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The Thirteen Scariest People in America

From the scariest presidential candidate to the scariest billionaire to the scariest cop, these truly are the worst America has to offer.
 
 
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The Thirteen Worst People in America:

Scariest Presidential Candidate: Sam Brownback / Senator (R-Kansas)
by Mary Reinholz

Once a moderate in the Bob Dole mold, Sen. Sam Brownback has morphed into a zealous man of God intent on protecting millions of fetuses from what he calls the yearly "holocaust" of abortion. Brownback actually considers fetuses to be full-blown American citizens.

Just another religious nut stalking the corridors of power? Well, yes, but this ambitious pol is the favored 2008 presidential candidate of the radical right. Brownback seems hell-bent on establishing not just faith-based initiatives, but "faith in politics" -- i.e., an authoritarian Christian theocracy.

The man speaks softly but pushes the Passion of the Christ in the culture wars, blasting gay marriage, porn, stem cell re-search and, most recently, assisted suicide. One of Brown-back's glorious moments came when he proposed introducing a bill in the Senate that would compel pregnant women considering abortions to provide anesthetics for their fetuses.

But no matter how over the top his political posturing, no one seems to be laughing at Brownback's bid to succeed Bush -- certainly not the influential Bible-thumpers supporting him like Pat Robertson and Chuck Colson. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) sponsored Brownback's conversion to Roman Catholicism in 2002, and he was later baptized in a chapel run by the secretive lay society Opus Dei.

On the economic front, the pious Senator perceived no moral quandary in accepting $42,000 from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Along the way, Brownback apparently has had access to the deep pockets of his wife, the former Mary Stauffer, whose family used to own a media conglomerate.

Brownback's 1995 bout with potentially fatal cancer intensified his right-to-life ardor, but his religious beliefs didn't stop him from living, until recently, in a $600-a-month apartment in a $1.1 million Capitol Hill townhouse owned by members of Congress and subsidized by a secretive religious organization, known variously as The Fellowship and The Foundation and registered with the IRS as a church. Brownback is a regular member of one of the group's "prayer cells."

Perhaps he prays for the Supreme Court to display the Ten Commandments since the courts, believes Brownback, have overstretched "separation of church and state" to mean "removal of church from state."

Scariest Judge: Edith Hollan Jones / Chief Justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
by Paul Drexel

Imagine you're a woman working at a company where male colleagues send you X-rated notes, hit on you, and repeatedly grab your breasts -- even once pinch your butt with pliers. To Judge Edith Jones, such depravity does not constitute grounds for a sexual harassment case, though she conceded the facts. During arguments in the case the woman brought against her employers ( Waltman v. International Paper ), Jones purportedly commented that the behavior of the man who had pinched the woman's breasts wasn't so objectionable since he later apologized. And, added the judge, at least she hadn't been raped.

Such an injudicious temperament would be chilling in any courtroom, but that it belongs to an Appeals Court Chief Justice -- and a woman who has been on Dubya's shortlist for Supreme Court vacancies -- ought to send up a red flag visible even to the color-blind. It once did, when Bush The Elder bypassed Jones after critics successfully labeled her "too extreme" for Supreme Court consideration and instead turned to David Souter. While it's autre temps under Bush Junior, he seems to have kept Daddy's old list; after Christian fundamentalists scuttled the nomination of Harriet Miers, Jones could surface as the next Court nominee -- especially if the President feels pressure to name a woman. But to cast Jones -- who graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1974, and received her first appointment to the federal bench (by Ronald Reagan) in 1985 -- as a more qualified Miers doesn't do her justice; Judge Jones is no less a federalist than Clarence Thomas.

Like Thomas, Jones likes to refer to the 18th century for guidance in her judicial opinions. In a speech she gave to Harvard Law School's branch of the right-wing Federalist Society, Jones neatly summed up her backward-looking legal philosophy. "The first 100 years of American lawyers were trained on Blackstone, who wrote that 'the law of nature, dictated by God himself, is binding in all counties and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this' ... The Framers created a government of limited power with this understanding of the rule of law -- that it was dependent on transcendent religious obligation."

