Bush and Gonzales, or the accountability moment that wasn't

The president blames the attorney general's demise on "unfair treatment" from Congress.

Published August 27, 2007 4:17PM (EDT)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, having just entered a guilty plea on criminal charges related to dogfighting, went before the TV cameras this morning and apologized for doing wrong and lying about it afterward. "I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions," the 27-year-old football player said. "I offer my deepest apologies to everyone."

Which is like what Alberto Gonzales and George W. Bush had to say for themselves this morning, only different. Gonzales announced his resignation as attorney general today without even mentioning the allegations, the investigations or the scandals that have led to the departure of more than half a dozen top Justice Department officials.

The president did mention some of that when it was his turn to speak this morning, but he did so defiantly. Standing stiff-jawed in front of Marine One, Bush characterized Gonzales as a man of "integrity, decency and principle" brought down by "months of unfair treatment that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department." The president said that it's "sad" that "we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeding [sic] from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons."

Michael Vick surely knows that, under the federal sentencing guidelines, he'll spend less time in prison if he accepts responsibility for his actions. After nearly a decade and a half spent working together, George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzales clearly see no advantage in accepting responsibility for theirs.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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