Friday, January 27, 2006

Culture Of Corruption: Majority Disapproves of Bush on Ethics in Government


Nearly six in 10 Americans see lobbyist Jack Abramoff's plea deal as a sign of widespread corruption in Washington.

Jan. 27, 2006 — A clear majority of Americans now disapprove of President Bush's handling of ethics in government, and three-quarters say the administration should disclose all contacts between White House officials and disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The administration has declined to release records of Abramoff meetings, saying it will not "engage in a fishing expedition." But in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 76 percent said the White House should produce such a list. Even 65 percent of Republicans said so.

As things stand, the ethics situation in Washington is not working to Bush's advantage. In advance of his 2006 State of the Union address, 56 percent now disapprove of the way the president is handling ethics in government, up from 49 percent in mid-December.

Beyond disapproval of Bush on ethics, there's been some weakening for the Republicans more broadly. Asked which party they trust more to stand up to lobbyists and special interest groups, just 27 percent of Americans picked the Republicans, down from 34 percent last month. More, 46 percent, preferred the Democrats.

Independents — quintessential swing voters — picked the Democrats over the Republicans in trust to handle ethics by 46 percent to 20 percent. But skepticism is considerable; a quarter of all Americans, and about a third of independents, volunteer that they don't trust either party on lobbying, or draw no distinction between them.

There is some belief that Congress in the next year will enact tough new regulations on lobbying, but it's muted: Nearly half, 46 percent, call this likely, while 51 percent think it's unlikely. Just 11 percent see it as "very likely" that such legislation will come to pass; 24 percent, on the other hand, call it very unlikely.

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