Conservatives and corporations alike have a friend in Judge Jones. She champions states' rights (except when it comes to Roe v. Wade). She sees the field of employment discrimination litigation as ripe for abuse by plaintiffs. She disdains criminal defendants and complains that the "over-constitution-alization" of criminal-case procedures tilts the system away from punishing the guilty in favor of applying "fairness" to alleged lawbreakers.

Liberals have called Jones a "throwback to the Dark Ages," and conservatives have called her "eminently qualified." Now that is scary.

Scariest Opportunity Killer: Richard Berman / President, Berman and Company
by Tai Moses

Psst, buddy, want to put out a contract on a worthwhile idea?

Washington D.C. PR man Richard Berman specializes in creating tax-exempt front groups -- ad-hoc "think tanks" that sound respectable enough (The Center for Consumer Freedom, Center For Union Facts) but in truth spread disinformation through ads, skewed studies and sham Web sites on behalf of companies such as Philip Morris, Coca-Cola and McDonald's. The Center has campaigned hard and dirty against the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ramps are for pussies), no-smoking sections in restaurants, efforts to prevent mad cow disease, and campaigns to limit junk food consumption.

A native New Yorker who graduated from (no kidding) Transylvania University in Kentucky, Berman reserves some of his nastiest tactics for the hospitality industry's war against workers. Berman's Employment Policies Institute (an intentional aping of the progressive Economic Policy Institute), backed by the even more sinister-sounding Outback Steakhouses Political Action Committee, among others, was formed to defeat proposals to raise the federal minimum wage. Restaurants are required by federal law to pay just $2.13 per hour to employees who also earn tips and $5.15 per hour to other workers, rates that have not been hiked since 1997.

Using a standard Berman ploy, the Employment Policies Institute releases a flawed report that "proves" massive job loss will ensue if the wage is raised. Next, Berman's "think tank," along with allied trade groups such as the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce, peddles the biased report to journalists, who quote the studies but frequently neglect to mention Berman's ties to industry. Typical was a recent Dayton Business Journal article about the bid to raise Ohio's minimum wage. "A study by the Employment Policies Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank," the paper reported, "says the proposal could result in a double whammy for Ohio's economy. It projects the state could take a $308 million hit as 12,000 jobs may be lost while labor costs climb." Berman also runs MinimumWage.com and Living-Wage.com, Web sites that portray living-wage campaigns as union conspiracies.

Berman appoints himself executive director of his front groups, which solicit generous "donations" from his clients. He then funnels the dough back into his for-profit PR firm, Berman and Co., reportedly raking in more than $10 million a year. Let's hope he eats at home.

Scariest Proselytizer:: Rev. Rick Warren / Author of The Purpose Driven Life
by Greg Beato

It's not just Rev. Rick Warren's taste in casualwear that makes him so frightening, but that's part of it. Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life is a megalomaniac who disseminates his brand of evangelical Protestantism with the tireless zeal that Ray Kroc used to market Big Macs. His book has sold about 30 million copies worldwide since 2002. Saddleback Church, which he founded in Lake Forest, California in 1980, attracts more than 20,000 worshipers each weekend. His "seeker-sensitive" approach to the Gospel courts non-believers with rock music and other pop culture trappings. His sermons soft-pedal sin in favor of strategies for dealing with stress and marital discord.

A self-described "stealth evangelist" who believes in a "pluralistic America," Warren peppers The Purpose Driven Life with quotes from the very unholy likes of Anais Nin and Bertrand Russell. He champions progressive causes such as ending global poverty and AIDS, and he has teamed up with Bono and the U.N., to combat these scourges. Many conservative evangelicals condemn him as a neo-liberal. Fortune describes him as "secular America's favorite evangelical Christian." Warren, 52, who has PowerPointed the way to salvation for President Bush and Rupert Murdoch as well as Coca-Cola and Ford, says he's not right-wing or left-wing but rather "for the whole bird."

And, in fact, this may be true, as long as that bird is heterosexual, anti-abortion, gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, "the tyranny of activist judges," and is completely committed to Christ.

Do secular liberals who applaud and enable Warren know that he aims to recruit "1 billion Christian foot soldiers" who are willing to do "whatever it takes" to turn the entire planet into a purpose-driven Kingdom of God? That his Purpose-Driven Ministries, he says, has trained more than 400,000 ministers and priests in 162 countries?

