WASHINGTON -- President Bush, faced anew with questions stemming from his administration's close ties to big business, said Wednesday he expects Vice President Dick Cheney to be cleared by a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the accounting practices of the Texas company Cheney once led.
"I've got great confidence in the vice president," Bush said at the White House when asked about the probe of Halliburton Inc. "When I picked him, I knew he was a fine business leader and a fine, experienced man. And he's doing a great job."
During a joint news conference with visiting Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Bush also rebuffed calls for more details of his own business practices as a Texas oil executive in the early 1990s.
Bush dismissed suggestions that he authorize the SEC to release the entire file of its inquiry into a 1990 stock sale he made, saying the transaction has been "fully investigated by career investigators," who found that "there was no case."
The persistent questions were a reminder of the cloud that hovers over an administration laden with former captains of industry at a time when corporate executive behavior is under intense scrutiny as a result of a spate of accounting scandals.
So far, the scandals might not have seriously affected Bush's standing. A Washington Post poll released Wednesday found his job approval rating standing firm at 72 percent -- virtually unchanged from a month ago.
But some analysts believe that Bush -- and Cheney -- might have a harder time staying immune from the corporate-scandals fallout if the stock market keeps dropping.
A nationwide poll released Tuesday by Zogby International found some slippage for Bush, contrary to the Post survey. Bush's approval rating was 62 percent in the Zogby poll -- still a strong showing, but the first time the figure had slipped below 65 percent since Sept. 11.
"I think both (Bush and Cheney) will be dogged by this for some time, but especially Cheney," said Larry J. Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist. "That's because the Halliburton controversy is really quite recent, and it relates directly to the current overall scandal of corporate irresponsibility," Sabato said.
On Capitol Hill, Democrats might conduct hearings on Halliburton's accounting practices.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.