH, THE HORROR Stuff that made us wake up screaming. Search us & Sure, Google's Sergey Brin (above left), Eric Schmidt, and Larry Page are great to work for (see cover story). So why do they still scare the bejeezus out of us?
Be vewwy qwwiet & we're hunting wabbit. Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot fellow hunter and old friend Harry Whittington in the face while hunting in Texas.
We couldn't use our lap for a week. Sony recalled 9.6 million lithium ion batteries after laptops exploded. One unfortunate Texan kept his laptop in his truck, next to his ammunition.
We've heard of glowing exit packages, but this is ridiculous. Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy, died after an agonizing illness that caused his hair to fall out, his immune system to shut down, and his organs to fail. Tests determined that he had been poisoned with polonium 210, a highly radioactive metalloid. On his deathbed he accused Russian President Vladimir Putin's government of being responsible. Putin denied the charge.
Alien: Resurrection After Sumner Redstone declined to renew Tom Cruise's 14-year deal with Paramount, citing the actor's bizarre public behavior, United Artists said it was appointing Cruise as its new head.
THINGS THAT DIDN'T FLY Nothing not worth doing isn't worth doing anyway. 1 What, him again? Carl Icahn called for Time Warner to split into four separate companies, citing a report he commissioned that charged the conglomerate (FORTUNE's parent) of mismanaging for the short term. Nobody seemed to listen.
2 Bad news for lesbian nuns Howard Stern's audience plunged after he moved from terrestrial to satellite radio.
3 Thanks, but we'll walk Airbus, rocked by production delays for its A380, a falling price for its parent's stock, and an insider-trading scandal, replaced its CEO. Twice.
4 People hated it when the bubbles got up their nose. 7-Eleven Inc. told franchisees to pull a high-caffeine drink from their shelves because of the product's name: Cocaine.
5 No Juice is good juice. Publication of O.J. Simpson's hypothetical confessional, If I Did It, was canceled by Rupert Murdoch. This created problems for &
6 Publisher Judith Regan No "if's" about it & she did it and got fired.
7 Operation Iraqi Freedom $300,000,000,000 and counting
Mickey Mouse Media moment On his MSNBC talk show, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner hosted his successor, Bob Iger, and gave him the iconic tie off his neck.
REMEMBER THE GREEDIEST The top five Wall Street banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman, and Bear Stearns) handed out bonuses totaling about $36 billion. That's equivalent to the GDP of Ecuador.
IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST
J. Skilling The former Enron CEO was sentenced to 24 years after a jury found him guilty on 19 counts.
B. Ebbers WorldCom's former CEO is serving 25 years in the Oakdale Correctional Institution in Louisiana.
J. Rigas The octogenarian was sentenced to 15 years for his misdeeds as CEO at Adelphia Communications.
E. coli This nasty bacteria lives in the intestines, as some Taco Bell customers and spinach eaters will tell you.
NAMIBIA FINDS A PLACE ON THE WORLD STAGE It's a small world after all.
All dressed up and no place to go Facing charges relating to backdating of stock options, Kobi Alexander, the former CEO of Comverse Technology, evaded the FBI and was found living in Namibia with his wife and family.
Blade 4: Out of Africa Wesley Snipes, filming on location in Namibia, was charged with tax fraud.
So hot they're equatorial. Hollywood's hottest couple, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, attempted to escape paparazzi by going to Namibia for the birth of their daughter. Government officials denied journalists visas if they didn't have written authorization from the couple.
THE YEAR IN DOWNGRADES Fallen stars & and one really bummed-out planet.
Donald Rumsfeld The Defense Secretary was shown the door one day after the midterm elections.
Bill Ford Henry's great-grandson stepped down as CEO and brought in a Boeing executive to revive the ailing carmaker.
Bill McGuire The CEO of UnitedHealth Group resigned amid an options backdating scandal.
Mark Foley The Florida Congressman now understands thate-mails are never really deleted. His explicit messages to male House pages rocked the Republican Party.
