The Bush/Cheney "Ethical Sleaze" Tour

The late, great Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory once wrote that the Bush administration has a habit of "using shamelessness as a political weapon."

While she wrote that during earlier, more carefree days for the president, it continues to characterize an administration that has rarely seen an ethical problem worth its concern, let alone its condemnation. Oh, and what the heck – why not just go ahead and actually raise a little money in the midst of all those ethical improprieties?

That is, incredibly enough, exactly what Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney are doing during the next several days, as the president travels first to Kentucky, home of recently indicted Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher, to do a little fund raising. Not to be outdone, the vice president will travel next week to California where he will do fund-raisers for Republican Reps. John Doolittle and Richard Pombo, both of whom face unexpectedly tough races, largely due to ethics scandals swirling around them. (Doolittle in particular has numerous close ties to Jack Abramoff, but both gentlemen are inductees in our Hall of Shame.) For good measure, Cheney will also do a fund-raiser for Brian Bilbray, the Republican candidate to replace imprisoned and disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Any chance Bush and Cheney will focus on the need to clean up corruption during their fund-raising pitches? Probably about as much as there is of Cheney giving the names of those oil company executives he met with to formulate energy policy, or of Bush admitting that yes, actually, he does know Mr. Abramoff rather well.

There actions could, however, unintentionally assist those of us who are fighting corruption. Just by following their fund-raising tours for the rest of this election year, it could be easy to tell who has the biggest ethics problems in Congress…

-Gordon Clark