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By November 2006, voters were fed up with crooked lobbyists like Jack Abramoff and congressmen like Duke Cunningham and Robert Ney. They put Democrats back in charge of Capitol Hill. The day after the election, Democrats pledged to change the way Congress does business and put ethics at the top of their agenda. Of course, we’ve heard that before.

Imperial Washington is a tough realm to crack if you’re an outsider to the lobbying game. To get behind the velvet ropes and the "members only" signs on Capitol Hill, you need money and ideas, and you need to know the right people. The search engine giant Google rules the Web, but it stumbled in Washington. We'll go inside one lobbying battle over the future of the Internet.

The people who represent special interests in Washington don't just court members of Congress on Capitol Hill and its surrounding restaurants and hotel suites. It pays to sponsor lavish trips to faraway places. Imagine what it’s worth to a lobbyist to have the ear of a member of Congress for hours on a plush corporate jet. And then play golf or fly-fish together, share meals and drinks, smoke cigars and exchange tall tales late at night in a luxurious setting. And all this cozy activity takes place far from public scrutiny.

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Congressional Perks
So what perks do members of Congress actually get?


We Are the Web
Part of the battle over the future of the Internet was waged on the Internet. Blogs and viral videos helped rally grassroots support among the public to sign Internet petitions and call lawmakers. Here's the story behind one viral video that debuted in August of 2006.


The Growth of Lobbying in Washington
A building boom and rising restaurant prices were the first clues, says one long-time Washington political observer.


Reporter's Notebook
Congressional Quarterly reporter Jill Barshay reflects on the increasing sophistication of lobbying in the information age.


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