Who? President of the United States
The crime: Obama came into office promising sweeping change and pledging to make the United States a global climate leader. But last weekend, at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Singapore, world leaders dashed global hopes that a fully binding international legal agreement on climate change would happen next month. The new goal of the upcoming U.N. climate treaty at Copenhagen, they announced, would be to reach a "political" consensus about possible next steps. And they punted on the most difficult questions -- of national targets for greenhouse gas cuts, and who will pay for them -- into the future.
Obama's role in delivering the bad news was a sad spectacle, but not really a surprise. It marked the culmination of a year in which climate has all but slipped off the president's agenda. While a host of European leaders, from Gordon Brown to Angela Merkel, have publicly stated their intention to attend Copenhagen and committed to carbon reductions, Obama has stonewalled. Earlier this year the president traveled to the Danish capital to lobby (unsuccessfully) for Chicago's Olympic bid. But he hasn't committed to heading across the pond to lobby for the planet's future. Obama said he would only go to Copenhagen if his appearance would seal the deal -- the deal he just helped scuttle (an unhappy self-fulfilling prophecy). Plus, Obama's ambivalence has deflected pressure from two other big emitters: China and India.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images