ABC's Terry Moran, a new Nightline co-host who was until recently a dogged attack-questioner of the Bush White House -- and of course, an even more recent attack-questioner of Dick Cheney -- sent a very sensible note to the new World News Tonight blog about the Jack Abramoff scandal and how lobbying has grown because the size of government has grown. Now let's see if he sounds like this on Nightline:
The real reason there's so much power for sale in Washington is that there's so much power in Washington. The British newspaper The Independent said today that President Woodrow Wilson could not have imagined today's $4 billion lobbying industry. They are quite right -- but Mr. Wilson could hardly have imagined today's $1 trillion-plus federal government, whose powers reach into every nook and cranny of American life. When the federal government can influence what happens in your business or your backyard or your bedroom -- you are quite properly going to want to influence it right back. That's not corruption; that's self-government. And while it would be swell if that dialogue happened in a pristine, college-seminar-style setting -- or maybe a private club -- free of the grubbiness of real-world interests, it doesn't. This, after all, is America. And we grub.
In the same blog post, ABC News Deputy Political Director David Chalian suggested Abramoff was well beyond the normal practice of lobbying by offering bald-faced quid pro quos, but added: "There’s an old saying about Washington – that all its politicians are crooks. It gets to the fact that money has the ability to corrupt people. However, it is important to remember that lobbying is not necessarily a dirty business, but a legal way many interest groups choose to participate in the democratic process."