February 9, 2012 -- intro:
There is no question that Americans are frustrated with their elected officials, but the latest Gallup poll shows that frustration has reached a fever pitch, plummeting Congress to its lowest approval rating in history. Just 10 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, fewer than at any previous point in Gallup's nearly 40 years of polling.
With an approval rating that low, it is hard to find anything that is actually less popular than Congress.
In the nearly half a century-long history of Gallup polling, the only people or institutions that have been more unpopular than the current Congress are Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and Mark Fuhrman, a detective in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, said Gallup's Editor in Chief Frank Newport.
Here's a look at some of the things Americans like more than Congress:
quicklist:1 title: BP During the Oil Spill text:
At the height of the BP oil spill in 2010, while thousands of barrels of crude oil were streaming into the Gulf of Mexico daily, the BP oil company, which owned the gushing offshore rig, had a higher approval rating than Congress currently has.
A June 2010 Gallup poll shows that 16 percent of respondents approved of how BP was handling the spill, which went uncapped for two months.
quicklist: 2 title: Socialism text:
It's a label than many of Obama's critics have attempted to plaster on the president's re-election campaign like the scarlet A on Hester Prynne's dress. But judging by the latest polls, socialism is actually more popular than Congress.
Three times as many people have a positive view of socialism than have a positive view of Congress. According to a CBS/New York Times poll released last month, 33 percent of Americans view socialism positively.
quicklist: 3 title: Waterboarding text:
More people think waterboarding, where interrogators pour water over a prisoner's face so they feel like they are drowning, should be used as an interrogation tactic against suspected terrorists than support Congress.
According to a November CNN/ORC poll an even 50 percent of respondents said Waterboarding should be allowed. The same poll found that 31 percent of Americans do not think the practice is torture while 68 percent said it is torture.
quicklist: 4 title: Abortion text:
In a July ABC/Washington Post poll 19 percent of respondents supported abortion being legal "in all cases," nearly double the percentage of people who support the current Congress.
A slightly smaller percentage were on the opposite end of the spectrum, with 15 percent of respondents saying abortion should be outlawed in every circumstances.
quicklist: 5 title: President Nixon text:
In the midst of one of the greatest scandals in presidential history, President Richard Nixon had a higher approval rating that Congress currently has. A 1974 Gallup poll shows that 24 percent of Americans supported the president at the height of the Watergate scandal.
quicklist: 6 title: Santa Clause Non-Believers text:
More people in the United States have never believed in Santa Clause than currently put their faith in Congress. An AP/Gfk poll in December showed that 16 percent of Americans did not believe in Old Saint Nick as a child.
Put another way, roughly the same number of people believe or have believed in Santa as currently disapprove of Congress. Cue Congressional Scrooge/Grinch jokes…
quicklist: 7 title: Prime Minister of Greece text:
More than twice as many people approve of the job Greek leader George Papandreou did in 2011, the year his country plummeted into the worst debt crises in the Western world, than support the U.S. Congress.
Even after Papandreou resigned amid Greece's debt catastrophe, 21 percent of respondents worldwide still supported him, according to a worldwide Gallup poll conducted throughout 2011.
quicklist: 8 title: Occupy Wall Street text:
The groups representing outraged citizens on both ends of the political spectrum – Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party – both have more support than the current Congress.
An NBC/ Wall Street Journal poll in December showed 24 percent of respondents were supportive of the Occupy Wall Street movement and 27 percent said they considered themselves Tea Party supporters.
quicklist: 9 title: Paris Hilton text:
Reality TV star and heiress Paris Hilton is the least popular celebrity, but she is still more popular than Congress. An August Ipsos poll on celebrity popularity found that 60 percent of respondents had an unfavorable view of Hilton, making her comparatively popular compared to the 86 percent of people who said they disapprove of Congress.
Hilton and Charlie Sheen were the only two celebrities in the poll that were view more negatively than positively, falling below the likes of Brittany Spears and Kanye West, who both had a 45 percent favorability rate.
quicklist: 10 title: Banks During the Banking Crisis text:
Even amid the 2008 banking crisis, Americans had more confidence in banks than they do now in Congress. As the federal government poured billions of dollars into the Troubled Assets Relief Fund to bailout out failing banks, 18 percent of Americans said they were still confident in their banking institutions, according to a 2009 Gallup poll. That's nearly double the percentage of people who say they currently approve of the job Congress is doing.