Era: Early 2000s
It’s eyebrow-raising enough when a company’s CEO becomes vice president of the United States. Or when that company, Halliburton, starts receiving big contracts due to a war pushed by that vice president, Dick Cheney. But when that company begins charging the government for $600 hammers and $1,000 toilet seats, a national scandal is brewing. Besides the war profiteering, Halliburton has also caught flak for environmental controversies, from a toxic vapor cloud that formed over Farmington, New Mexico, after chemicals escaped from a tank, to being in charge of the cement job on the BP oil rig that is leaking. “Ironically, they may emerge as a good guy in the BP oil spill for having urged more safeguards, which BP rejected,” notes Stephen Shepard, former editor in chief of BusinessWeek and one of our panelists.
Correction: Halliburton was responsible for a toxic vapor cloud over Farmington, New Mexico, not Farmingham as reported in an earlier version of this caption.