Typically, demagogues who dream of making the whole world conform to their single, uncompromising vision wear gaudy military uniforms that give them an immediately threat-ening veneer. Rick Warren, on the other hand, favors Hawaiian shirts decorated with large pineapples. Be very afraid.

Scariest Snoop: Derek V. Smith / CEO, ChoicePoint
by Annalee Newitz

Derek V. Smith, CEO of the information broker ChoicePoint, spends plenty of time at the Golf Club of Georgia not far from his home in the Atlanta suburb of Roswell, where he lives with his wife Lisa and their three kids. When Smith isn't being a regular suburban family guy he's doing his bit to keep the whole country safe. How? By selling your private data.

ChoicePoint makes its money by compiling, buying, and selling personal information, including Social Security numbers, arrest records, credit reports, purchase histories and DNA samples. Though the government and law enforcement are big clients, they aren't the only customers responsible for pushing ChoicePoint's revenue above $1 billion last year. Smith sells your data to insurance companies and potential employers doing background checks as well. Also, in a big "oops" moment last year, he sold the personal data of 163,000 people to an alleged crime ring. (The Federal Trade Commission subsequently fined the company $15 million). You can't pay attention to things like background checks on customers when you're stopping terrorism, OK?

And Smith, 51, aims to stop a lot of terrorism. He's the government's go-to guy because ChoicePoint has worked out a neat end-run around the legal limits placed on personal data law enforcement can collect without a court order. For instance, instead of getting a judge's permission to spy on every-body named Mahmoud in Atlanta, the feds can just buy the records from ChoicePoint, including everything from home addresses to their targets' preferred Safeway stores. Plus, ChoicePoint is aggressively beefing up its vast data banks. It absorbed Database Technologies, the very company that provided the inaccurate felon voter list that prevented tens of thousands of minorities from voting in Florida during the disputed 2000 election. But don't worry. Your loss of privacy and anonymity is all part of what it means to be free. "In a free society -- particularly in today's society -- we do not always have the right to anonymity," explained a ChoicePoint news-letter. Don't you feel safer already?

Scariest Polluter: Don Blankenship / CEO of Massey Energy Co.
by David Roberts

America's most brutal environmental despoiler may be West Virginia's Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy Co., the nation's most aggressive practitioner of mountaintop-removal mining. Massey uses explosives to blow off ridge-tops in the southern Appalachians to strip the coal from within the decapitated peak. Then Massey dumps the "overburden" (everything that isn't coal) into the valleys and hollows below. Some blast sites are "recovered" -- that is, hastily filled with a layer of fast-growing grass -- but the destruction is so profound that no forest will again take root.

In areas where mountaintop removal is concentrated, the destruction to water, air quality and property values is so extensive it all but precludes the development of other industry. Coal has locked rural West Virginia into a death spiral. Over 100 billion gallons of slurry -- a toxic black sludge that results from coal being washed with corrosive chemicals -- are stored often less than a mile from houses and schools. The slurry seeps into groundwater and occasionally breaks from behind earthen dams to flood towns below. Locals are regularly showered with coal dust. The black, brackish public water is unfit for consumption or even bathing. Illness is ubiquitous.

To Blankenship, the human and environmental cost be damned. That the Appalachians are some of the world's oldest mountains and home to what may be the greatest biodiversity of any temperate region in the world seems of little relevance to Massey, and likewise Appalachian culture, with families that date back seven or eight generations on the same land, is being systematically purged from the landscape.

The son of a poor single mother raised in nearby Mingo County, Blankenship ascended the corporate ladder at Massey, ruthlessly suppressed mineworker unions (a mere 3% of Massey employees remain unionized), bullied critics, and essentially underwrote at least one state-wide election through a PAC called "And For the Sake of the Kids." The group ran attack ads aimed at liberal Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, who had the gall to rule against Massey in worker compensation cases.

You'd think Blankenship would do better by his neighbors, though he tries. Every year, in the manner of the Mafia under the late John Gotti, Massey funds a lavish Christmas party in a small West Virginia town. "Don" Blankenship arrives in a limo, puts on a Santa hat, and passes out little gifts to the locals -- some of the same people whose ancestral lands he is destroying, whose families he is impoverishing and whose children he is sickening.

