Inauguration funded by industry; cynics jump to conclusions

Yesterday we reported on an interview in which President Bush said that nuclear energy answers the “environmental issue” and the “dependency issue.” Turns out it also partially answers the “incredibly expensive inauguration issue.” The Nuclear Energy Institute, a lobbying group, is coughing up $100,000 for the lavish $40 million-plus affair, though that’s small beans compared to the bucks being put up by a number of oil, gas, and mining companies. They join more than 100 interests (companies, trade associations, and individual executives), nearly all of which have benefited from the Bush administration’s policies, contributing a collective $18 million (so far) to the spectacle, which will include fireworks, a parade, an elaborate swearing-in, and nine black-tie balls. (If it’s not obvious, campaign finance law does not apply to these gifts.) Cynics like Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington say, “They’re giving the money because they want something.” But hey, maybe they just have … er, enjoy balls.