April Fool's Day Survey: For the Fourth Year in a Row, Michael Jackson is Named Most Foolish American – Dick Cheney, Paris Hilton Are Close Behind

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In the Seventh Annual April Fool’s Day Survey, politicians top the charts. But 50% of Americans admit they’ve been fools too – down dramatically from 64% in 2005.

Fighting off a strong last minute challenge from an American politician who shot a friend in the face on a hunting trip, pop entertainer Michael Jackson was named America’s Most Foolish Individual for 2006, according to a random telephone survey of 1,045 individuals released in advance of April Fool's Day by well-known New York-based public relations consultant Jeff Barge.

This was the fourth consecutive year that Jackson was named to No. 1 spot on that list. "And he hasn't even been in the country," says Mr. Barge, who notes that Jackson was last spotted in Dubai shopping in a market wearing woman's clothing.

In the Seventh Annual April Fool's Day Poll, a whopping 69% of those surveyed said the singer had "done something foolish" in the past year, making this the fourth year in a row that Mr. Jackson has captured the No. 1 spot.

The second spot in this year's survey ended up as a tie between American vice president Dick Cheney, who recently shot a friend in the face during a hunting trip, and celebrity socialite Paris Hilton, a member of the well-known family of hoteliers; 59% of Americans feel that Mr. Cheney and Ms. Hilton did "something foolish” in the past year.

"Michael Jackson seems to have a lock on the No. 1 spot for the foreseeable future," says Mr. Barge. "If Mr. Cheney's actions weren't enough to oust him, it's hard to imagine what could."

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 newspapers around the world, including newspapers such as the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Miami Herald, the Houston Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal, and major newspapers in Australia and New Zealand as well.

American President George Bush came in third in the survey, with 57% of the country saying he had done something foolish. Five years ago, in the 2001 April Fool's Day survey, Mr. Bush received a foolishness rating of only 48%, meaning that Americans believe he has become 19% more foolish since then. (Similarly, Mr. Cheney received only a 20% foolishness rating in the 2001 survey; with his present score of 59%, his level of foolishness has increased by 195% in the past five years, statistically speaking.)

In fourth place was a newcomer to the survey, couch-jumping actor Tom Cruise, with 54% of the country believing he has acted foolishly in the past year.

The number 5 spot was a tie as well, with indicted Texas Congressman Tom Delay and singer Courtney Love both hitting at 41%. That beat Robert Blake's 38% rating by 3 percentage points, putting him in the No. 6 spot.

Falling off a horse was not sufficient to get the singer Madonna into the top rankings; she merited a foolishness quotient of only 32% this year. Nor were accusations of sleeping with a contestant enough to elevate "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul to a top spot; she got only a 35% foolishness rating among Americans.

Oprah's accusations of racism against the tony Hermes fashion house for failing to let her shop in its Paris store after hours scored her only a 24% rating, barely qualifying her for No. 14. Also out of the money in the No. 15 spot was best-selling author James Frey, who scored only a 26% foolishness level for allegedly fictionalizing his best-selling memoir, "A Million Little Pieces." Mr. Frey currently resides in France. Model Kate Moss -- who is not even an American -- still managed to garner a 26% foolishness rating as well.

According to the survey, 50% of Americans admitted that they themselves had done something foolish, down from a high of 64% in the previous year’s survey. "As a nation, America is obviously being much more careful," noted Mr. Barge. "When traveling abroad, for example, many of us now wear Maple Leafs on our backpacks. Things have cooled down dramatically from the wildly reckless year of 2005."

The full results are as follows:

1. Michael Jackson/69%

2. Dick Cheney/59%

3. Paris Hilton/59%

3. George Bush/57%

4. Tom Cruise/54%

5. Tom Delay/41%

6. Courtney Love/41%

7. Robert Blake/38%

8. Paula Abdul/35%

9. rapper L'il Kim/33%

10. Madonna/32%

11. lobbyist Jack Abramoff/32%

12. model Kate Moss/27%

13. comedian Dave Chapelle/29%

14. author James Frey/26%

15. Oprah/24%

"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 seventh annual April Fools poll conducted by Mr. Barge, a well-known New York-based public relations consultant who has in the past work with individuals and companies such as E- the People.com, Interactive Meeting Solutions, the Lama Surya Das, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chicago's Round Table Group, Phyllis Diller, Pilot Pen, and numerous best-selling authors.


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