August 2006 Ethics Dunce
President George W. BushAdmittedly, it is hard to keep things in perspective when you're President, but Americans have a right to expect a little more respect from their elected leaders. George W. Bush surely knew that closing Virginia's carpool lanes out of Washington, D.C. on Route 395 during rush hour would cause misery for thousands of area commuters. Nevertheless, he asked Virginia authorities to clear the high occupancy vehicle lanes on August 24th so he and his entourage could make good time to Richmond, where he had an important engagement. Well, not exactly important to the nation, or the War on Terror, or the economy, or even all the Virginia commuters who would be in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours, missing their own engagements… just important to the Republican Party, and especially beleaguered Senator George "Macaca" Allen, who needed W for a campaign fundraiser.
To its credit, Virginia's Department of Transportation turned down the request and Bush had to take a helicopter. But this incident is a disturbing example of the arrogance of power and the unethical calculations it can produce. Of course Bush's campaign appearance couldn't justify disrupting the schedule of thousands of citizens, not to mention wasting their cars' high-priced gasoline. But the President of the United States either couldn't see that, or just didn't care.
Either way, it's the tell-tale mark of an Ethics Dunce.