In the same year that a film about a stammering British king won the Best Picture Oscar, another UK misfit, BP, now stands on the precipice of claiming another precious piece of Americana: The Golden Poo. But that’s only if the oily Brits can wrestle the trophy out of the tenacious-but-incompetent grip of this nation’s least-favorite native son, Bank of America.
BANK OF AMERICA: HOMEGROWN & HALF-ASSED
With all of the bad banks out there these days, what could BofA have done that merits such hostility from the thousands of WCIA voters?
Much of the bank’s current image problem can be traced back to two acquisitions it made during the housing market collapse: Merrill Lynch and Countrywide.
In the fall of 2008, BofA saw an opportunity to become the world’s largest bank (according to assets) and swooped in to save a falling Merrill Lynch mere moments before the institution was set to go “splat!” on Wall Street.
Unfortunately, the bank — feeling the pressure from then Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson to get the deal done — took all of 48 hours to do its due diligence. Thus, the merger that was supposed to stop the domino effect caused by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, only served to put a lot of money in the pockets of Merrill’s top executives and forced BofA to make repeat visits to the TARP trough to keep it afloat. This episode of Frontline does a really great job of explaining the fiasco and detailing BofA’s place in the whole bank bailout bonanza.
That same shortsighted hunger for growth led BofA to purchase a failing Countrywide Financial earlier in 2008, completely disregarding the fact that the mortgage company and its curiously orange CEO were the subject of an FBI fraud investigation.
We all know by now that a number of the loans that BofA inherited from Countrywide turned out to be toxic and much of the paper trail for these mortgages is confused or filled with errors — a problem compounded by the hiring of “robosigners,” untrained people brought on to rubber-stamp the massive amount of mortgage paperwork.
In the end, it’s those people stuck with BofA mortgages that get screwed, as the bank continues to attempt foreclosures on people who aren’t behind on their payments or who don’t even have mortgages. And let’s not forget about the kidnapped parrots or seized houses filled with rotting fish.
BP: ANARCHY FROM THE UK
It might be misleading to think of BP as being so British, as much of what’s made the oil company so crappy stems from its expansion in recent decades via the purchase of American petroleum businesses Amoco and ARCO.
As a result of BP’s desire to expand and compete with ExxonMobil and other oilers, the company made massive cost cuts a part of its corporate culture. Alas, these cuts were made on essential things like plant upgrades and maintenance. Thus, BP has become the poster boy for refinery and pipeline disasters in recent years.
In 2005, BP dumped over 200,000 gallons of oil onto the ground in Alaska from a corroded pipeline that had been damaged because BP HQ had cut back on maintenance and hired unqualified inspectors. Staffers at the facility in Prudhoe Bay say much of the equipment there was meant to be taken offline in 1987, but BP won’t do that because it’s making too much of a profit the way things are.
That same year, 15 workers died and 170 were injured following an explosion and fire at the company’s refinery in Texas City, TX. In spite of warnings from the refinery’s manager, BP execs refused to upgrade equipment, meaning that critical sensors and alarms failed. Under oath, the BP suit in charge of refineries lied about not being warned about possible problems.
Texas City was in the news again last year when it was discovered that the plant had been releasing over half a million pounds of pollution into the air over the course of 40 days.
Of course the big BP story last year was the death of 11 workers on board the doomed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico and the subsequent environmental disaster.
So… now that you’ve seen evidence for both sides, which one will you choose?
THIS POLL CLOSES AT NOON ET ON SUNDAY, APRIL 17, SO BE SURE TO VOTE NOW!
RESULTS WILL BE POSTED ON MONDAY, APRIL 18 AT NOON ET.
SWEET 16 MATCH-UPS
*Bank of America vs. DirecTV
*Delta vs. Walmart
*Ticketmaster vs. Sony
*Capital One vs. JP Morgan Chase
*BP vs. Time Warner Cable
*WellPoint vs. Johnson & Johnson
*Comcast vs. Best Buy
*AT&T vs. Apple
ROUND ONE MATCH-UPS:
*Bank Of America Vs. Citi
*Dish Network Vs. DirecTV
*United/Continental Vs. Delta
*Walmart Vs. Gamestop
*Tickemaster Vs. PayPal
*Sony Vs. Dell
*Capital One Vs. American Express
*Wells Fargo Vs. Chase
*Toyota Vs. BP
*Time Warner Cable Vs. Facebook
*United Health Vs. Wellpoint
*CVS Vs. Johnson & Johnson
*Comcast Vs. Charter
*RadioShack Vs. Best Buy
*AT&T Vs. Verizon
*Apple Vs. Microsoft
This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2011 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. Keep track of all the goings on HERE.
See and print the entire WCIA 2011 bracket, here.