The criminal charges against Kenneth Lay, the former chairman of Enron, were unveiled yesterday. His defense, according to attorney Michael Ramsey, is that he "didn't have any idea of the depth of the problem."

This is not the first time in history that the Big Guy apparently was uninformed.

The list probably includes:

"What Russian winters?" -- Napoleon Bonaparte.

"Hydrogen is flammable?" -- the pilot of the Hindenburg.

"There are no icebergs in the North Atlantic this time of year." -- the captain of the Titanic.

"She's 14?" -- Jerry Lee Lewis.

"He's 14?" -- Michael Jackson.

"If as a matter of daily routine I had been reading and reacting to the newspaper's published corrections as closely and quickly as I should have, I would have noticed Jayson's pattern of playing fast and loose with the facts and made inquiries." -- Howell Raines, former executive editor of the New York Times.

"Guns for hostages?" -- Ronald Reagan.

"I was out of the loop." -- George H.W. Bush

"That's sex?" -- Bill Clinton.

"A whiff of grapeshot from the Royal Navy and these brigands will run back to their farms." -- George III.

"What, no flowers?" -- Paul Wolfowitz.

"How many Indians?" -- Gen. George Custer.

And, of course:

"Don't worry, it's a slam-dunk." -- George Tenet

-- Joel Garreau, with staff contributions

Former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay, discovering "the depth of the problem" by way of a federal indictment. The Hindenburg and the Titanic: What you don't know can hurt.