Scariest Scientist: Leon Kass / Member of The President's Council on Bioethics
by Clive Thompson

The age of bioethics has given us a set of morally bedeviling questions. What does it mean to clone a person? Is it okay to remove stem cells from embryos? Unfortunately, it has also given us Leon Kass -- for five years the chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, and thus the man responsible for telling George W. Bush what to do about these thorny issues. Kass, a medical ethicist at the University of Chicago, is a deeply intelligent, articulate, and passionate guy, which wouldn't be a problem if his values weren't lodged somewhere between Victorian England and medieval alchemy. When it comes to complex ethical issues, he trusts "the wisdom of repugnance": If it seems personally icky to him, it's got to be wrong.

What seems icky to Kass includes not just cloning and stem-cell research, but virtually anything that disturbs the age-old role of women as childbearing pods. Birth control? Homosexuality? Women holding, y' know, jobs? You name it, Kass has railed against it. In his loopy essay, "The End of Courtship," published in Public Interest , he argues for the ideal woman being a gossamer creature of "self-control, mani-fested not only in chastity but in decorous dress and manner, speech and deed." Oh, and the irreligious? Don't trust them with your car keys.

The use of embryos in science requires moral scrutiny. It does not require being measured against a worldview so medieval it would have embarrassed C.S. Lewis.

Last fall, Kass stepped down as chair. His legacy lives on, though, not only because he remains an influential Council member with a hotline to Bush, but because he stacked the organization with like-minded clones and dismissed the only two who were vigorously outspoken in favor of stem-cell research -- including Elizabeth Blackburn, the only practicing stem-cell biologist of the lot. The country urgently needs a big, sprawling debate on stem-cell research. Kass has ensured it will be near-impossible to have one.

Scariest Cop: Joe Arpaio / Sheriff, Maricopa County, AZ
by Charles M. Young

A huge swath of Arizona that includes Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale, Maricopa County attracts journalists and politicians from around the world, all hoping to learn penal reform theory from Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who opens his gates to everyone except reporters known to be critical. He brags on the department website that he has "nothing to hide and nothing to fear," and except for the occasional prisoner who gets beaten to death (R.I.P. Scott Norberg), he probably doesn't have anything to hide or to fear.

Most of the press considers him a colorful character who dresses his inmates in pink underwear, feeds them $.45 meals and houses them in tents where the temperature can exceed 140 degrees and the inmates have to breath the stench from a nearby dump and animal crematorium. A true pioneer of women's liberation, he has instituted chain gangs for women as well as men. Both sexes must listen to patriotic songs, and recordings of Arpaio reading self-help books throughout the day.

Although he forbids raunchy magazines (as well as coffee, cigarettes, Kool-Aid and hot meals), his recent jailcam experiment, live Web broadcasts of inmate life including toilet sessions, was a huge hit, and was quickly linked to by porn sites around the world. When inmates sued for invasion of privacy, Arpaio had to shut it down, but it was a rare setback for "America's Toughest Sheriff," as he likes to bill himself. Under a novel interpretation of the state's smuggling law, his most recent stunt is arresting illegal immigrants and giving them the pink-underwear-and-patriotic-song treatment. Having been elected four times by America's scariest voters, Arpaio can (and does) intimidate anyone who objects to his Guantanamo of the Sonora. Why waste cruel and unusual punishment on mere Islamofascists when we've got all these criminals on the border and a shredded Bill of Rights? Welcome to the future of law enforcement.

Scariest Drug Dealer: Billy Tauzin / CEO, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
by Sonia Shah

Former Congressman Billy Tauzin has never found it difficult to switch sides. In 1995, after 15 years serving as one of Louisiana's Democratic representative, the Cajun Charmer jumped ship for the GOP, which soon in-stalled him as head of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. In 2001, with $218,000 from drug companies nestled in his campaign coffers, Tauzin engineered the industry-friendly Medicare drug benefit, which prohibits the government from using its vast buying power to negotiate lower prices from drugmakers. Once the bill passed in 2003 -- after some highly irregular late-night arm twisting -- Tauzin soon bid adieu to Congress for a cushy, $2 million-a-year job as CEO of the industry's trade association, PhRMA. There he clinks champagne glasses with the nation's top drug-makers, wallowing in a decade-long, $320-billion windfall selling overpriced drugs to Medicare patients.

