I spent some time over the weekend trying and failing to meet Jim Fallows's challenge to name a public figure who flopped more spectacularly than BP CEO Tony Hayward. Best I could come up with is John Thain, the former Merrill Lynch CEO who spent $1.2 million on a lavish renovation of his personal office (including a $35,000 antique commode), while his firm was being bailed out by taxpayers. But Thain's transgressions were par for the course for a Wall Street CEO; Hayward is breaking new ground with every utterance. So I'm stumped.
But this exercise did clear up the nagging sense I've had for awhile that Hayward reminds me of someone: I realized he reminds me of a character from last year's hilarious bureaucratic farce "In the Loop," specifically the bumbling British official portrayed by Tom Hollander (who faintly resembles Hayward). Here's a trailer featuring a characteristic foot-in-mouth episode that can now be called Haywardian in its level of publicly self-inflicted damage (Hollander is the "To walk the road of peace..." character):