Not a funny year. The meltdown kept melting down, the collapsing markets kept collapsing, and the downsizing economy kept downsizing. Texas fared better than most states (see “California, disaster in”), but we weren’t immune. In October, the number of unemployed Texans topped one million. In November, the comptroller’s office announced that decreasing natural gas production, among other things, had caused the Rainy Day Fund to leak $1 billion. At some point we started hearing that we had finally hit bottom, which was great, until we realized that we were now . . . at the bottom. Yippee. The bottom. It was a year in which the top, whatever that is, felt very far away.
How to choose a Bum Steer of the Year in such a bummer of a year? We thought we had an answer in February, when U.S. marshals raided the Houston headquarters of Stanford Financial, the house-of-cards money-management firm of the knight from Mexia, Sir Allen Stanford. He spent two days holed up at a girlfriend’s house while we rubbed our hands together, imagining his pugnacious mug frowning out from our January cover. But then he surfaced, and as the story unfolded of his “massive ongoing fraud,” as the Securities and Exchange Commission put it (with gusto!), we began to worry. Ridiculous as his “outside wives,” gold helicopter, and fake British snobbery were, Stanford turned out to be more villain than clown. The sins were too serious. The victims too aggrieved. He didn’t make you want to laugh; he made you want to punch him in the face.
But not to worry. The year was young. Another candidate would come along. Sure