Hall of Shame

Don't let the door hit you on your way out, Gary.

Which might be the stuff of plenty of Mothers-We'd-Like-to-Fuck movies, but it's also a crime, as cops pointed out after one of her young pals spilled the beans and Johnson finally came in for questioning. She'd never been very popular in high school, she told them, and she just wanted to be liked by the kids. She wanted to be a "cool mom."

In November, Judge Peter Weir sentenced her to a very cold thirty years in jail -- a stiff sentence heavily weighted by the fact that Johnson had given her daughter meth for a little before-school pick-me-up, but not even taking into account an incident in which Johnson let a fourteen-year-old kid drive her car -- resulting in a crash that landed Johnson, two kids and the future NASCAR star in a world of hurt.

"A cool mom provides a safe environment for her children and their friends," Weir said at sentencing. "You provided drugs. A cool mom provides advice and guidance. You provided beer and hard liquor. A cool mom provides love. You provided sex."

Ethan Wenberg

In a year spilling over with accusations of predatory sexual behavior by priests, coaches, principals and playground supervisors, Cool Mom tops the list of Mothers We'd Like to Lock Up. And she also rates a footnote in the annals of feminism: No one can say that the law uses a double standard when sentencing female perps.

Ward Churchill

In January 2005, Ward Churchill was the least of CU's worries. The tenured professor, head of the school's ethnic-studies department, had a shaky academic and ethnic pedigree, but he was also popular with students. Any public notoriety stemmed from beating his own drum at Denver's annual Columbus Day shenanigans, when Churchill and the rest of the state's usual activist suspects would protest the genocidal explorer, get arrested and then get off.

But then came a scheduled speaking engagement at Hamilton College, which inspired a student journalist to actually read the essay Churchill had written immediately after 9/11, "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," which seemed to equate victims of the terrorist attacks with Adolf Eichmann.

CU had already survived accusations that its football program used sex and alcohol to recruit attractive prospects, had survived President Betsy Hoffman's ill-advised definition of the word "cunt" as a "term of endearment" in a deposition in the Title IX lawsuit charging CU with a sexually hostile environment. But that was nothing compared to how hostile everyone got over Churchill's continued employment at Colorado's flagship educational institution.

On TV with his buddy Bill O'Reilly, Governor Bill Owens called for Churchill's "termination." Instead, it was Hoffman who finally gave up the ghost, resigning the post of president in favor of a quiet, calm job on the CU faculty. Where Churchill is still among her colleagues, despite accusations that he plagiarized both artwork and educational achievements, and with his own legal actions pending against the university.

If anyone's still there.

Gary Barnett

The University of Colorado headed our 2004 Hall of Shame. But as 2005 winds to a close, there's almost no one left to kick around there besides Ward Churchill. The recruiting scandal took down athletic director Dick Tharp and chancellor Richard Byyny last year; continued hostilities claimed Hoffman this past spring; and in December, the last of the four horsemen of this particular apocalypse, Gary Barnett, was finally out.

Barnett resigned four days before a state audit of the CU football program was released, taking a fast $3 million with him. According to his most recent contract, signed in 2002, Barnett could have lost his $2 million retention "incentive" for any number of sins. Say, for example, tossing money meant for a football camp at women's shoes. Or tossing a woman employee aside when she accused one of his players of sexual assault. Or tossing off a throwaway line to the media about how female kicker Katie Hnida wasn't just "awful," she was "a girl." But none of that affects this deal.

In order to finally get Barnett out of the way, CU tossed him a $3 million bone.

But at least that means we won't have him to kick around in next year's Hall of Shame. Gary Barnett is permanently retired from this spot.

If only we could say the same about Barnett and college football.

Better luck next year.

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