In the coronavirus crisis, the cream falls to the bottom rather than rising to the top.
Topping the Johns Hopkins University data charts on the Covid-19 pandemic represents utter failure for a major power.
• Covid 19 coronavirus: World economies plunge while hopes rest on treatment
• Covid 19 coronavirus: World Health Organisation denies report that China sought to delay global virus warning
• Covid 19 coronavirus: World economy predicted to shrink by 3.2pc
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Global economic pain sets in
It means those countries' governments have been unable to respond to the challenge with competence and a responsible outlook, despite advantages of wealth and expertise.
They have been unable to adequately protect their citizens. Their people have suffered more than what could have been. A disaster of poor values, judgment, leadership, planning, and organisation has occurred.
The tables of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths have changed as the pandemic has spread.
Apart from China, where the virus first appeared, countries had time to prepare for their own outbreak. Iran, Italy, and Spain for a while were the key areas of concern outside Asia. Some countries had mitigating factors, such as Italy, with its older vulnerable population. Quite a few countries' case and death numbers should be taken with a mound of salt.
But, nearly six months on, the four countries currently at the top in confirmed case numbers are there by no accident. The United States, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom all have political systems under pressure, and a populist leader in charge.
As the US headed towards the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus dead over the Memorial Day long weekend, its commander-in-chief shamelessly played golf in Virginia and his campaign planned to fly "Keep America Great" banners across eight beaches.
President Donald Trump, who was slow to prepare for a US outbreak and whose China and Europe travel bans proved ineffective, is in media-distraction, damage-limitation, and finger-pointing mode, with his prime focus on his political ratings in election year.
With 1.6 million cases, Covid-19 has exploited America's sprawling dysfunction: its partisan divide, its economic inequality, its broken health system and incompetent, cynical leadership in Washington.
In Britain, where cases number 260,916 and the death toll is 36,875, the political decay is just as obvious.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is battling to save his spin doctor, Dominic Cummings. The Brexit campaign architect reportedly breached restrictions by travelling 425km from London to Durham as his wife had coronavirus symptoms in late March to seek child-care help from extended family.
Many people observing the rules have made sacrifices such as not being able to be with dying loved ones and other family members. Health workers have stayed in care homes with residents, or away from their families to avoid infecting them. This is a damaging "one rule for me, one rule for them" scandal involving those who make the rules.
Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland tweeted: "Dominic Cummings made his name denouncing what he regarded as a hypocritical Westminster elitism contemptuous of ordinary people. Now he is the face of it."
The Tory Government's response to Covid-19 has been slow and muddled. Johnson's approval ratings are sliding just as new opposition leader Keir Starmer impresses.
The pandemic illustrates the dangers of Britain's decision to walk away from the safety of the European Union, just as doubts about the global leadership of the US and China harden.
In Brazil, which now has more than 22,000 deaths from 363,200 cases, President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the coronavirus and opposed state lockdowns. Two health ministers have resigned. Hundreds of mass graves have been dug. Brazil has overtaken Vladimir Putin's Russia, which has 344,481 cases and 3541 deaths.
With Covid-19, the top ratings aren't what Trump and co would want them to be.