It was already going to be a delicate moment of political theater — an unpopular president offering a candidate he didn’t really like an endorsement the candidate didn’t really want. But the situation was made all the more awkward when George W. Bush went to the North Portico steps of the White House in March to welcome new Republican presidential nominee John McCain — and McCain wasn’t there. "So, anyway," Bush said to waiting reporters. "As I was saying..." Still no McCain. The president smiled. And then he did a soft-shoe dance. "I’m just going to tap dance the day away," he said. Minutes later, McCain arrived with wife in tow, and the tap-dancing president endorsed the tardy candidate.
2. Greenspan "shocked" to find flaws in his free-market ideology
He used to be known as "The Maestro," for presiding over such a long period of economic growth. But this fall the former Federal Reserve chairman was being blamed for the laissez faire economic policies that contributed to the current financial crisis. In Congressional testimony in October, Alan Greenspan acknowledged that he was "partially" wrong in opposing financial regulation. "Yes, I found a flaw," he said, when grilled about his free-market ideology. "That is precisely the reason I was shocked, because I’d been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well." Also shocked is anyone who plans on retiring before the end of the next geologic era.
Olympic etiquette dictates that you don’t diss your host country. So in August, when four U.S. cyclists disembarked from their plane in Beijing wearing masks to guard against the city’s notorious air pollution, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) demanded that the athletes apologize to the Chinese. The only problem was that the masks had been provided to the cyclists by the USOC itself. That’s right. The USOC forced athletes to apologize for wearing gear it had specifically designed for them and recommended they wear. The cyclists said the negative encounter, which took place three days before the Games started, prevented them from performing their best and earning any medals. In September, the USOC sent a letter to the athletes, acknowledging it had mishandled the situation.
Really, is there any better place for probing cultural analysis than daytime television? Tempers flared when the co-hosts of ABC’s The View discussed Jesse Jackson’s off-air use of the "N-word" while preparing for an appearance on Fox News. Elisabeth Hasselbeck disagreed with Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd about the use of the word. Hasselbeck made the case that it’s a slur and should never be used, Goldberg that it’s OK for African Americans to say it. Then the two women argued about whether they live in the same world, Hasselbeck started to cry and Barbara Walters snapped, "Take a breath, let someone else talk." And the wounds of a nation were healed.
5. Barack almost forgets to ask donors to help with Hillary’s campaign debt
It was supposed to be an opportunity for Barack Obama to soothe the tensions that still simmered between Hillary Clinton’s supporters and his own. In July, the senator had secured the Democratic nomination and planned to use a New York City fundraising event to solicit donations to help pay off Clinton’s millions of dollars in campaign debt. But Obama gave a 32-minute speech that never mentioned the debt and started walking off to Stevie Wonder’s "Signed, Sealed, and Delivered," before realizing his error. Rushing back on stage, Obama said, "Hold on a second, guys! I was getting all carried away!" He then solicited the help, and doubts about whether fences had been mended were put to rest — months later, when Clinton agreed to serve as Obama’s secretary of state.
6. Project Runway contestant tells judges she wasn’t aiming for elegance
When the Project Runway judges mercilessly criticize a designer’s work, appropriate responses on the reality show include passionately defending one’s personal aesthetic, weeping and running backstage into the comforting arms of fashion therapist Tim Gunn. But Season 5’s stubborn stylist Kenley Collins never quite got the hang of constructive criticism. When judge Heidi Klum declared that Collins’ faux snakeskin tube dress "doesn’t look elegant," Kenley snapped, screaming, "It’s not supposed to be elegant, HEI-DI!" And while shrieking at anyone who questions your taste may not be the best strategy in the fashion world, it’s a sure path to reality TV stardom. Collins stayed on until the final round of competition, which she lost.
It’s the kind of fun, mindless photo op a politician really can’t mess up: the Thanksgiving turkey pardon. But somehow the Alaska governor’s trip to the Triple D Farm and Hatchery outside Wasilla went, well, foul. After pardoning a 30-lb. gobbler, Palin stepped outside the hatchery to give a televised interview, and as she was talking about life on the campaign trail, state budget cuts and her holiday plans, a man a few feet behind the governor was slaughtering turkeys and draining their blood in full view of the cameras. "This was neat," Palin said of the outing. Maybe for her, but not for the turkeys.
Sometimes you really shoot yourself in the foot. Or thigh, if you’re New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress. Burress, 31, who caught the winning touchdown in the Giants’ Super Bowl victory in February, was hanging out in a New York City nightclub when the Glock semi-automatic pistol he had holstered in his sweatpants dropped and discharged a bullet into his right thigh. Catching a pigskin while a throng of hulking men are bearing down on you? No problem. Catching a gun dropping down your pants? Tricky. Burress’ injuries were minor but, as far New York State law is concerned, the incident wasn’t. He has been charged with possession of an unregistered handgun and faces a mandatory sentence of three and a half years in state prison. Burress’s lawyer told reporters his client would "deal with the legal process in a responsible and professional manner." The Giants, meanwhile, have suspended Burress for the rest of the season. He is scheduled to return to court March 31.
Duke University officials were caught off guard in August when, an hour before a football game kickoff, two men parachuted into the stadium and landed at the 35-yard line with a ball. "All we know is, they must have missed their jump site," a Duke official said. They had. The parachuters were supposed to drop eight miles away and deliver the ball to the University of North Carolina. Apparently the jumpers delayed the leap into the UNC stadium because of some nasty weather. When the clouds finally parted, the skydivers went for it — realizing only when they hit the turf at Duke that they were in the wrong stadium.
When Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen got a call in November from someone claiming to be President-elect Obama, the Republican Congresswoman thought she was being pranked and hung up. Then Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, called Ros-Lehtinen to let her know she had actually been speaking with the future president. Ros-Lehtinen, still convinced it was a hoax, hung up on Emmanuel, too. Finally, California Representative Howard Berman called the Congresswoman, who asked the Democrat to recount a story only the two of them would know. Berman did and then informed Ros-Lehtinen that she had, in fact, hung up on Obama. When the president-elect called again, Ros-Lehtinen said he was either "very gracious" to reach across the aisle or "had run out of folks to call — if you are truly calling me." And if not, she said, Saturday Night Live "could use a good Obama impersonator like you."