The national unemployment rate rose to its highest level last month in more than a quarter century, according to government data released last Friday. Financial experts are predicting no end in sight to the diseased economy that’s hemorrhaging money like a Nicole Kidman film on opening weekend.

Newspapers and 24-hour cable news channels are rife with stories of homes in foreclosure and businesses permanently shutting their doors. However, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Obama implored the nation to “discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis.”

Some companies are already doing just that. Like KFC, Wal-Mart, Phillip Morris and ShamWow, all of whom have found that their cheap, poorly made and often times injurious offerings are as good as bottomless pots of gold during bleak financial times. Which is why they’ve managed to cheerfully keep their heads above water (or, in the case of ShamWow, literally hold its own water) and remain in the black.

According to Advertising Age, gun manufacturers are also doing gangbuster (ahem) sales of late. Smith & Wesson is reporting a 40 percent increase in pistol transactions and Sturm, Ruger & Co. has seen an 81 percent uptick in firearm revenue. While the rise in gun sales is partly attributed (ironically) to the new Democratic administration and widespread fears of stricter gun-control regulations around the corner, the rise in criminal activity by desperate people trying to make ends meet and therefore the perceived need for increased security is also the reason for the continued employment of the makers of Uzis and other semi-automatic weapons.

The liquor industry is certainly discovering great opportunity as the unemployment rate skyrockets and the Dow continues to tank. Alcohol sales are thriving as people seek home-based entertainment. People drowning their sorrows with a bottle of cheap whiskey or vodka for comfort in the privacy of the houses they fear losing is all the rage these days. Alcoholics Anonymous is rumored to be reconsidering its “no dues or fees” membership policy, thinking it might as well cash in and strike while the suffering of others is hot.

Online gambling organizations are feeling the love lately, too. As people hunker down and imbibe, the likelihood of them switching on the computer to try to turn their luck around with a few dozen hands of cyber poker or several hundred spins at a virtual slot machine is higher than ever. At least sites like onlinesportshandicapping.com are doing their best to protect gamblers with weak constitutions from losing their pants along with their shirts.

“With college basketball’s March Madness on tap this month, many novice bettors are preparing to stay home by creating their online gambling accounts and making their college basketball picks,” the Web site says.

Fortunately the amateurs will have some help as they get “ready to roll through the full season of NCAA Basketball betting action with expert picks and free picks.” President Obama is said to be mulling a Presidential Medal of Freedom for onlinesportshandicapping.com in honor of their thankless efforts on behalf of people everywhere trying to climb out of deep debt.

Religious organizations are also feeling flush with cash while the stock market nose dives. Take, for instance, the Web site and mail order catalogue Kingdom. Billed as “An Inc. 500 Company with a Heart for Ministry!” whose mission is “To glorify God by building a profitable business that advances His Kingdom,” it not only shares its technology with religious-minded individuals, but it also has employment opportunities for the right sort of person as well.

Boasting such services as the Messages-To-Go PromoPack (not to be confused the McJesus Value Meal at the Vatican-area McDonald’s) and products like an MP3 player shaped like a cross (“Lets you show your faith while listening to messages or music!”), Kingdom is “committed to glorifying God through quality products and services.”

And at a time when the effects of the president’s stimulus package have yet to hit Main Street, knowing there exists a company promising you can “make a ton of cash by telling people about us” is certainly a welcome sigh of relief to the 651,000 workers who were laid off last month.

The Gadgets on Kingdom’s Web site are powered by Google. And a higher power, too (because even He isn’t immune during a recession).

E-mail questions or comments to meredithccarroll@hotmail.com.