There is a saying "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely", attributed to British Historian Lord Acton. Based on the current U.S. Government, it appears to still hold true.
The Republican party has been in control of all 3 parts of the US government (president, senate, and congress) for a few years now. And there are a lot of legal indictments which are affecting politicians. The most recent is the whole Jack Abramoff affair. Mr. Abramoff is a lobbyist, which means he tries to get politicians to vote in the direction his clients want. In theory, a lobbyist provides information to politicians which help them make a decision. But in practice, it appears he was exchanging money for favorable laws - which is illegal. It will be interesting to see if any politicians will be forced to resign. Already some leading Republican congressmen are being rumored to be in trouble due to this.
But this is not the first. There have been a variety of other problems for politicians, including:
- earlier this year, Congressman Duke Cunningham resigned after admitting to accepting bribes
- Tom Delay had to step down from his post as leader of the Congress (but not as a Congressman) because he was indicted for illegally funneling money into a political campaign. Seems Delay's name has also been talked about in relations to Jack Abramoff.
- Senate leader Bill Frist is under investigation for insider trading of shares he owned of his family company's stock. Basically he (along with other senior people at the company) sold stock just before it dropped significantly in price.
- Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff (his main advisor) was indicted in the Plame Affair, where the name of an undercover CIA operative was leaked to the press. CIA operatives need their secrecy, so leaking a name intentionally is a federal crime. It seems that someone in the administration leaked the name as a way to get back at Valerie Plame's husband, who not only didn't find links to WMDs in Iraq, but had the guts (or as the President probably feels, the gall) to come out and say there are not any just as we were gearing up for war.
I am still a firm believer that there no one political party should hold all 3 parts of government. This way we will have checks and balances. Not only would that prevent either party from pushing very partisan rules into place, but it will also ensure that if certain party leaders are illegally influenced by money, the other party can stop the laws from going into affect (a law has to be approved by all 3 parts of the government).