I am not a lawyer, but Glenn Greenwald is.
And he points out a couple of things that I think are kinda important:
1) Lying to Congress is a crime, even if you're not under oath.
2) Alberto Gonzales lied like a rug before Congress.
Greenwald then goes on to mention the GOP's aversion to reality in general, and truth-telling in particular, by letting us relive a few other Republican scandals of the past few decades, using this to explain how we could come to have such a disgusting scofflaw as our Attorney General.
Remember those thrilling days of yesteryear known to some as "The Hunting of the President", "CoupGate", or just plain old "The '90s"? Greenwald sure does.
Lying was considered by our GOP/Media Complex friends to be a horrible, horrible sin — when Democrats did it.
Fresh off cheering on Ollie North as he lied under oath to protect the CIA's drug lords in South Central LA (Lt. Col. North having a history of saying what certain people wanted him to say under oath), the Republicans and their media allies immediately turned to dissecting every last action of Bill and Hillary Clinton. They didn't shy away from inventing lies where none existed, either. (One of the big ironies of watching Ollie North's fellow conservative spinmeister Victoria Toensing lie under oath at today's Plame hearing — which, considering her long association with the people who attacked Plame, isn't surprising — is how high-horsey she and her husband Joe DiGenova were over Bill Clinton's evasion of a badly-crafted perjury trap set up as part of Ken Starr's $100 million fishing expedition.)
That all changed once Bush entered the White House. Suddenly things that would have been rated worthy of impeachment by the press during Clinton's two terms were either laughed at or swept under the rug. The same press that eagerly tried and convicted the Clintons of non-crimes in Whitewater, shrugged their shoulders over Bush's shady dealings with Harken, Arbusto, Funeralgate/FEMA, UTIMCO, and the Harvard endowment fund, to name but a few names from the Shrubbery's checkered past.
Even now, as Bush's imperial reign collapses before our eyes, the GOP/Media Complex still reflexively defends him and attacks his critics, and still is much more receptive to Republican-generated talking points than to actual facts in context. To list but one: They went out of their way to create a bogus scandal from a couple of anonymous Cheney "death threat" comments left over at Huffington Post, yet as Glenn Greenwald notes here, they won't make a peep of protest against the reams and reams of comments on right-wing blogs like LGF calling for Jimmy Carter's death.
The media's enabling effect (as can be seen in this bizarre AP story on Valerie Plame's testimony today, in which blatant and obvious GOP bullcrap is put on the same footing as the hard facts that came out in the Libby trial and the run-up thereto) is a big reason why the Republicans in general and BushCo in particular feel so secure in lying early and often: They figure that they'll almost never get called on it. (Though they can get so used to the comforting security blanket that they forget that it doesn't always protect them — such as when Toensing lied under oath today and Henry Waxman called her on it, saying that he was going to fact-check what she had said. It was fun to watch her face when he said that.) Only when Republicans start trashing other Republicans — such as was the case with the Bush Junta's plans to fire all 93 of the current US Attorneys — do we get serious cracks in the GOP/Media omerta.
And then the press wonders why we don't trust them.
[03/17/06 Update: Over at my home base, Mercury Rising, my co-blogger MEC dissects the AP's take on the Waxman hearings and does it with her usual inimitable expertise. Check it out.]