For the Third Year in a Row, Michael Jackson is Named Most Foolish American in a National Survey - Scott Peterson, Martha are Close Behind

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In the Sixth Annual April Fool's Day Survey, entertainers top the charts. But 64% of Americans admit they've been fools too -- up 12% from 2004.

To the surprise of practically no one, pop entertainer Michael Jackson was named America's Most Foolish Individual for 2005, according to a telephone survey of 1,030 individuals released in advance of April Fool's Day by New York-based public relations consultant Jeff Barge.

This was the third consecutive year that Jackson was named to No. 1 spot on that list. "It's getting hard to envision an America in which Michael Jackson isn't the most foolish individual," says Mr. Barge.

In the Sixth Annual April Fool's Day Poll, a whopping 80% of those surveyed said the singer had "done something foolish" in the past year, making this the third year in a row that Mr. Jackson has captured the No. 1.

The survey is conducted with the assistance of Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton, N.J., and has a margin of error of 3%. The survey has been conducted on an annual basis since the year 2000, and has received coverage in leading American newspapers including the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Miami Herald, the Houston Chronicle, and the Wall Street Journal.

Coming in second in this year's survey was convicted murderer Scott Peterson, with 68% of those surveyed saying he had "done something foolish" in the past year. In third place was The Average American: 64% of those surveyed admitted that they themselves had "done something foolish" in the past year. "According to the survey, Americans are 12% more foolish than they were just one year ago," notes Mr. Barge. Last year, only 57% of those surveyed admitted they themselves had "done something foolish" in the past year.

Martha Stewart, recently released from federal prison and now confined to home imprisonment with an ankle bracelet to track her movements, came in fourth this year, with 59% of the country saying she had "done something foolish."

Just a few votes behind in the No. 5 spot (also 59%) was model/television personality Paris Hilton, whose book, "Confessions of an Heiress," made the New York Times best-sellers' list in 2004. Last year, Hilton was in the No. 8 spot. Among her other exploits, Ms. Hilton became well known after the release on the Internet of a pornographic tape that she was featured in. She now has her own perfume, and a chain of nightclubs is being launched worldwide that bear her name.

"Over the years, Paris Hilton has pulled every trick possible to get herself on this list -- most of them involving various body parts," notes Mr. Barge. "Only her toes have gone unused."

In sixth place was American President George W. Bush (56%), while singer Janet Jackson (52%) – Michael's sister – took the No 7 spot, as Americans refused to overlook a "wardrobe malfunction" that bared her breast to millions of Americans during the Super Bowl game of 2004.

Actor Robert Blake (46%), recently found innocent of the murder of his wife, was in the eighth spot, with CBS anchorman Dan Rather (43%), who delivered a rather misleading national news report on the eve of the presidential election last year, at No. 9. Lip-synching singer Ashlee Simpson (42%) and baseball's steroid-using Mike McGuire (42%) rounded out the Top 10.

Surprisingly, a number of well-known celebrities currently involved in unusual predicaments found themselves totally out of the money this year.

Rapper L'il Kim, convicted of withholding evidence in a New York City street murder she witnessed, was found to have "done something foolish" this year by only 35% of the American public, putting her at only No. 11 on the list.

Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, who resigned the governorship after his male Israeli lover threatened to go public with their affair, was judged foolish by only 33% of Americans.

The 200-pound-plus actress Kirstie Alley, star of the new cable hit "Fat Actress," got only a 33% foolishness vote, as did National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman (33%), who presided over the cancellation of an entire season of professional hockey in the United States this year.

Former MCI CEO Bernie Ebbers - a jury recently ruled he played a key role in the multibillion-dollar bankruptcy of that long distance company despite his Sargent Schulz-inspired "I know nothing" defense strategy - got only a 31% vote in the survey, and actor Brad Pitt, who is divorcing his wife of 4.5 years, the beautiful but non-childbearing Jennifer Anniston, received only a 28% foolishness rating from the American public.

Even cartoon characters found it impossible to hit their numbers this year. When Marge Simpson's single sister Patty Bouvier announced her lesbianism on the highly rate Fox animated show "The Simpsons" earlier this year and married her female lover on that show, only 23% of Americans were sufficiently motivated to say she had "done something foolish." And when it was revealed that conservative White House correspondent-blogger James Guckert – who had full access to all presidential press briefings - was also apparently working as a male escort, just 21% of Americans felt Guckert had "done something foolish."

Former Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher – who resigned after a torrid love affair with a female co-worker conducted via corporate e-mail was made public – got equally short shift in the survey, tying the Pitt-abandoned Jennifer Aniston with a meagre 21% rating. Ironically, Aniston is currently filming a movie called "The Break-Up."

Below is the complete list for 2005:

1. Michael Jackson 80%

2. Scott Peterson 68%

3. The Average American 64%

4. Martha Stewart 59%

5. Paris Hilton 59%

6. Pres. George W. Bush 56%

7. Janet Jackson 52%

8. Actor Robert Blake 46%

9. CBS Anchorman Dan Rather 43%

10. Singer Ashlee Simpson 42%

11. Baseball's Mike McGuire 42%

12. Rap Star L'il Kim 35%

13. New York Governor Jim McGreevey 33%

14. "Fat Actress" Kirstie Alley 33%

15. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman 33%

16. Former MCI CEO Bernie Ebbers 31%

17. Actor Brad Pitt 28%

18. Former Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland 23%

19. Marge Simpson's sister Patty Bouvier from "The Simpsons." 23%

20. Former Boeing President Harry Stonecipher 23%

21. Jennifer Aniston 21%

22. Former White House Blogger and male escort James Guckert 21%

"To quote Mark Twain, ‘The First of April is the day we remember what we are like the other 364 days of the year,' says Mr. Barge. The telephone poll is the sixth annual April Fools poll conducted by Mr. Barge, a New York-based public relations consultant who has in the past represented clients such as E- the People.com, Interactive Meeting Solutions, the Lama Surya Das, Chicago's Round Table Group, Pilot Pen, and numerous best-selling authors.

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