The avalanche of criticism took its toll on Russell, who was filmed marching around a San Diego, Calif. street corner, ranting to passing traffic and pedestrians while naked. Russell's family would later reveal that he was suffering from "reactive psychosis." The diagnosis did not stop the public from lampooning Russell's actions, with South Park parodying the incident in an April episode.
Despite all the privacy that should come with running America's top spy agency, a very public scandal rocked the leader of the Central Intelligence Agency in late 2012.
Shortly after Election Day, David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA after acknowledging an extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, a reserve army officer who published a flattering biography about the four-star general earlier in the year.
The affair came to light after an investigation into E-mails Broadwell sent Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, allegedly harassing and warning her to stay away from Petraeus and General John Allen, the current U.S. commander in Afghanistan.
The affair had gone on over the course of 8 months, as Broadwell researched information for her book.
Both Petraeus and Broadwell are still being investigated in relation to the affair. The Pentagon is looking into whether Broadwell has allegedly mishandled classified information, while the CIA is investigating Petraeus' conduct to examine whether he may have used CIA resources to further his relationship with Broadwell.
If you predicted the phrases "bath salts" and "zombie apocalypse" would go hand-in-hand by the time 2012 closed, you probably should have spent some money on a Powerball ticket.
The frenzy of news surrounding bath salts began in May when a 31-year-old naked Miami, Fla. man was found chewing on the face of a homeless man. The incident, which was one of many that involved people exhibiting bizarre behavior, sparked national attention over the synthetic drug, despite the fact that no bath salts were found in the Florida assailant's system.
The drug, which sparks similar effects to that of crystal meth and LSD, also led to many dubbing the behavior as the beginning of a world ruled by zombies. The conversation grew to such a level that CDC had to issue a statement saying there are "no known viruses or conditions that would re-animate the dead."
Politicians quickly moved to combat the problem, with President Barack Obama signing a law in July outlawing synthetic drugs, including bath salts. However, it was shortly revealed after Obama signed the bill that the drug's makers are constantly finding new ways to skirt the law.
The top echelon of football was not immune to its own round of controversy in 2012. From player health to quality control, the man that oversees America's most popular sport took his share of licks over the course of the year.
Things took a bad turn for the NFL commissioner in March, when the league launched an investigation into the New Orleans Saints, finding that the team orchestrated a "bounty program," a plan to knock opposing players out of games for financial reward. Goodell suspended a number of Saints' players and coaches for portions of or the entirety of the 2012 season, decisions that were later reduced or vacated after a separate review by Goodell's predecessor in December.
The impetus behind the suspensions was Goodell's focus on player safety. The NFL has been under heavy scrutiny over the past few years as former players, including a number of whom committed suicide, have developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of multiple concussions during their playing days. The NFL was sued by more than 60 players in May, who claim the NFL did not properly protect them from concussions in years past. A study released in September did not help matters: it found that football players develop neurological diseases three times more frequently than the general population.
On the field, the first few weeks of the 2012 season were not a welcome distraction for Goodell. The NFL found itself in a bitter labor dispute with its officials, forcing the league to use replacement referees until a contract was reached. The officials, some of whom who previously worked in the Lingerie Football League, were severely unqualified to serve as replacements, causing headaches for players and coaches. The impasse came to a boiling point in late September when the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers after replacement officials incorrectly awarded a last-second touchdown to Seattle, despite video evidence that showed the play clearly ended in an interception. Two days after the controversial play, Goodell reached a labor agreement with the officials.