Boy, did the Business Press Maven have to up his meds when he read a recent editorial that came out in full support of backdating options. In fact, I don't think a business editorial has been more off-base since our ancestors were sharpening stones. ( Ask me sometime and I'll tell you how I really feel. )For those of you new to the planet, backdating options is the sleazy, shortsighted, demonic practice of giving executives the best cost basis possible on options -- after the fact. In other words, Mr. Money Bags Executive does not budge his stock an inch. But he is granted options, with the issue date established (retroactively) to coincide with a low point in the stock's past. Money for nothing, checks for free. Well, not exactly for free. There are plenty of side costs to this slick arrangement, at least for shareholders. The practice, as it was -- uh, practiced -- was probably legal, but maybe just because no lawmaker ever had an imagination dark enough to think that people would actually do something like this (if that doesn't tell you something, I don't know what will). In any event, the Justice Department and the Securities Exchange Commission have been investigating dozens of companies, and many have acknowledged the possibility of having to restate earnings. Apple ( AAPL), Home Depot ( HD), Microsoft ( MSFT), UnitedHealth Group ( UNH) and plenty of smaller companies such as Monster Worldwide ( MNST) and Marvell Technologies ( MRVL) have been embroiled in options-backdating controversies. In fact, so many companies have been identified by authorities, the media or themselves as offenders (of common decency if not the letter of the law) that there is probably not much danger in any one company seeing its share price hurt for past practices -- unless civil proceedings start hurting EPS. But there may be a world of hurt for any company that attempts anything remotely like this in the future.