No sympathy from Tauzin -- a cancer survivor himself -- for those sickly senior citizens compelled to shuffle onto buses to Canada to buy affordable medicines: according to Tauzin, these unfortunates are no better than Al-Qaeda conspirators "opening our borders... to future terrorist attacks."
Nexium, anyone?

Sonia Shaw is author of "The Body Hunters: How the Drug Industry Tests Its Products on the World's Poorest Patients" (The New Press).

Scariest Academic: Kevin MacDonald / Professor of Psychology, California State University at Long Beach
by Mark Potok and Heidi Beirich

Once Kevin MacDonald was a flower child, a peacenik, a man who abandoned his Catholicism during the Vietnam era. Then it dawned on him: There seemed to be an awful lot of Jews in the antiwar movement, and it all went south from there. Today, the 62-year-old tenured psychology professor is the man that hate groups hope will make anti-Semitism respectable.

In a nasty series of weighty-sounding books like The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements (1998), MacDonald, who received a Masters in evolutionary biology from University of Connecticut, argues that Jews engage in a "group evolutionary strategy" to weaken the "host societies" in which they live. Jews, he says, have historically been in the minority, so they've collectively decided to push multiculturalism, interracial marriage, and socialism on Gentiles -- even as they hypocritically pursue group cohesive-ness among themselves -- to destabilize society and diminish threats to themselves.

This leads MacDonald to some remarkable conclusions; he blames the deaths of "millions of people" on "the failure of Jewish assimilation into European societies," and suggests that colleges restrict Jewish admission and Jews be heavily taxed "to counter the Jewish advantage in the possession of wealth." Such ideas have earned MacDonald scorn from his academic colleagues (though tenure has insulated him, thus far, from firing). Harvard's Steven Pinker, a respected psychology professor, characterized MacDonald's work as failing "basic tests of scientific credibility."

But MacDonald is an intellectual star of the radical right, and he is cited by the likes of former Klan leader David Duke to justify neo-Nazism. MacDonald sits on the advisory committee of the National Policy Institute, a racist think tank striving to "elevate the consciousness of whites." He also
contributes regularly to The Occidental Quarterly , a journal known for rants against (non-white) immigrants.

In 2004, the journal gave MacDonald its $10,000 Jack London Literary Prize, awarded to authors whose work "is intended to promote the timeless values of Western civilization."

Mark Potok and Heidi Beirich are the director and deputy director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project.

Scariest Hidden Persuader: Michael J. Petruzzello / Managing Partner, Qorvis Communications
by David Mark

By any reasonable standard, Saudi Arabia should be considered a medieval, Taliban-esque dictatorship. The "kingdom" squelches women's rights, promotes an extremist brand of Islamic religious law, fosters anti-Semitism in its official press, and exports jihadist homicide bombers against U.S. targets.

Yet the image the Saudis present to America is strikingly different-one of a benign, religiously pious ally in the War on Terror. The Bush family perpetrates that fraud, kissing up, literally, to Saudi Arabia's oil-rich rulers. During his post-presidency, Bush 41 served as a well-compensated rainmaker for the Saudi-funded Carlyle Group, and who can forget the spectacle of the normally macho Bush 43 strolling hand-in-hand with Crown Prince Abdullah during the despot's 2005 visit to the President's Texas ranch?

But the Bushes have had help creating this charade. Michael J. Petruzzello, managing partner of the Saudis' PR firm, Qorvis Communications, lobbies Congress on behalf of his client-state's interests and tries to whitewash their public profile in the media.

It would not be a stretch to call the firm's remuneration legal blood money, considering that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis, as are many insurgents in Iraq.

Qorvis often uses surreptitious means to cover for the Saudi's backward-looking regime. The Justice Department once investi-gated a radio ad campaign Qorvis put together for a sham group whose spots advocated a "fair plan" for a Middle East peace settlement, but really talked up the Saudi government. The company has also offered to pay academics and former diplomats handsomely to speak up on behalf of Saudi interests.

