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Having just finished its investigation of the Mark Foley coverup, the House Ethics Committee said lawmakers behaved inappropriately, but that no rules were broken: "In all, a pattern of conduct was exhibited among many individuals to remain willfully ignorant of the potential consequences of former Representative Foley's conduct with respect to House pages."

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The man who held the post of speaker longer than any Republican in history is now but one of a multitude, serving out his last days in the Congress he helped to lose. Denny Hastert's refusal to retire makes him a historical oddity, since House speakers typically end their reigns by either resigning or dying.

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Dennis Hastert testified for roughly two hours and 40 minutes today before a closed session of the House Ethics Committee. The objectivity of the committee's investigation into the Foley affair has been in doubt, especially in light of the fact that last year Hastert removed its then-chairman, Joel Hefley, for admonishing Tom DeLay.

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The House speaker cleared a cool $2 million from the sale of land near a highway project that he helped to finance with targeted federal funds. Two other GOP congressmen had similar questionable dealings in their own districts. The Washington Post has the goods.

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Dennis Hastert gets caught in a suspect land deal, Rep. Jerry Lewis is in deep with a stinko lobbying firm, and the Department of Homeland Security has become a Republican playground. Can't the GOP, self-proclaimed bastion of morality, small government and fiscal responsibility, get anything right?

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With the Bush administration, it's important to have in mind the old carnival con game: Keep your eye on the shell with the pea under it.

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