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Top Ten Political Scandals

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The history of American politics is – depressingly, inevitably, often hilariously – a history of political scandals. From Teapot Dome to Watergate to the Keating Five, each generation of public servants has done its bit to squander the public trust and dive headlong into the swamp of venality, corruption, and moral decay. We've rounded up what we think are the top ten examples of the genre (note: we've skipped sex scandals in favor of more obvious abuses of the public interest). Click through to check out our selection – and let us know what we missed.


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U.S. Attorney Firings – ‘Lawyergate’

 On December 7, 2006, George W. Bush's Department of Justice fired nine U.S. attorneys. Later congressional investigations found that the dismissals were made to gain political advantage. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales denied participating in discussions and memos about plans to carry out the firings, but records suggested he was involved. Nine high-level Justice Department officers resigned as a result of the scandal. [More]

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The Valerie Plame Affair

Also known as the "CIA leak scandal" and "Plamegate," The Valerie Plame Affair refers to the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA covert agent in a 2003 newspaper column by Robert Novak. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, believed that the Bush administration leaked her status to Novak as payback for a New York Times op-ed in which he charged the adminstration with manipulating intelligence about Saddam's WMD program to justify an invasion of Iraq. A grand jury investigation did not result in the indictment or conviction of anyone for any crime in connection with the leak itself, but Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff of Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted on one count of obstruction of justice, one count of perjury, and three counts making false statements and after a federal trial was sentenced to 30 months in prison, a fine of US$250,000, and two years of supervised release. President Bush commuted the sentence, but declined to grant a full pardon.

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