These efforts have proved a tough sell for Qorvis' own staff. In December 2002 three firm partners quit amid what The New York Times called "a deep discomfort in representing the government of Saudi Arabia against accusations that Saudi leaders have turned a blind eye to terrorism."

Qorvis continues to shill on behalf of the Saudi monarchy. O'Dwyer's Newsletter reported that the Saudis paid the firm $3.6 million during the six-month period ending in March 2006. In return, Qorvis set up a "listening tour" for Ambassador Prince Turki Al-Faisal. The firm also helped get editorial board meetings for the Ambassador with the Los Angeles Times , CNN and the New York Times . Those contacts put the Saudis in a position to propagandize on behalf of Hezbollah during its summer attacks on Israeli civilian targets.

David Mark is author of "Going Dirty: The Art of Negative Campaigning" (Rowman & Littlefield).

Scariest Billionaire: Richard Mellon Scaife/Oil and Banking Heir
by Dave Lindorff

You might not expect that a hard-drinking dilettante who was expelled from Yale for rolling a beer keg down a flight of stairs and breaking a classmate's leg would become the paymaster of the resurgent American right. But Richard Mellon Scaife, heir to the Mellon fortune, has invested roughly $700 million over the past four decades into grubstaking and then backing various right-wing outfits. His foundations support the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that Right Web noted has been critiqued "as being part of a network of anti-immigrant groups that cater to a white supremacist constituency."

Not content to just pay for dubious think-tanks and propaganda operations, Scaife also dabbles in journalism -- he owns the right-wing Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and shelled out some $2.3 million to American Spectator to investigate and slime Bill and Hillary Clinton during the '90s.

In the post-9/11 period, Scaife, 74, remains active, funding the latest chapter of the right's "culture war." For instance, he bankrolls youthful-leftist-turned-loony-rightist-geezer David Horowitz's campaign to get states to pass "academic bill of rights" legislation. (To date, Scaife's foundations have given Horowitz about $7 million, or roughly half of Horowitz's op-eration's total budget.) Says Public Eye's Chip Berlet, "With-out Scaife... Horowitz would just be one of those guys in rags ranting on the sidewalk." Horowitz and Scaife lobby for laws that would allow conservative students to sue their professors for alleged "political" grading and for "indoctrinating" them with leftist ideology.

It's perhaps appropriate that one of the radical right's major sugar daddies is himself not known as much of a thinker. When Scaife sat on the board that oversees the U.S. Information Agency, colleagues say he had little to contribute. James Whelan, who edited one of Scaife's newspapers once said, "My sense of Dick is that there was not a depth of conviction about the causes he supported. They were rather strongly felt prejudices, which is ... not the same as conviction."

Dave Lindorff is the co-author of "The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office" (St. Martin's Press)

Worst Insurer: Edward M. Liddy / CEO, Allstate
by Michael Tisserand

Your federal government made levees out of tissue paper. What's a New Orleans home-owner to do? If you're one of 30,000 policy-holders in coastal Louisiana "protected" by Allstate, you thank your stars that you kept up premiums and you ring up your adjuster. Enter Allstate CEO Edward Liddy. As New Orleans tallied its dead and missing, Liddy faced an even greater horror: a third-quarter loss for 2005. His sinister solution? Effectively black-mail his customers by threatening to cancel policies unless the state of Louisiana allows Allstate to drop basic hurricane coverage, and then try his hand at a little strong-arming by notifying storm-shocked homeowners they're going to be jettisoned unless they also buy Allstate's auto insurance. Those macabre maneuvers, plus a hefty rate increase, put Allstate back in the black by the end of the year. (Dubbed a "shareholder-friendly" CEO, Liddy was compensated more than $11 million in the year following Hurricane Katrina). Now, 60-year-old Liddy has announced that he will step down as CEO at the end of the year but remain as the company's chairman. Liddy will be succeeded by his No. 2 man Thomas Wilson, whom he has undoubtedly trained to stretch out the "Good Hands" and throttle more desperate victims.

Michael Tisserand is the author of "Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and his Storm-shocked Students Created a School to Remember" (Harcourt).

 
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