Coercing and threatening a Medicare bookkeeper for doing his job is accepted behavior in the Bush administration.

The Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general, the agency's internal watchdog, said a three-month investigation found that administration officials had used aggressive tactics to keep from Congress much higher estimates of the legislation's cost -- $100 billion more than what the president and other officials were acknowledging.

But the effort -- including threats by Thomas Scully, the administration's Medicare chief until December, to fire chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster -- did not violate federal law, the inspector general said.

Foster can thank his lucky stars there's no memo from the White House authorizing the use of torture on whistleblowers -- yet.

Guess where Scully works these days. The New York times knows:

In recent weeks, Mr. Scully has registered as a lobbyist for major drug companies, including Abbott Laboratories and Aventis; for Caremark Rx, a pharmacy benefit manager; and for the American Chiropractic Association and the American College of Gastroenterology, among other clients. All are affected by the new Medicare law, which Mr. Scully helped write.

Suddenly, Kerry's comments about this administration come into focus: "These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen. It's scary."


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