Floyd Landis After "winning" the Tour de France, he tested positive for doping and lost millions in endorsements.
Pluto Astronomers declared that Pluto is no longer a planet.
GOOD NEWS Researchers found that a substance in red wine, resveratrol, offset the bad effects of a high-calorie diet in mice.
MORE GOOD NEWS A person would have to drink hundreds of glasses of red wine a day to get a dosage equivalent to what the mice got.
AND THE CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AWARD GOES TO & Home Depot, which said it would resume the practice of allowing shareholders to ask general questions at the company's annual meetings.
PEOPLE WHO LOOK LIKE BORAT Kazakh is the new black.
John Bolton Diplomat
Geraldo Rivera TV personality
Dieter Zetsche Chairman, DaimlerChrysler
James Sinegal CEO, Costco
David Pecker CEO, American Media
Frida Kahlo Leftist painter
SUMMITS THAT ROCKED THE WORLD
" 1 Allen & Co. Conference Alex von Furstenberg, Barry Diller, and Diane von Furstenberg walk the walk in Sun Valley.
" 2 World Economic Forum Cisco's John Chambers, Unilever's Antony Burgmans, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Thomas Donohue talk the talk in Davos.
" 3 Bimbo Summit Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan discuss the economics of bond yield volatility in Beverly Hills.
SAY IT AIN'T SO! Hoist the petards we're comin' through. H&R Block The tax preparer said it would restate earnings due to tax problems KPMG Ex-partner David Rivikin pled guilty to selling improper tax shelters. Pete Coors The beer exec pled guilty to driving while impaired. Ted Haggard The conservative megachurch leader resigned amid charges that he paid a man for sex. GOOD CAREER MOVES Sometimes a change is for the best.
Back from the dead Al Gore's documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, may foretell the death of the planet, but it brought him back into the public eye.
Dead and loving it Elvis Presley Enterprises agreed to develop tours, permanent shows, and multimedia interactive "Elvis Experiences" with Cirque du Soleil.
Grateful dead After he was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy in the Enron trial, but before he could be sentenced, Ken Lay died of a heart attack.
GAS PAINS Hugo Chávez wasn't the only one smelling sulfur.
Oh, please Gasoline prices reached record levels, causing a backlash against Big Oil.
Deep freeze BP's Prudhoe Bay pipeline was shut down after a rusted-out pipe failed.
On his knees A 32-year-old trader at Amaranth Advisors lost $6.5 billion in one month betting on natural-gas prices.
Who cut the cheese? An American Airlines plane to Dallas was forced to land in Nashville when passengers smelled sulfur. A woman admitted she lit matches to conceal a "body odor."
AMAZON MOGUL ON THE MOON A company owned by Jeff Bezos reportedly performed the first test flights of a prototype spaceship.
INDIAN-GIVER AWARD Larry Ellison pledged $115 million to Harvard for a health institute. But he changed his mind after Harvard president Larry Summers resigned amid a mutiny by members of his faculty.
GIVING BACK Helping others after they've helped themselves.
Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates The second-richest man gave his fortune to the richest man's foundation.
Bill Clinton The former President's foundation made headlines this year with his HIV/AIDS initiative.
Bono The U2 frontman hobnobbed with CEOs and prime ministers to try to save the world.
Dick Grasso A judge ruled that the ex NYSE CEO must pay back about $100 million in compensation.
Some Dis-enchanted evening A play in two acts, Enron The Musical, was performed in Houston.
*JUNE 20, 2006: DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER MARK CUBAN IS FINED $250,000 BY THE NBA FOR "SEVERAL ACTS OF MISCONDUCT."
*MAY 10, 2006: FINED $200,000 FOR GOING ON THE COURT TO COMPLAIN, AND FOR BLOG ENTRIES ABOUT OFFICIATING.
*BY 2006, CUBAN HAD BEEN FINED TEN TIMES FOR A TOTAL OF $4,455,000.
*SINCE BUYING THE MAVERICKS IN 2000, CUBAN HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FROM GAMES THREE TIMES.