Attention, convicts: Time is running out to get applications to the pardon attorney at the Justice Department if you're hoping President Bush will be your decider. Few of you should get your hopes up—Bush has rejected a record number of requests for pardons and commutations. In the last eight years, he has pardoned 157 people—a miserly sum compared with his predecessors. But you don't have to give up entirely: More are expected in the coming months, most notably for Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Before President Clinton went on a pardon spree for wealthy friends and campaign contributors at the end of his presidency, pardons and commutations were traditionally bestowed on average citizens who had successfully reformed their lives and given back to their communities after completing lengthy sentences. Pardon experts believe that of the Bush prospects, the 1980s junk-bond king Michael Milken best fits the rich-and-famous description.
Most of the other top prospects for pardon listed below have, like Milken, been convicted and served prison time. But not all. People who are merely charged could be eligible for pardons, as Bush's father demonstrated when he pardoned former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger. And Washington is abuzz with the prospect that Bush might issue pre-emptive pardons for government employees who could face trouble in the future stemming from their roles in his "war on terror."
We've rated potential pardonees' chances from zero to four "Get out of Jail Free" cards.
Others convicted in the Cunningham scandal: