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Jewish World Review July 23, 2002 / 14 Menachem-Av, 5762

Tony Snow

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Consumer Reports

Musings | President Bush wants corporations to behave more responsibly, and he says corporate crooks ought to lose their lucre and spend time behind bars for their misdeeds. That makes lots of sense, and nobody's going to complain about the proposed diagnosis or cure.

But most analysts miss the real genius of the president's crusade -- its seamless integration of politics and morality. You see business is a social venture, and as such, it relies heavily on trust. Accurate information is the lifeblood of capitalism. When lies pollute the system, everything -- and everyone -- suffers. In fact, corruption is even more fatal in the marketplace than in the political arena.

That's why there's only one way for corporations to rebuild public faith, and it's not government regulation. Businesses themselves must clean their messes -- and in such a public and open manner that no one can doubt their methods or motives. Politicians may want to control the action, but they can't.

I don't know what's got into Al Gore. The former vice president told backers and financiers that he was ready to unleash the Real Al -- not some mannequin managed and manipulated by pollsters and consultants.

But then the man delivered one of the oddest speeches of his career. He was stiff, uncomfortable and insanely tone deaf. He accused President Bush of using the war on terror to divide the nation -- a dumb criticism to make of a commander in chief who has taken great pains to operate on a bipartisan basis. He complained that the Bush administration had failed to wrap up Osama bin Laden -- a man who also slipped through the clutches of Team Clinton.

And he concluded by arguing that our European allies ought to have a stronger say, if not a veto, in our war plans. By the time he finished, even some of Gore's old friends were saying: We're sure glad that guy lost the Florida recount.

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