A FRIEND IN NEED

UNDER THE NEW ETHICS RULES, A CLOSE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIC AND MONTBLANC

WHAT IS A FRIEND? POETS AND PHILOSOPHERS HAVE PONDERED the question for centuries. Harry S Truman advised anyone looking for such a thing in Washington to buy a dog instead. But now the musing has taken on great urgency because friendship, it turns out, is one of the few exceptions to the draconian new congressional ethics rules that took effect on Jan. 1. These rules replace older, looser ones about accepting gifts, meals and junkets. The new standard in the House is "Zero Tolerance"--no freebies other than trifling gewgaws and home-state souvenirs from anyone at all, except family or friends. The...

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