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Enron may be the latest and one of the largest business blowups in recent history, but corporate scandals are a near annual occurrence. Three years ago, it was big tobacco lawsuits. Though a majority of Americans felt cigarette manufacturers should not be held responsible for their customers' deaths, a 1999 ICR/ABC News poll found that Democrats, young adults, lower income earners and Westerners were the groups most likely to hold tobacco companies liable for smokers' health problems.

In 2000, tires were the target. Before the Firestone/Bridgestone tire safety scandal involving Ford Explorers, Americans had a high opinion of the Ford Motor Company. In 1999, Ford was No. 1 on the list of best brands tracked by Harris Interactive. Ford seems to have suffered barely a dent: In a 2000 Zogby poll, only 6 percent of consumers felt Ford was most to blame.

Americans tend to like business more than they like business leaders. In a December 2001 Harris Interactive poll, trust in business leaders had fallen since 1998 from 49 percent to 43 percent — lower than trust in journalists and on a par with members of Congress.


More young people than old people blame bad tires on the government, though most people of all ages say the tire company is at fault.

18-24 76% 3% 17% 4%
25-34 67% 10% 1% 18%
35-54 72% 6% 2% 14%
55-69 60% 7% 8% 19%
75+ 54% 4% 9% 22%
Total 66% 6% 5% 17%
Source: Zogby, 9/20/00
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