BP oil spill, Bush's war: Top 10 Epic Bad Calls


The goat of the week is umpire Jim Joyce, who cost pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game with a blown call at first base. While this will surely go down in history as one of sport's all-time great fuck-ups, Joyce is far from the first person to screw up at a crucial moment.

BP decides to do it quick and dirty

You're a massive corporation with an offshore oil drilling operation at high-pressure depths in one of the most important watersheds in the world. Maybe this isn't the right time to do it on the cheap? But that's what British Petroleum did 46 days ago. BP used less cement than was needed because it wanted faster access to the oil when it was ready to be tapped. A stitch in time would have saved 9 million fish.

Apple says no to Flash

Steve Jobs has been clear from the get-go that he thinks that Adobe's Flash sucks. Apple is also notorious for rejecting iPhone apps from third party companies for reasons that may seem arbitrary, but sometimes even border on censorship (a gay nightclub app was recently denied). And then there was the big litigious panic when a drunken employee left an iPhone prototype at a bar. All of this control-freak behavior has prompted the Feds to begin an investigation on Apple's software policies. Hey Steve, they play Monopoly in prison too.

Aruban authorities set Joren Van Der Sloot free

Everybody knew he killed Natalie Halloway in Aruba, but the third-world legal system in this Caribbean paradise let Joren Van Der Sloot walk. Now the Dutch punk has gone and done it again. While holidaying at a poker tournament, he left a dead Peruvian girl in his hotel room, which was found splattered with blood. You don't invite Jeffrey Dahmer over to dinner, and you shouldn't have let this swollen-headed playboy skip out, because it taught him exactly the wrong lesson. Her blood is on Aruba's hands.

Metallica loses Heavy Metal Grammy to Jethro Tull

If you want to find the precise moment when the TV award shows jumped the shark, it was when the Recording Academy awarded the first Heavy Metal Grammy to Jethro friggin' Tull over Metallica in 1989. Three years later, when Metallica finally won, drummer Lars Ulrich uttered the immortal line: "Thanks to Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year."

Burglars use permanent markers to draw on disguise

In the annals of dumb criminality, Matthew McNelly and Joey Miller earned a special place. Shortly before last Halloween (of all times of the year), these two do-it-yourself criminals from Iowa broke into an apartment. But what made them instant Internet stars was their decision to conceal their identities only with black permanent marker scribbled on their faces, an escapade lauded as the "worst disguise ever" after their inevitable arrests.


Ford debuts hot new Pinto

What could you buy for $11 in the '70s? A couple O'Jays LPs, five tickets to see the latest Dino de Laurentiis movie spectacle, a pretty nice zodiac-sign medallion--or a couple mechanical parts that would prevent one of the most popular cars in America from engulfing its passengers in a horrible gas-tank conflagration in the event of a low-speed rear-end collision. But that would push the cost of the Ford Pinto above Lee Iacocca's coveted economy-milestone $2,000 sticker price, so the parts were left out.

John McCain picks Sarah Palin as his running mate

It must have seemed like a great idea at first. Sarah Palin was charismatic, young, successful, virtually unknown and--let's be blunt--not bad on the eyes. But somewhere between Palin's epic fail interview with Katie and the verbatim reenactment of it on a Saturday Night Live skit, John McCain must have known that he'd sunk his own ship.

Publishers reject Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

When unknown British author J.K. Rowling completed her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, in 1995, her agent sent the manuscript to several publishers. Eight turned her down. The Harry Potter series has since sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. The eight buyers who sniffed at it must count their regrets with every penny.

U.S. Supreme Court picks George Bush over Al Gore

When five Supreme Court justices ordered Florida officials to stop counting votes, it's like they unplugged the instant-replay machine, spit tobacco juice into its circuits, and hurled it into the dugout. Joyce only cost us the third perfect game of the season--that's nothing compared to what Sandra Day O'Connor put the world through!

Bush declares war in Iraq for no reason

George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq, on the ultimately false premise of Iraq's alleged possession of nuclear and chemical weapons and ties to Al Qaeda, is easily among the worst bad calls in the history of the U.S. presidency. According to Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack, Bush was given a full briefing of the CIA's top-secret evidence against Saddam Hussein in December 2002. Bush's response: "This is the best we've got?" Yet two weeks later, according to Woodward, Bush made the decision to invade, resulting in seven years of war, the deaths of at least 100,000 Iraqis and 4,400 American soldiers, and an estimated cost of $845 billion. Oops.

Have any to add to our list? Add 'em in the comments below.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >