06/16/2005 08:19 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Decline and Fall of a Second Term

Here's an anti-Bush plank for Democrats to run on in 2006 and 2008: corruption. As in, the Bush administration is full of it.

There's more evidence of that today, as the Times reports that political appointees at the Justice Department "overrode the objections of career lawyers running the government's tobacco racketeering trial and ordered them to reduce the penalties sought at the close of the nine-month trial by $120 billion."

The man who made this bizarre decision, Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum, happpens to be a Skull and Bones—mate of Bush's who—it's so predictable—was previously a partner at an Atlanta law firm that represented the tobacco industry.

But let's return to that $120 billion figure. Career Justice Department lawyers had spent years building their case against Big Tobacco, and at the very last minute, the penalties they were seeking were reduced from $130 billion to ten billion by one of the president's cronies.

Imagine what that money could go to. A hell of a lot of medical care. Funding for public education. Or, if you prefer, a year of war in Iraq.

McCallum is the second Bush official in recent days who's been shown to have greater loyalty to his prior employer than to his present one. Phillip Cooney, former chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality -- the man who used to work for the American Petroleum Institute —- doctored already approved White House documents to soften warnings about global warming.

This trickle of corruption will become a torrent as Bush's second term winds down. That's the way second terms work -- especially when you have a president who polices the morals of everyone except the people who happen to work for him.