Why did high-rolling CEOs

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June 29, 2002 2:47 p.m.

Why did high-rolling CEOs and CFOs and in-house accountants fraudulently inflate profits? Single-minded focus on market capitalization? Weak regulatory oversight? Poor business ethics? No, it was Bill Clinton and all that unfortunate business with Monica Lewinsky. Apparently the former president just led Ebbers and Lay and their minions down the primrose path.

Steve Forbes tried this pre-fab spin on for size on Moneyline tonight:

Well, I think if you want to look at the tone of the ’90s, it started right at the top, at the White House, where the attitude was anything goes. If you get caught, spin your way out of it. The only thing they didn’t resist — they could resist everything except temptation. So it started at the top.

Then a short time later the GOP operative Ed Rogers did the same on Crossfire.

That didn’t start when Bush was elected or when Bush was sworn in. It started during the Clinton bubble years, where we were all taught from the top down the truth is relative.

Who knew corporate America was so impressionable? And took their lead from Bill Clinton?

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