Just think of the really bad ideas we have had to endure and overcome over the years. The Edsel, leisure suits, Jerry Springer, mood rings and wine in a box come to mind.
But just when you think there couldn't be any more dumb ideas, when you believe that mankind has run the gamut on stupidity, a new crop appears.
As a public service, therefore, I offer the Worst Ideas of 2009, an entirely personal and nonscientific survey of people and their schemes that left us shaking our collective heads and proves there is no statute of limitations on dumb deeds done daily:
Worst reality show ideas: A tie between Octomom and Balloon Boy.
Nadya Suleman is the single mother of six who thought it would be a good idea to bring eight more children into the world through in-vitro fertilization. Just the thing you want to do when you're out of a job and on public assistance. For this act, she receives more media coverage than World War II. A British TV firm has signed a contract with her for a reality show. With any luck, it won't be shown in the U.S.
In the meantime, Richard and Mayumi Heene decided to compete with Nadya for bad parent of the year when they claimed their son, Falcon, was carried away by a balloon shaped like a flying saucer in Ft. Collins, Colorado. After a three-hour flight that covered 50 miles, caused Denver International Airport to be shut down and involved the National Guard, several police jurisdictions and the worldwide media at a cost of some $2 million, it was discovered the incident was a hoax. It's purpose? To make the family "more marketable for future media interests," according to authorities.
The couple pleaded guilty last month.
Runner up: "Jon and Kate Plus Eight Get Divorced."
Worst idea by a married man: Tie between Tiger Woods and Mark Sanford. Tiger, perhaps the most recognized sports icon in the world, could drive a golf ball 350 yards but had trouble getting his SUV out of a driveway. Apparently, the pressure of winning a golf tournament is nothing compared to being chased by your wife wielding a three iron after discovering you've been unfaithful.
Although Tiger has always been presented as a squeaky clean family values guy, the number of women he allegedly had on his speed dial could have filled the Los Angeles phone book.
Tiger's main benefactor is Nike, whose slogan is "just do it." Apparently, Tiger took it literally.
Not to be outdone, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford not only cheated on his wife, but came off as a sort of a romantic Keystone Kop in the process. Sanford, mentioned as presidential material, disappeared for 18 days in June, while explaining he was "hiking the Appalachian Trail."
Turns out he was Flying Down to Rio to spend time with his "soul mate," a 43-year-old divorced mother of two. (Sample e-mail from Mark to Maria: "...you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses ... I love your tan lines ... I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night's light ..."). To this day, he has refused to resign from office even after being censured and bidding goodbye to his wife and four sons who packed up and left him. Runner up: David Letterman who announced his infidelities between jokes.
Worst food idea: Domino's pasta in a bread bowl (about 1,500 calories). Honorable mention: Chili's Smokehouse Bacon Triple-the-Cheese Big Mouth Burger with Jalapeno Ranch Dressing (2,040 calories).
Worst beverage idea: Utopia Beer. This Sam Adams product is 27 percent alcohol by volume and $150 a bottle. Runner Up: Vio, brought to you by Coca-Cola, a blend of skim milk, sparkling water, and 27 grams of sugar. Carbonated skim milk? Cheers.
Worst political idea: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome running for governor. This bright young light from Bombast by the Bay couldn't even knock poor old Jerry Brown out of the prelims.
Maybe it was his support of gay marriage by extorting, "It's going to happen, whether you like it or not" (which is probably what the deckhands on the Titanic said) or his affair with the wife of his campaign manager. His worst mistake was remaining a mystery in Southern California where all the voters live.
Runner up: The Tea Party "patriots" who showed up armed and dangerous at Town Halls across the country, loudly shouting down elected officials and all who disagreed with them. And they called President Obama a Nazi?