Does the Bush administration feel even the slightest bit sheepish about having bribed a "journalist" to secretly shill for them? If you have to ask, you haven't been paying attention:
The department defended the deal, claiming its public-relations contractor "sought avenues to reach minority parents."
"The contract paid to provide the straightforward distribution of information about the department's mission on No Child Left Behind, a permissible use of taxpayer funds under legal government contracting procedures," according to a department statement.
If these people are so unashamed of what they did, why did it take a Freedom of Information Act request to pry this sleazy arrangement out of them?
ADDENDUM: Just in case anyone suggests that there's nothing wrong with Williams taking a fistful of cash to whore for the White House, one might ask Williams why he never mentioned all that payola to his employer, even though his contract had a clear conflict-of-interest clause:
"The fact that Mr. Williams failed to notify TMS of his receipt (through the Ketchum public relations agency) of payments from the DOE is a violation of provisions in his syndication agreement with TMS. The agreement requires him to notify TMS when 'a possible or potential conflict of interest arises due to the subject matter of (his columns) and the social, professional, financial, or business relations of (Mr. Williams).'