Now, with fewer than two years left of his second term, the Bush administration is embroiled in multiple scandals and ethics investigations. The war in
Iraq still rages. Bush's approval ratings are hovering in the mid-30s. And Democratic-Republican relations have seldom been more rancorous.
In the highest-profile current case, even some key Republicans are questioning the truthfulness and judgment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. The panel is investigating whether the prosecutors were dumped to make way for more politically obedient successors.
The furor over Gonzales and Rove's e-mail practices follow disclosures of shoddy medical treatment of war-injured veterans,
FBI abuses of civil liberties, and the conviction of a top White House aide of lying to a grand jury.
What ever happened to restoring honor and dignity?
"From the very beginning, this administration emphasized loyalty over competence. And at some point, that catches up with you," said Paul Light, a professor of public policy at New York University. He said the increase in scandals and investigations also reflects the "natural decay" that happens late in a second presidential term as many experienced people have already left and those remaining start focusing on their financial futures.