CHICAGO
01/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

George Ryan's Clemency Bid: Pros And Cons For Bush

The topsy-turvy tale of George Ryan's efforts to get out of federal prison becomes a bit more twisted by the day.

On Tuesday, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk sent a letter to President Bush urging him not to reduce the former Republican governor's prison term, saying it would "embolden the corrupt and criminal."

"His crimes struck at the fabric of our democracy and invited a new wave of public corruption in Illinois," Kirk said in the letter.

This comes on the heels of Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin announcing recently that he'd sent a letter to Bush asking that the 74-year-old Ryan be set free.

Durbin's push was backed by current Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Chicago Democrat, who won election in 2002 on a campaign that vilified Ryan's tenure in politics.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Republican Party, beholden to Ryan for decades, came out against clemency for its former standard-bearer.

Whether any of this will have any bearing on what Bush does is anyone's guess.

While there is a formal process - complete with its own federal office - for seeking pardons and clemency from the president, in the end it doesn't matter. The president is free to do whatever he wants, as the country learned last year when Bush wiped out the prison sentence of top vice presidential aide Scooter Libby before Libby ever served a day in prison.

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