Year in Review: What Were They Thinking?

From political gaffes to misbehaving athletes, 2010 was a wild ride for some.

ByABC News
December 29, 2010, 12:41 PM

Dec. 29, 2010— -- This year could have been called the "Year of the Witch." Or maybe the year of "I am not a witch."

One-time Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's television ad attempting to diffuse the controversy over her decade-old statement that she dabbled in witchcraft only fanned the flames and led to her opening statement being one of the top quotes of 2010.

Considered by many to be something of a Sarah Palin-lite, O'Donnell's oft-discussed statements -- she also questioned whether the Constitution really did ban separation of church and state -- drew comparisons to the former Alaska governor.

Palin herself raised eyebrows in 2010, perhaps most notably after she coined the phrase "refudiate" when tweeting about the mosque planned near Ground Zero in New York City. "Refudiate" later became the Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year.

Palin also used Twitter this year to discuss the Gulf Coast being "ravished" by the oil spill.

But she wasn't the only politician to misstep this year. U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hastily apologized after firing department official Shirley Sherrod following the release of a small video clip of Sherrod telling NAACP members how she once hesitated to help a white farmer.

The clip, released by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, only showed part of Sherrod's speech, however, and once the NAACP released the rest, the USDA saw, along with the rest of the nation, that Sherrod used that example to show how she realized it wasn't about race, but about being poor.

"This was my decision and it was a decision that I regret having made. ... I didn't take the time I should have," Vilsack said in his apology. "As a result, a good woman has gone through a very difficult time."

Sherrod later declined his offer to reinstate her at the USDA.

Racial tensions were further inflamed by a Florida pastor who jumped on the growing fervor over the so-called Ground Zero mosque by publicizing his plan to hold a "Burn the Koran" ceremony at his church.

Terry Jones made national headlines and reviled many Muslims after he threatened to burn a pile of the holy books as a message, he said, to extremists. He called off the demonstration on Sept. 11 and traveled to New York where he unsuccessfully attempted to schedule a meeting with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the mosque scheduled to be built in lower Manhattan.

But 2010 wasn't just a year of somber head-scratchers.