The Center for Consumer Freedom is pleased to announce our 5th Annual Tarnished Halo Awards. Each year we shine the spotlight on America’s most notorious animal-rights zealots, environmental scaremongers, celebrity busybodies, self-anointed “public interest” advocates, trial lawyers, and other food and beverage activists who claim to “know what’s best for you.” This year’s winners:

“If an Old Dog Won’t Learn New Tricks, Inject It with Lethal Drugs” Award
Given to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for the combined 42 felony animal-cruelty charges brought against two PETA employees. Adria Hinkle and Andrew Cook allegedly killed dozens of dogs, puppies, and kittens in the back of a PETA-owned van, less than an hour after promising to find them good homes. Police say they saw Hinkle and Cook tossing the dead animals into a trash dumpster.

“Detroit’s Poor Should Pay More” Award
Given to Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for proposing a new tax on fast food. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, has been known to spend hundreds of taxpayer dollars on much fancier meals — which wouldn’t be subject to his new tax scheme.

“Not in My Backyard” Award
Given to environmentalist lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose fight for “green” energy apparently stops as soon as the results might spoil his view. Kennedy penned an irate New York Times op-ed in December, condemning the proposed building of wind turbines around the Nantucket Sound. While Kennedy criss-crosses the country in his jet-fuel-burning private plane stumping for alternative energy sources, he wants an exception for his own backyard. Greenpeace spokesman Chris Miller was not pleased, saying: “It’s about a vision for healthy oceans, not the view from the Kennedy compound.”

“First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All The Doctors” Award
Given to Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a California trauma surgeon who advocates the “political assassination” of medical researchers whose search for AIDS and cancer cures requires the use of lab rats. When asked during a U.S. Senate eco-terrorism hearing in October if he was indeed advocating murder, Vlasak insisted that killing other doctors “would be a morally justifiable solution” — adding later: “These are not innocent lives.”

“Talk Out of One Side, Eat with Other” Award
Given to California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, for spreading needless fears about a food that he eats. Lockyer has made it a goal to push warning labels frightening Californians out of eating foods containing trace amounts of a chemical called acrylamide. Science suggests that people can eat their weight in an acrylamide-containing food (such as bread, olives, or French fries) — every day, for life — without putting their health at risk. Still, Lockyer has bravely vowed to go on eating fries, regardless of his own fearmongering.

“Lawyers Gorging on Pop Torts” Award
Given to the Public Health Advocacy Institute’s Richard Daynard for his defense of greed. A lawyer and academic, Daynard appeared on MSNBC in December to defend the tobacco-style lawsuit he is readying against soft drink companies. When host Tucker Carlson asked him why he was seeking massive payments for his legal services — if this is really “all about the kids” — Daynard replied: “Lawyers have to eat, too.” Daynard made more than $1 million from tobacco settlements, and actually sued his former law partners for $150 million more.

“The Violent-Minded Professor” Award
Given to University of Texas-El Paso philosophy professor Steven Best, the animal-rights evangelist who was banned from entering Great Britain and removed from the chairmanship of his department this year. Best openly supports the domestic-terrorist Animal Liberation Front and co-founded the North American Animal Liberation Press Office along with animal-rights assassination cheerleader Jerry Vlasak (another Tarnished Halo recipient this year).

“Take with Many Grains of Salt” Award
Given to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) for proposing a new federal bureaucracy in the form of a “Division of Salt Reduction.” CSPI’s plan includes extra taxes on salty foods, warning labels on salt canisters, and (perhaps most in-saltingly of all) government limits on how much salt certain foods may contain.

“Bottom Feeders” Award
Given to Chicago Tribune reporters Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne for whipping up needless fears about mercury in fish with a series of breathless “investigative” articles in December. The Tribune systematically glossed over the fact that the government’s “limits” for mercury in fish have a ten-fold safety factor built in. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, absolutely zero Americans have enough mercury in their bodies to constitute a legitimate health concern.

“Tax First, Ask Questions Later” Award
Given to Yale’s Kelly Brownell for advocating a Twinkie Tax that even he is not sure would work. Brownell has advocated a $1.5 billion “Nutrition Superfund” fueled by extra sin taxes on certain foods, but he admitted on CNN in May that when it comes to a fat tax’s effectiveness: “We don’t know, because we’re not sure how taxes would work … We don’t have evidence to know whether a tax like this would affect the American diet or not.”