Worth a Salute

David Petraeus May Have Let Us Down but Here Are Generals to Embrace

From General Motors and General Mills to the General Lee, here are other good soldiers worth a salute.

Paul Sancya / AP Photo

General Motors

In 2010, General Motors was on life support. But thanks to the auto bailout, the company is once again rolling—in money. Two years after its IPO, GM has been profitable for 11 straight quarters, banking $16 billion in cash. Here’s hoping that what’s good for General Motors is once again good for America.

Jim Mone / AP Photo

General Mills

Is there a single American whose cupboard doesn’t contain a General Mills product? Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Green Giant, and the almighty Cheerios are just a few of the brands that have made General Mills a Fortune 500 company over the past 125 years. And just this month, General Mills lived up to its military-sounding name when it was named a “Yellow Ribbon company” for its support of our troops and veterans.

Cliff Owen / AP Photo

Surgeon General

Attorney General Eric Holder is busy defending himself against scandals, including Operation Fast and Furious. Meanwhile, the postmaster general, Patrick Donahue, wants to take away mail delivery on Saturday. Thankfully, the surgeon general still has our back—or any other body part that’s ailing us. Dr. Regina Benjamin became the nation’s 18th surgeon general in 2009 and her mission has been a personal one—her father died of high blood pressure and diabetes, and like Michelle Obama, she has spoken out against obesity. And, yes, she has a military rank, though it’s not general—Dr. Benjamin is a vice admiral in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

General Lee

Ever since it started outrunning Boss Hogg’s men on The Dukes of Hazzard, the 1969 Dodge Charger known as “The General Lee” entered the pantheon of great American cars, which includes the Batmobile and Herbie the Love Bug. Adding to its mystique recently, the most renowned General Lee used in the series—the one that jumped the police car in the opening credits—was bought by 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson. The good ol’ boy golfer even drives the car to tournaments.

Patrick Green / Newscom

Washington Generals

Founded in 1952 by Red Klotz, the Washington Generals have played noble straight men to the Harlem Globetrotters for decades—and lost mightily in the process. But in January 1971, the Generals (playing as their alter egos, the New Jersey Reds) pulled off a dramatic upset and defeated the Globetrotters 100-99, snapping a 2,499-game losing streak. Children in the stands cried that day, and the Generals haven’t won since. But they’re due.

General Foods

Long before there were three Starbucks on every block, General Foods International transported coffee drinkers to exotic locales with its flavored instant coffees. Remember that waiter in the Parisian café? Jean-Luc! These days, General Foods International has dropped “coffee” from the company name because its product line now includes chai tea.

Charles Sykes / AP Photo

Roastmaster General

For decades, entertainer George Jessel was known as the Toastmaster General for his incomparable abilities as a master of ceremonies. Today his comedic heir is the roastmaster general, Jeffrey Ross. The insult comic regularly skewers celebrities at roasts for the Friars Club and Comedy Central. And when Charlie Sheen went on tour to rehabilitate his image, it was Ross who burned him nightly on stage. “Charlie,” Ross famously joked, “if you’re winning, then something’s wrong with the fucking scoreboard.”

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

General Hospital

All My Children, Guiding Light, Search for Tomorrow, and other soap operas have gone on to that great DVR in the sky, but General Hospital is still alive and breathing heavily. Currently the longest-running American soap, GH will celebrate its 50th anniversary next April. Or will the show get into a terrible car accident and suffer amnesia? Stay tuned.