The taxpayers’ bank opened a new branch on Thursday: Uncle Sam just threw $20 billion Bank of America’s way. The government is also on the hook for $118 billion more in crap assets. Bank of America chief Ken Lewis calls it the “deal of a lifetime.” No kidding.

McClatchy:

WASHINGTON — With a new round of turmoil gripping the financial markets, the Bush administration late Thursday night rushed $20 billion in emergency funding for Bank of America.

Just months ago, Bank of America, based in Charlotte, N.C., appeared to emerge as the nation’s top bank after it stepped in on Sept. 15 to purchase investment bank Merrill Lynch. After Merrill’s fourth-quarter results proved worse than expected, however, the acquisition was in peril and investors have fled Bank of America in droves.

Bank of America’s stock lost 40 percent of its value during the past 10 days — shares closed on Thursday in single digits for the first time in 18 years — and the taxpayer money will be used to ameliorate the losses from its acquisition of Merrill Lynch. Chief Executive Ken Lewis called it “deal of a lifetime” when it was announced.

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