The name of a scandal in American politics of the 1920s; it was also the name of a petroleum reserve in Wyoming, under the control of the United States Government, as part of the nation's oil reserves. President Warren G. Harding signed over control of Teapot Dome (and other such locations) to Interior Secretary Albert Fall, who, in turn, sold the rights to tap into those reserves to oil companies; the proceeds went into the pockets of Fall and others, not the U.S. Treasury.

Hmmm, does this sound familiar (read Reagan/Bush) or is it a precursor of things to come (read Bush/Cheney)?

A genial, well intentioned, "hands-off" Republican President, called lazy by some critics, delegates responsibility to subordinates and doesn't pay too much attention to what they're up to. He believes in cutting taxes for the wealthy in order to stimulate the economy, but his administration is plagued by scandals when some of his Cabinet members are caught influence peddling and conducting other corrupt activities. I guess we'll have to let history decide.

Anyway, a few more facts regarding Teapot Dome.

America was tired of World War I and the eight years of Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Enter one Warren G. Harding, a small town, self made businessman. He was opposed in the election by James M. Cox who was the Democratic nominee for the presidency. Cox's choice for Vice President was Wilson's Assistant Secretary to the Navy -Franklin D. Roosevelt. Harding and his running mate Calvin Coolidge , the governor of Massachusetts win easily in a small turnout election. As an aside, Socialist Eugene V. Debs captured 3.5% of the popular vote.

Harding's was a classic Republican administration. Tax cuts, help for big business, an America first foreign policy that rejected Wilson's League of Nations and set up tariffs to protect American industry.

Mix all of this togethor and you have the making of what became known as the Harding Scandals. The first of these involved the siphoning of millions of dollars allocated for Veterans Administration hospitals. In another episode, Harding's Attorney General, one Harry Daugherty, was implicated in fraud related to the return of German assets seized during WWI and only avoided conviction by invoking the Fifth Amendment. I digress, back to Teapot Dome.

Two federal oil reserves, one in Elk Hills, California and the other in Teapot Dome, Wyoming were marked for future use of the U.S. Navy. The Interior Secretary, one Albert B. Fall, contrived to have these lands turned over to his department. He then sold off drilling leases to private developers in return for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks in the form of cash, stock, and cattle. In August of 1923, the scandal was being investigated and uncovered by the Senate. During this time, Harding suffered a fatal heart attack -ironically misdiagnosed as food poisoning -while on his way home from Alaska to San Francisco. Interior Secretary Fall was later convicted for accepting bribes. He has thus earned the distinction of becoming the first (and probably not the last) Cabinet officer in American history to go to jail

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