http://www.economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9304859 THE law lashed out at two Washingtonians this week. One, William Jefferson, is a Democratic congressman from New Orleans who would be entirely obscure were it not for the colourful crimes he is alleged to have committed. The other, Lewis Scooter Libby, was until recently chief of staff to Dick Cheney. Mr Jefferson was indicted for bribery on June 4th. The next day, Mr Libby was sentenced to 30 months in jail and fined $250,000 for perjury and obstruction of justice in a case about outing a CIA agent. The two cases could not be more different. Mr Jefferson is accused of straightforward corruption to enrich himself and his family. Prosecutors say he accepted nearly $500,000 in bribes in return for helping with business deals in Africa. He is also alleged to have offered a bribe to a top Nigerian politician. He denies the charges, but he was secretly recorded apparently discussing bribes, and the FBI found $90,000 in cash hidden in his freezer in 2005. The case embarrasses the Democrats, who recaptured Congress last year vowing to end the Republican culture of corruption. Republicans called for Mr Jefferson to be expelled from Congress. Even pro-Democrat bloggers recalled that, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Mr Jefferson commandeered a National Guard truck to save his own possessions, and urged that the party kick him out. Mr Libby's case is more important, and much harder to follow. In brief, it revolves around the leaking of the name of a CIA agent whose husband, a former diplomat, had embarrassed the Bush administration by disputing its assertion that Saddam Hussein had been seeking uranium in Africa. In the end, after a long and bruising investigation, no one was prosecuted for outing the agent. But because Mr Libby's accounts of his conversations with reporters were contradicted by nearly all of them, he was convicted of perjury. Democrats claimed the case showed that the Bush administration manipulated the pre-war intelligence. At a Republican presidential debate, several candidates said they would consider pardoning Mr Libby, noting that he was convicted in a case where no underlying crime was proven. A bit like Bill Clinton, as they didn't add.