Funny Business with Jane Wells

Call of Shame!

Call of Shame

It's been a weird week, and we have a weird list of outrageously less-than-stellar performances in the world of business. Here are our nominees. Vote for your favorite in the poll below.


Michael Vick is an ex-con who served time for murdering dogs--not the most marketable athlete for potential sponsors hoping to appeal to a broad audience. However, this week it looked like one of the most image-conscious brands in sports was re-signing the Eagles quarterback--Nike. Really? Nike? Uh, no. Our Darren Rovellreports that Mike Principe of Vick's management team put his Nike-clad foot in his mouth when he announced that Vick and Nike were back on the same team. "Nike does not have a contractual relationship with Michael Vick," a Nike spokesperson said, adding that it has "agreed to supply product" to Vick like it does for other athletes not under contract. Perhaps the Vick team thought free shoes equaled a deal. I don't even think he should get free shoes.


As I blogged earlier this week, Target is already selling Christmas ornaments, three months before Christmas. I can't take it. I. Just. Can't. Take. It. Anymore.


Not a good week for GM. Roger Penske drove away from a deal to buy Saturn because he couldn't find a long-term manufacturer to build the cars, and that's the end of Saturn. GM's joint venture with Ebay ended because it didn't lead to sales. And GM's overall sales collapsed last month with the end of Cash for Clunkers, down 47.1. That was slightly worse than expected. Yes, it is still possible for GM to perform worse than expected.


Former Ebay CEO Meg Whitman bailed out of voting most of her life. The Sacramento Beereports that the Republican gubernatorial candidate didn't even register to vote until 2002, and still missed some major elections after that. Making matters worse, the Bee says Whitman earlier claimed she registered in 1998, which Whitman now says was "a mistake." Her stumbling responses to reporters' repeated questions only made matters worse.  Now she says, "I like many Americans was not as engaged as I should have been over the last 20 or 30 years. I was focused on raising a family, on my husband's career, we moved many, many times, and it is no excuse. My voting record, my registration record is unacceptable. There is no excuse for it." Let me just say that I raised a family, I supported my husband's career, and I've moved a few times, and I have never missed a major election (and I've only missed one minor election). Does that make me material for governor? No, but Whitman's right, she has no excuse.


Ok, this is the last time I'm nominating Bank of America for a while.  I know, enough already. But this week the bank got slapped with one of the largest class action shareholder lawsuits in history, led by the Ohio Attorney General, who is seeking billions of dollars in damages in the Merrill Lynch merger. Gee, who will bear the brunt of the damages? Shareholders, the same people suing the bank. CEO Ken Lewis was also named in the suit. And then he quit. Coincidentally.


The entertainment business is doing itself no favors falling all over itself to defend Roman Polanski. The Academy Award-winning director, arrested in Switzerland, has been on the lam for 31 years after admitting he raped a 13-year-old girl. To hear some in Hollywood tell it, it's as if the Swiss arrested Nelson Mandela. Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, and Pedro Almodovar are among those signing a petition supporting Polanski, who is being defended by everyone from Harvey Weinstein to Debra Winger. "He's a brilliant guy, and he made a little mistake 32 years ago," says Swiss filmmaker Otto Weisser. "What a shame for Switzerland." A little mistake? Yes, even the victim has forgiven Polanski and would like the whole thing to go away, but no one is above those law, no matter how brilliant he is, or how hard his life has been.


In what may be the political version of Tupac versus Notorious B.I.G., newly-installed Los Angeles resident Conan O'Brien dissed Newark, New Jersey this week. The host of NBC's "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" said, "The Mayor of Newark...wants to set up a citywide program to improve residents' health. The healthcare program would consist of a bus ticket out of Newark." That raised the ire of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who countered on YouTube, "We have a city on the rise."

After interviewing "enraged" local residents, Mayor Booker told Conan, "I'm officially putting you on the Newark, New Jersey 'no fly list'. Try JFK, buddy."

The East Coast/West Coast war of words continued as O'Brien then banned Hizzoner from Burbank airport, which led Mayor Booker to ban O'Brien from the entire state of New Jersey AND Newark's sister cities...which includes some place in Ghana. "We in New Jersey roll hard," the Mayor says. "We roll strong, and we roll together."

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